The Washington Post published an article on November 25, 2006 titled Energy Firms Come to Terms With Climate Change. According to the authors of the article, more and more American energy industry leaders are accepting the notion that emissions of climate changing gases like carbon dioxide are going to be regulated. Even companies like Exxon-Mobile seem to be shifting from questioning the science surrounding the global warming hypothesis to figuring out effective ways to respond to the challenges imposed by both governments and technology.
One scenario that seems to have pushed the energy leaders into their strategic course change is the notion of widely varying state and local regulations. Most large companies can deal with regulations. In fact most of them actively encourage their representatives to impose regulations – complex regulatory environments favor large companies over more nimble competitors since they can more readily afford to employ teams of lawyers and compliance officers. What scares large, geographically distributed companies is a situation where there are a myriad of local laws – the economies of scale disappear when each location must be treated differently.
Another factor that has changed active resistance into resigned acceptance is the change from a Republican to a Democratic Senate and House of Representatives. The general feeling is that the Democrats have more supporters than Republicans who favor increased emissions regulations.
My position on the matter is that it makes sense to take action to reduce pollution – not just to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide. Though I freely admit that I regularly use the common atmosphere as a waste dump that enables my own personal consumption of energy benefits from burning diesel fuel, wood, gasoline, and (indirectly) coal, I would prefer if we humans could take actions that would move us closer to a zero emissions regime.
In my book, that means that power plants that are clean enough to run inside sealed submarines should receive some favorable consideration in future planning scenarios.