Obama All-of-the-Above Energy Policy Lacks Moral Urgency

English: Speech of Barack Obama at KSC.

A lot of my friends are still on a high about Obama’s recent discovery of the words climate change. He broke his climate silence after Hurricane Sandy. And climate change took prominent place in his inaugural address. In Tuesday’s the State of the Union, he brought it up again.

“But for the sake of our children and our future, we must do more to combat climate change. Now, it’s true that no single event makes a trend. But the fact is, the 12 hottest years on record have all come in the last 15. Heat waves, droughts, wildfires, floods, all are now more frequent and more intense. We can choose to believe that Superstorm Sandy, and the most severe drought in decades, and the worst wildfires some states have ever seen were all just a freak coincidence. Or we can choose to believe in the overwhelming judgment of science and act before it’s too late.”

But Obama’s message lacked the moral fortitude and urgency that he brings to the issue of gun violence. He’s still talking about climate change as if it will affect our children in a distant future and not furiously bearing down on us now with little time to right our course. And his policy choices reflect this disconnect.

Expanded drilling for oil, fracking and coal mining on public lands have created a surplus of domestic energy, but at what cost? As US CO2 emissions, decline, they raise globally, in part due to Obama’s increased rate of coal exports to Asia.

This Sunday, thousands of people will be in DC protesting the Keystone XL Pipeline. It is anticipated that Obama may approve the Keystone XL project, a Canadian export pipeline that will transverse the US to deliver one of the dirtiest forms of fossil fuel energy to an international market. NASA’s most imminent climate scientist James Hansen has called the burning of tar sands fossil fuel “game over for the climate.”

 If we continue to approve pipelines bringing in the dirtiest of fuels like tar sands he said, “there is no hope of keeping carbon concentrations below 500 p.p.m. — a level that would, as earth’s history shows, leave our children a climate system that is out of their control.”

In the State of the Union, the president did urge Congress to pursue market-based solutions.

“Now, the good news is, we can make meaningful progress on this issue while driving strong economic growth. I urge this Congress to get together, pursue a bipartisan, market-based solution to climate change, like the one John McCain and Joe Lieberman worked on together a few years ago.”

Here, we agree. If Congress ends dirty energy subsidies and places a carbon tax on fossil fuel polluters, while investing in clean energy, we can shift our power to a green energy future; one that reflects the moral urgency of what must be done.

In fact, the very next day, Senators Boxer and Sanders announced plans for “comprehensive” legislation, that will include a carbon tax.

From Sanders’s office:

“Under the legislation, a fee on carbon pollution emissions would fund historic investments in energy efficiency and sustainable energy technologies such as wind, solar, geothermal and biomass. The proposal also would provide rebates to consumers to offset any efforts by oil, coal or gas companies to raise prices.”

Get Involved:

Citizens Climate Lobby: http://www.citizensclimatelobby.org/

Forward on Climate Rally: http://act.350.org/signup/presidentsday


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Leaders, Climate Change and Energy Policy are Linked

I was horrified last night to watch President Obama and Mitt Romney try to out-dinosaur each other at the town hall debate. That brawl has no winner. It is a downward death spiral. Chris Hayes at MSNBC said after, “Discussing energy without talking about climate change is like talking about tobacco without talking about cancer.”

Yes, but even more; it can be viewed as a selfish Machiavellian play to hand the ball off to future generations. A form of intergenerational tyranny that one day will be regarded as crimes against humanity.

So why the silence? Mitt Romney has spent his entire career embracing both sides of an issue, and if that doesn’t work outright lying about it. He stands for little but desperately wants to gain the US Presidency. President Obama knows the science and what’s at stake, yet does little. And according to the New York Times, the fossil fuel industry has opened it’s wallets to defeat Obama. So why won’t Obama mention climate change?

Holding silent as the earth burns will not make it stop. We need mature leaders that can have a rational science-based dialogue. This problem has solutions but requires an immediate paradigm shift. We need to join the rest of the world and we need to do it quickly.

Take Action: Contact the White House by clicking here and ask President Obama why he is ignoring climate change.


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It’s Not Rocket Science to Change a Lightbulb

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I’m buying a new house and the current homeowner gave me a grid of their electric bills for the year. I couldn’t wrap my brain around why their electric bill was so high, until we started poking around the house. First, all of the light bulbs are incandescent bulbs. “(Gasp) Do people still use incandescent light bulbs?” I mused. I guess my answer is yes. But with the next generation of light bulbs, compact fluorescent bulbs (CFLs) lasting 8-15 times longer and using two-thirds to three-quarters less energy, the question should be why are people still using dinosaur technology, uhmm, I mean incandescent light bulbs?

Other options include LED (light emitting diode) bulbs. The LED bulbs use even less energy, 2 watts to give 60 watts of energy and lasts for up to 15 years. It is more expensive though. We saw a 2 pack of LED bulbs at Sam’s for $19.98.

