Congress Cleaning Up Its Own Backyard
Congress may be in for some big changes. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi wants this session to become carbon neutral, "The House must lead by example and it is time for Congress to act on its own carbon footprint."
Senator John Kerry has also sponsored legislation which aims to make the entire Capitol complex carbon neutral, permanently, by 2020. It’s an impressive target considering that it constitutes 23 buildings, including the Library of Congress and a coal-burning power plant, staffed by a total of 15,000 people. It currently produces 316,000 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions every year.
As well as these lofty and perhaps unlikely goals, there has been a series of smaller achievements. The Architect's Office has stated that almost all newly purchased vehicles should be alternative-fuel compatible, and workers have switched 2,000 desk lamps over to CFLs.
All these steps appear positive, but will fall some way short of neutrality. It’s likely that carbon offsets will be needed if they are to achieve this, making it a rather hollow victory. We often see stories here at TH of some organisation attempting carbon neutrality, it’s a popular goal. However, if it is not practical or likely, then it would be perhaps more sensible to make incremental improvements, rather than stumble to reach an unobtainable target and then make up the rest with controversial offset programs.
The changes being made are positive, and helpful. It’s important that Capitol Hill should set a good example as well; they create legislation that controls who can emit what, so they should be aiming to fall well below acceptable limits. But it seems as though they may have overstretched themselves with these statements. The complex is huge, and makes use of a coal power plant that is unlikely to be replaced any time soon. It’s unlikely to be carbon neutral in any true sense any time soon. :: Yahoo!