As he rises in the polls and publicity, it is important to examine the implications of Michael Bloomberg’s energy and environment policy. Is it feasible? How would it impact the US economy? What would it mean for the bank accounts of Americans? What would it mean overall to our greenhouse gas emissions and the environment?

Bloomberg’s Energy Policy makes sense for a billionaire. Does it make sense for you?- oil and gas 360

Source: Forbes

Since Bloomberg has not participated in any of the candidate debates or town halls, the best source of information about his position on these issues is his campaign website. Bloomberg’s campaign website includes a section about “Climate Change,” but no separate section about energy production or the energy industry. His climate change policy is couched in terms of opposition to President Trump, beginning, “Whether President Trump acknowledges it or not, climate change poses the greatest threat…” He also offers five policy proposals, including preventing wildfires, rejoining the Paris Agreement and cutting “economy-wide greenhouse gas emissions 50% by 2030.” Glaringly absent from his platform are the actual steps necessary to accomplish these goals.

The Washington Post quoted Bloomberg and his campaign last month with a few more details and focus. According to this article, Bloomberg’s primary focus appears to be on mitigating greenhouse gas emissions from buildings. “Buildings are a major source of pollution, said Antha N. Williams, the Bloomberg campaign’s senior adviser on climate, energy and environment.”

Bloomberg himself has put the cause of limiting pollution from buildings—yes, he means pollution from buildings—above the cause of limiting fracking and other oil and gas production. Although several of his competitors, including Senators Sanders and Warren, have vowed to ban fracking, Bloomberg’s priority is indeed cleaner buildings.

‘We’re not flipping a switch and shutting down [oil and gas] production overnight,’ Bloomberg said. ‘We’re going to help people get cleaner, pollution-free homes and buildings.’

Michael Bloomberg

This unique and somewhat eccentric focus on buildings needs some analysis. To be fair, Bloomberg is not the only politician talking about cleaner buildings. Zero-emissions buildings are a component of the Green New Deal proposed by Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and supported by Senator Sanders, but this is not the centerpiece of her climate action plan.

So, what does the Bloomberg campaign mean by “pollution-free homes and buildings”?

The existence of buildings is not a threat to the environment. Bloomberg is talking about the power used by the people who live, work, worship and entertain themselves in these buildings. He means the people in the buildings use power for heat, hot water, air-conditioning, lights, appliances and gadgets. The emissions associated with the power-consuming aspects of a building can be mitigated in part with better insulation; wiser construction to accommodate for the particular region and climate; newer energy efficient air conditioners, heaters, appliances and hot water heaters; better lights; and solar panels. In Bloomberg’s opinion, it would also be helpful to stop using natural gas for heating, cooking etc. But all of these changes are expensive, and there are still many questions about what Bloomberg actually intends.

Is Bloomberg talking about new construction and purchases only? For instance, is he hoping to compel Americans to change their existing air conditioners or install solar panels? Or would he be satisfied if only new construction had solar panels and new air conditioners were more energy efficient?

Would Bloomberg seek to compel these changes through legislation or even just new regulation? Or would he want to add to incentive programs already in place to encourage Americans to make changes with tax breaks and subsidies? (See the Energy Star program).

If Bloomberg’s plan is to compel new standards for new construction and necessary updates, it will be expensive for American citizens. If he intends to compel changes to existing buildings and working appliances, it would be extremely expensive and create added costs for every American. If homes must include these components meant to mitigate greenhouse gases, those homes will be more expensive. This will make it harder for Americans at the lower end of the economic spectrum to ever afford a home of their own. Rents will rise as well. For a billionaire, added costs may not matter much. For the vast majority of Americans, “pollution-free homes and buildings” may be too expensive. It seems infeasible.

Part of Bloomberg’s policy appears to be shifting away from natural gas as a fuel for heating and cooking within buildings. However, natural gas is currently an extremely inexpensive fuel because of the overabundance of it in the U.S., in large part because it is a product of the fracking and a byproduct of much oil production. Limiting the use of natural gas is an economically inefficient decision. It would not stop shale oil production—so it would not be as big of a hit to the economy as some of his competitors’ plans—but it would not help the economy either.

If Bloomberg’s goal is cutting greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S., this could be a step, but only if the electric grid is capable of handling the increased demands which would be placed on it. It is not a comprehensive plan like the Green New Deal. It would also avoid an immediate shock to the economy, like banning fracking. However, Bloomberg’s plan would place a major economic burden on most Americans. Unless you’re a billionaire like Bloomberg, pollution-free homes and buildings are just too expensive.

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