Doing some comparison shopping at Lowes, Home Depot and Sam’s Club, my son and I uncovered a great summer discount program sponsored by our local utility, PNM. So the already inexpensive prices were even cheaper. So, get out to your local store and grab some energy efficient bulbs because the PNM promotion ends August 26, 2012. If you are located somewhere else, check out your local utility for summer promotions. Even if you don’t have a promotion going on right now, the energy savings over the long run makes purchasing energy efficient bulbs well worth your investment!

Remember that the CFL bulbs contain a small amount of mercury, so you can’t throw them in the trash. There are lots of places to recycle them. Home Depot and Lowes both do. You can also check out Earth911 to find a location near you.


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Republicans in Support of Carbon Tax


Tax (Photo credit: 401(K) 2012)

The Energy and Enterprise Initiative has a new video out and you should see it.

While not the first conservatives to talk about a carbon tax, (Since 2008, T. Boone Pickens has been touting his Pickens Plan that calls for a transition to natural gas and wind power with a tax on gasoline.) it’s refreshing to see Reagan’s Economic Advisor, Art Laffer and former SC Congressman, Bob Inglis call for a tax on polluters.

Straight from the E&EI’s website, they “believe that the solution is an energy policy which:

  • Eliminates all subsidies for all fuels;
  • Attaches all costs to all fuels;
  • Ensures revenue neutrality to prevent the growth of government

A sensible solution is a revenue-neutral tax swap, accompanied by a phase-out of all energy subsidies. A tax swap would, dollar for dollar, ratchet down anti-growth income taxes and shift the tax onto carbon pollution: Tax the bad, quit taxing the good, and let the free-enterprise system deliver the fuels of the future.”

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World Record: Germans Meet Half of Energy Needs With Solar Power

Solar Powerplant on former Landfill in Fürth/G...

Solar Powerplant on former Landfill in Fürth/Germany (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Last weekend, the world passed an important milestone, half of Germany‘s electricity needs were supplied by solar power. While naysayers in the US continue to profess that it’s impossible to run a major economy on renewables, the Germans are proving them wrong.

Between May 25 and 26, German solar plants produced 22 gigawatts of electricity per hour. That is equivalent to the amount of energy produced by 20 nuclear power plants running at full capacity.

In the wake of the meltdown of Japan’s Fukushima nuclear reactor last year, Germans made a commitment to walk away from nuclear power as a source of energy. They immediately closed 8 of their 17 nuclear power facilities with plans to decommission the remaining reactors by 2022.

What’s the secret to Germany’s success? Many factors, including a commitment to clean renewable energy, coupled by some smart policy decisions that helped make solar more competitive early on. Germany’s feed-in tariffs (FiTs) helped subsidize the start-up costs by paying businesses and individuals for the energy they produced.

Germany now  has nearly as much installed solar power generation capacity as the rest of the world combined. It’s on track to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 40% below 1990 levels by 2020. In a country that receives as much sunlight each day as Alaska, these statistics are truly impressive.



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Will the Solar Panels be on the White House Roof This Spring?

South façade of the White House, the executive...

Image via Wikipedia

You may remember back in October 2010 a team of students from Unity College in Maine, along with environmentalist Bill McKibben launched a campaign to return one of Jimmy Carter’s old solar panel units to the White House.

Carter installed 32 solar panels on the White House roof amidst the energy crisis of 1979 in an attempt to jump start the nation’s renewable energy future and lessen our dependence on foreign oil. Off to a good start, but in 1986 the Reagan Administration ripped the solar panels off and sent them to the storage unit. Well, as the saying goes, one man’s junk is another’s treasure. In the early 1990’s, the sustainable thinkers at Unity College relocated the solar panels to their campus and they have been silently producing solar heated water ever since.

Let’s jump forward to the fall of 2010. Desperate to see the Obama Administration take some sort of action on climate change and a renewable energy future, McKibben and his group of college students drove the panels down to Washington DC mounted on a bio-diesel van. The Administration was noncommittal,  but week’s later Energy Secretary Steven Chu stated, “…The White House will lead by example. I am pleased to announce that by the end of this spring, there will be solar panels that convert sunlight into electricity and a solar hot water heater on the roof of the White House.”

Well its now 6 days until the official start of summer and those solar panels are still not on the White House roof. But what about our big debt some might argue? Why spend money on solar panels? A coalition of solar companies led by Sungevity offered to install 102 free solar panels a donation worth $107, 900 that will reduce the White House electric bill approximately $1610 a month. I have a business degree and that sounds like a pretty good deal to me.

Now you might contend that this is not the first promise the Administration has broken and being a largely symbolic one, maybe the other broken promises like troops out of Iraq are something more to complain about. Maybe so. And hopes of seeing Barack Obama up on his roof installing a solar panel system, like President Nasheed of the Maldives did last fall, are all but gone. But considering we are coming up on the 2012 election cycle, its a good time to remind Obama of his commitment.

Click here to take action.

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