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Environmental Engineering Division Technical Commitees
Environmental Engineering Division Policies
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I'm new to this group. Enjoying a day off from work, due to the snowpocalypse of 2014, I'm taking some time to delve into some of the topics that interest me. Some comments on your newsletter ... mainly, there is a strong message coming through the editorial comments that exposes a feverish bias against today's environmental advocacy groups. Personally, I consider myself an environmental pragmatist. I would like to see a balanced discussion, not one that dives in with a predetermined point of view - either way.
It seems to me that we are never going to resolve the scientific questions of whether there really is a trend toward global environmental catastrophe driven by anthropogenic sources of CO2. But we could sidestep the issue by taking pragmatic policy steps designed to benefit humankind whether or not the first question has a positive or negative answer. Some suggestions:
- modify tax policy to set energy sources on a more level playing field. This could entail complete elimination of the income-based US Federal taxation system in favor of an energy-based system. It may or may not be carbon-based, but for the benefit of the human race it should show preference for environmental neutrality in sources. By environmental neutrality, I mean when taking the whole fuel to energy cycle into account. Nuclear is a virtually emissions-free, but still suffers from the environmental impact of mining and processing of fuel. Biofuels are very close to environmentally neutral - renewable feedstocks are eventually converted to CO2 and H2O, which then are harvested by fuel crops. Petroleum could be more neutral than we conventionally think, although only when looking at a very long time horizon (thousands, maybe millions of years, to naturally cycle bio materials back to fossil fuels).
- reduce and eventually eliminate tax incentives for producing petroleum.
- phase out tax incentives for energy sources that aren't otherwise commercially viable. The phase out should be connected with the technology maturity - if a mature technology still can't compete, toss it out.
Overall, I am a little disturbed at the flavor of the newsletter, in light of the banner objective of the Environmental Engineering Division.