Amid skyrocketing oil, gasoline, coal, and electricity (coming to a neighborhood near you) prices, 2008 offers Americans quite serious and stark choices between knowledgeable, impassioned, and thoughtful candidates when it comes to finding paths toward a prosperous 21st century economy, on the one side, and Fossil-Fool candidates focused on tightening our shackles to the ever-more costly (pollution, financial, otherwise) and archaic oil-coal based energy system.
One of these choices comes in Oregon, where Speaker of the House Jeff Merkley against so-called “moderate” Republican Gordon Smith.
Jeff was an easy choice for membership in the ranks of the Energy Smart Act Blue page. Join me after the fold for some indications as to why.
First the List
The Energy Smart Act Blue page focuses on challengers who offer an opportunity to change the discussion and votes when it comes to energy and environmental issues in Congress. (For a more complete discussion.) In some cases, these are incredibly “Energy Smart” candidates; in other cases, their opponents are incredibly Energy/Earth Dumb, and, actually, they are mainly both at the same time. What is the Energy Smart Act Blue’s core principle?
All of the candidates on this list will help foster a Congress and political climate conducive for more meaningful action toward a Prosperous, Climate Friendly America through dealing with the challenges of Peak Oil and Global Warming.
Rather than focusing on the mercurial nature of Gordon Smith’s politically convenient navigating between fealty to George W Bush and feigning a close relationship with (and pseudo-endorsement from) Barack Obama, in this case we are going to focus on the Energy Smart side of the discussion
Concerns about energy and environmental issues have been embedded in Jeff’s career. For example, he worked in Mexico for a Quaker organization building and operating an environmental-issues camp. Not necessarily ‘energy’ smart related, but when as a Presidential Management Intern just a few years later, Jeff worked in the Department of Defense. From a Quaker environmental camp to the Office of the Secretary of Defense is a voyage that, I suspect, few have made. And then, after his DOD stint, he had a chance to work on housing security as Director of Oregon’s Habitat for Humanity. (Hopefully, he emphasized energy efficient building but that’s a question that I forgot to ask.) But that’s ancient history …
As one who has also painted his finger green, it matters to me that Jeff has green fingers.
Jeff just finished a banner year of leadership in the Oregon House with some real praise. Looking at a list of environmental/energy legislation passed in 2007, it is easy to see why the Oregon LCV Education Fund called this: “2007: An Environmental Victory” with electronic recycling program established, the setting of a 25% RPS by 2025, commentment of 1.5% of public building construction to solar power, and expansion of tax credits fo renewable energy (both for businesses and individuals). These happened, in no small part, due to Merkley’s passion and leadership as OCLV gave him their caretaker award.
Speaker Merkley was a strong leader who did not carry his ego on his sleeve. He listened carefully and always had an open door to the conservation community. He also cared a great deal about the cohesiveness of his caucus and was able to juggle the tricky balance between moving a conservation agenda forward while ensuring his caucus members agreed to the goals. Speaker Merkley deserves much of the credit for this successful environmental session.
Not just passion on the issues, but passion combined with an ability to find and see through a path to move from vision to reality.
While Jeff wants energy independence, his path is not to focus on feeding the addiction through misleading calls to drill, drill, drill. Instead, he has a holistic focus to drive energy efficiency and development of alternatives, such as electrification of transport. And, Jeff’s focus on working with Maria Cantwell on the Reducing Demand through Electricity Grid Intelligence Act is just smart, not just Energy Smart.
Jeff calls for, and plans to fight for, seizing the MG3 (making green by going Green) revolution to seize the Global Warming fight as an opportunity to foster a cleaner, more robust economy.
“Let’s sell this technology to the world and make it part of our economic strength,” he said. “A dozen or more companies have come to Oregon because of the energy tax credits we passed last year. This is an area that’s growing so fast,” Merkley said. “Venture capitalists are getting involved.
“We don’t want to be buying that technology from Spain and Germany. We want to be developing and selling it to the rest of the world. Oregon is the perfect place to be on the cutting edge because we have the possibility.”
Robustly, Jeff recognizes and accepts that we will make mistakes along this path. Accepts it, that is, as long as we learn from failed paths.
Learning … Sigh, to have a governance philosophy again where learning from, rather than covering up and excusing, mistakes is core.
Excuse that lament.
When it comes to this November, Americans quite serious and stark choices between knowledgeable, impassioned, and thoughtful candidates when it comes to finding paths toward a prosperous 21st century economy, on the one side, and Fossil-Fool candidates focused on tightening our shackles to the ever-more costly (pollution, financial, otherwise) and archaic oil-coal based energy system. Jeff vs Gordon. Will Oregoians choose the future or the past when it comes time to punch the ballot? We know what the Energy Smart ones will do.
Senate Candidate Jeff Merkley (OR) will be at Netroots Nation. Join Debbie, Jerome a Paris, Devilstower, Energy Smart candidates Mark Begich (AK-Senate) and Debbie Cook (CA-46), and myself for a conversation about Energizing America: Setting an Agenda for Progress Friday morning in Austin, Texas.