soc134G - Michellle Zwirn Soc 134G US Environmental Policy...

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Michellle Zwirn Soc 134G 5/23/11 US Environmental Policy Debate With the current fluctuation of gas prices, environmental policy in the United States is one of the most heated present debates. On March 30, President Obama gave a speech outlining his energy policy. After the recent natural disasters such as the devastating tsunami in Japan, he proposed that we begin to think long-term when considering options for environmental policy. He emphasized the United States’ growing dependence on foreign oil, and how he plans to cut this dependence by a third over the next decade. Obama also proposed that the United States should start looking for other sources of oil, such as our neighboring countries Canada and Mexico. Because the United States only holds two percent of the world’s oil reserves, but consumes twenty-five percent, Obama is calling for a more efficient transportation sector and for all agencies to purchase 100% alternative energy vehicles by 2015. There are several proposals for a US energy policy, all with different interests in mind. The democrats’ energy plan includes the following: eliminating breaks for Big Oil, encourages oil production to take place on land they already control, increase oil production safety standards, use the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to increase oil supply, and combat gas prices 1 . The Republican-controlled House of Representatives, who have openly blamed Washington for the country’s energy problems, recently passed several bills to open drilling off the US coast 1 . One of the main points of contention in the environmental debate is which group’s interests should be concerned when creating environmental policy. Environmental groups, energy and oil companies, the Supreme Court, Democrats, and Republicans all take a different stance when it comes to the environmental debate. The Obama Administration backs the energy companies, which believe that federal judges should not be setting environmental policy. On the other hand, environmental groups have blamed U.S. authorities, and even sued on several occasions, for not being aggressive enough in curbing CO2 emissions 2 . The reason for the disagreements between the different parties lies in the different costs and benefits. For example, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the new rule proposed to limit emissions from industrial boilers, which power oil refineries, chemical plants, and other factories, would cost the polluters $1.4 billion a year, but the “value of its health benefits would range from $22 billion to $54 billion” 3 . In the Wall Street Journal article, Move It! , the topic of the Obama
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administration’s goal to put one million electric vehicles on the road by 2015 is questioned. There are only about 1,000 public charging stations around the United States, and with an increasing number of electric vehicles on the road, there needs to also be enough spaces to charge them. Drivers will not be inclined to purchase these “green”
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This note was uploaded on 09/09/2011 for the course ENGLISH 132 taught by Professor Staff during the Fall '11 term at UCSB.

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soc134G - Michellle Zwirn Soc 134G US Environmental Policy...

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