You want "Big Ideas" for mitigating climate change? New Zealand has one. A 10-year moratorium on building new coal plants to make electricity.
A coal moratorium similar to the one New Zealand has proposed is exactly what the US needs. It's such a simple idea, no Think Tank spin papers are needed - thank you very much. Those "green" industries who'd lobby against a proposed coal plant moratorium would have an acid test for their green ethical standards. Money that doesn't go into coal can go into more eco-efficient means of electricity generation. The list of benefits goes on.
You know those 200 temporary and 30 permanent jobs the proposed coal-plant announcement press releases always talk about? You can get those from geothermal plants like the one pictured (in California), or from natural gas fired plants, or from solar or nuclear thermal plants, for that matter.
Just take coal off the table for a decade and watch how fast the US can catch up to Europe's and Japan's relatively more clean economies, as marked by lower energy intensity [BTU's needed to create a unit of gross domestic product (GDP)].The US could use a nice long moratorium to decide how important mountain top removal really is, and how best to protect the lives of coal miners for the next century. And to figure out how important it is to get more LNG ports built.
New Zealand is telling its state-owned electricity generators not to build any thermal power plants - which burn fossil fuels - over the next 10 years and is also considering applying the ban to privately owned power companies.
The ban is part of the Government's energy strategy aimed at limiting the amount of fuel it has to import, as well as cutting greenhouse gas emissions. Energy Minister David Parker says the final strategy is largely unchanged from the draft paper the Government put out for consultation.
It includes a range of initiatives aimed at making New Zealand 90 per cent secure in its energy supplies by promoting the use of renewable power sources, mainly by using wind and geothermal power.
How to work out the specifics of a coal moratorium? To keep the back room politics to a minimum, you just have to say "no." Not a moratorium contingent on a non-existing EPA definition of Maximum Achievable Technology for pollution control. Not with exemptions for R&D; pilot or pre-commercial. Not with exemptions for who ever says so. Just no.