Saturday, July 28, 2007
CNMI House takes action on global warming
By Bob Schwalbach
Special to the Saipan Tribune
This is a great way to get to start a regular column on the threat of global climate change:
Congratulations to the members of the 15th Northern Mariana Islands House of Representatives for already passing a bill tackling the climate change problem. That's right. With little fanfare HB 15-274, sponsored by Chairwoman Cinta Kaipat and co-sponsored by Minority Leader Arnold Palacios, passed the House unanimously on July 24th.
If the Senate approves the bill and the Governor signs it, the CNMI immediately moves to the front of the line among U.S. local governments taking action to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions that are causing the Earth to heat up.
Last month, both the House and the Senate, as well as DEQ, CRM, and DFW invited me to give presentations on global warming and climate change. To make a long story short: Gases like carbon dioxide have been increasing in the Earth's atmosphere since human beings began the Industrial Age about 150 years ago. As a result more and more of the Sun's energy is trapped around the Earth-just like putting on a sweater traps your body heat and warms you.
But warming up the Earth has some dangerous effects. Typhoons are getting more intense, coral reefs are dying, and sea level is rising. So human beings have a choice: cut back on greenhouse gases or live with dangerous changes in the Earth's environment.
Among the states that have taken action is Hawaii. Kaipat's bill is modeled after legislation that went into effect there just a few weeks ago. Basically, her bill says that by the year 2020 the CNMI will roll back the amount of carbon dioxide we put into the air to the same amount we put into the air in 2000. Most of that CO2 comes from power plants and cars, so with the economic downturn we may already be near the 2000 level. But setting this goal now will keep us from increasing greenhouse gas output as the economy starts growing again.
HB 15-274 also sets up a task force of people from business, government, academia, and other community groups to propose specific actions the CNMI needs to take to keep greenhouse gas emissions below the 2000 level. Fortunately, actions the task force is most likely to recommend are both good for the environment we depend on and good for our economy and pocketbooks. For example, swapping our incandescent light bulbs as they burn out for longer lasting and more energy-efficient compact fluorescent bulbs means CUC has to make less electricity and buy less oil. That saves the customer money and keeps dollars in the local economy instead of sending them off-island to Mr. Mobil.
In future columns I'll be sharing ideas about how to save money by reducing energy use and keeping you posted on the science of global warming.
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Bob Schwalbach is a volunteer with TheClimateProject.org.
Click here for the Tribune page.