The Sierra Club is launching a nine-state campaign, Power2Change, focused on bringing clarity about what is at stake in the 2008 elections.
The choices we make in 2008 will define our future – especially when it comes to the election and energy issues. The contrast between competing visions of America’s energy future could not be sharper this year: we can move forward or continue the policies of the past.
The key points are clear …
We have the power to change direction.
Yes, we do. But, what is keeping us (the US) from moving forward to a sensible, prosperous, climate friendly society?
What we have lacked is the political will and leadership …
Between now and Earth Day (22 April), Power2Change will bring to the forefront the stark differences between clean energy progress and options with the damage that dirty energy is inflicting and could inflict in the future in each of these states, as across the nation.
While Global Warming and other ‘esoteric’ environmental impacts will not be far from the discussion, Sierra Club seems determined to recast the discussion towards the very clear benefits that come from pursuing energy efficiency and clean energy options against the very real (even if ‘hidden’, external) costs that come from polluting options.
With the opening of the effort, just a few minutes ago, the Power2Change website went active along with the posting of the 30 page Power2Change: Energy Choices and the 2008 Elections which provides a glimpse at the sort of contrasts the campaign will bring to the attention of citizens, reporters, and officials in the targeted states.
The campaign has five core policies to create the clean energy future:
20% renewable electricity by 2020
“Vastly improve energy efficiency measures in … offices and facilities” of “businesses, manufacturers, and the auto industry” both via incentives and requirements
Education campaigns to “encourage the public to improve energy efficiency”; incentives for home renewable energy and energy efficiency; and incentives for reduced driving or hybrid vehicles
Remove subsidies from the oil industry to use the funds for renewable energy
Green jobs: “Train a clean energy workforce: construction workers who know how to retrofit an older building, electricians who know to install energy efficient heating and cooling systems and solar panels, plant workers who know how to make wind turbine components and hybrid cars – and many more.”
Okay, time for a moment to not simply act like a press release. Nice list. I guess … are these the five points that would have the highest payoff in terms of reduced energy use and reduced global warming impacts? And, what about other paths that can be so directly relevant to state and local levels (e.g., within the nine states), such as writing building code for far greater energy efficiency (PassivHaus anyone? Mandated reflective roofing?)? Or, what about a focus on public infrastructure and the potential for public infrastructure energy efficiency/renewable energy programs to be a catalyst for action across the country (as per Energize America‘s Energy Smart Communities Act). Okay, not a perfect list but ever so more fruitful than the current regime’s approach …
Within the report is a look at clean and (criminally negligent?) dirty energy elements within: Colorado, Minnesota, New Hampshire, Nevada, New Mexico, Ohio, Oregon, Virginia, and Wisconsin.
From Nevada, we learn of Chris Brooks, who helped fostered a renewable energy group that has “installed more solar power in North America than any other company.” There is also Michele Burkett, who is an activist against the Sithe Global Toquop Energy Project, a planned 750 megawatt coal plant that “would create a significant amount of air pollution, including harmful microscopic particles and mercury.” Michele’s view …
Sithe Global wants to steal our clean air — but I’m going to everything in my power to stop them.
“Steal our clean air …” Yes, this is a reasonable way to describe what polluters have been doing with impunity and what they wish to continue doing indefinitely. What are our lungs and the lungs of our children in face of quarterly profit reporting? What are the impacts of Global Warming to do with executive bonus. Yes, they want to continue to have the right to ‘steal our clean air …”
Yes, the stories are interesting. From my home, the Commonwealth of Virginia, we learn that 14 campus Presidents have signed the American College & University Presidents Climate Commitment pledging serious action on their campuses to develop a greenhouse gas reduction plan for their campus, to take action (such as commiting to LEED construction on campus and Energy Star appliance purcahses) even while planning, begin executing the comprehensive plan within two years, and be transparent in processes throughout this plan. From McLean, VA, comes the story of Bob and Margi Vanderhye, who seek to live an energy efficient life, including solar panels, living as an example to their neighbors.
“I’m not sure that our quiet example has done much to affect the lifestyle of any of our neighbors,” said Bob, “except that we did talk one neighbor who is building a new house into using geothermal heat pumps, another into installing a solar hot water heater, and yet another into buying a hybrid.”
No, nothing to “affect the lifestyle” … “quiet examples” can matter.
The Commonwealth, however, is also home to Dominion Virginia Power who is driving hard, in every way possible, to get a new coal-fired electricity plant in the ground and operating before they might actually face carbon taxes. The $4 million in contributions (including $138k to Governor Kaine) is just the evident part of their influence efforts. (And, there are $100s of millions being spent around the country by polluters with truthless truthiness efforts to affect the election and delay/weaken action toward a clean-energy future.) Not only would the Wise County plant emit more than 10,000,000,000 pounds (5 million tons) of carbon dioxide annually, it would foster the continuation of devastating mountaintop removal (MTR) coal mining until Wise County will be flat enough to make a very (VERY) large parking lot. And, while Dominion keeps claiming that the plant would be good for Virginia’s economy, the State Corporation Commission’s own analysis found that the “$1.8 billion plant would actually coast the state 1474 jobs” due to increased electrical prices. That $1.8 billion almost certainly could foster energy efficiency that would make the added electricity unnecessary … after all, Virginia is last in the nation in spending on energy efficiency and conservation.
The next five weeks should prove interesting to watch … and engage in. Whether in your own state (or my own Commonwealth), Power2Change offers a path for changing the dialogue toward a cleaner, more prosperous future.