I Don’t Think it Mattered

A while back, the US Congress decided it was important to be seen as carbon neutral:

As government waste goes, $89,000 will barely register on the meter. However, it did provide a relatively inexpensive demonstration on the costliness of political fads and the vacuousness of carbon-offset markets…

In November, the Democratic-led House spent about $89,000 on so-called carbon offsets. This purchase was supposed to cancel out greenhouse-gas emissions from House buildings…

Some of the money went to farmers in North Dakota, for tilling practices that keep carbon buried in the soil … farmers were already doing this, for other reasons, before the House paid a cent.

Other funds went to Iowa, where a power plant had been temporarily rejiggered to burn more cleanly. But that test project had ended more than a year before the money arrived…

I don’t think Congress cared one bit where the $89,000 was spent.  They were spending $89,000 for the tag "carbon neutral" — for the name itself.  If the money was [quietly] dumped in a storm sewer or if it the sum had been broken down into $100 bills and used to light the after-dinner cigars at the latest Sierra Club meeting, it wouldn’t matter to Congress one bit.  They were buying an $89,000 fig leaf.

  • morganovich

    imagine that. congress gave money to a program without checking to see that the money would be well spent.

    who would have thought?

  • It’s almost a given nowadays that the government will waste our money. Still, I was disappointed by this blog entry, because it seems that you didn’t read the full article by Washington Post. The article goes on to explain:

    “The offset purchase was part of a Green the Capitol initiative, begun after Democrats took over last year. House leaders bought compact fluorescent light bulbs to save energy and ordered the Capitol Power Plant to burn natural gas instead of dirtier coal. For emissions they couldn’t avoid, they bought offsets: 30,000 metric tons at about $2.97 per metric ton.”

    Instead of only pointing out the incompetencies, you would better serve your readers to give the bigger picture. No, I’m not talking about the usual (an nonsensical) approach of giving a counterargument to any argument. I’m talking about understanding the whole picture instead of picking out small parts to further one’s belief.

    I’m not condoning the government for wasting money. Still we as voters need to know the fine difference of whether politicians knowingly purchased these credits to solicit contributions, or they truly wanted to take a leadership role.