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Let's Go On Offense.

There is no single issue with political and human ramifications as broad as energy independence, nor is there any one issue which puts as much at stake for American voters and interests.  Our current energy policy endangers America's national security, environmental safety and public health, while also leaving consumers out to dry.  


There's a reason why consumers see gas and utility prices go up year after year, while energy companies post record profits. It's the same reason why we let Saudi oil kingpins influence our foreign policy, while at the same time looking for ways to drill in our own wildlife preserves. The same reason we see market-rigging like the Enron scandal followed up by additional deregulation...

We all know that the reason mentioned above is our failure to craft a cogent national energy policy.  Voters all over the US--and especially in Western states--are beginning to learn this as well.  Let's make sure they do so on OUR terms...

[More below the fold]

 [This begins a series of Frontier PAC diaries intended to help develop our aggressive Democratic branding narrative for 2006.]  

1.  We Have the Technology NOW.
So, to put it simply, the problem is politics.

When thinking about American energy policy in terms of a "national greatness" project, it is easy to fall into the trap of thinking that we need to develop new technologies or cultivate new markets for renewable energy to be viable.  In Western states--and nationally, in aggregate--this is entirely untrue.  According to a seminal study by the Union of Concerned Scientists, Oregon, Montana, and Nevada--to name just a few--could each produce more than 400% of the energy they currently consume with cheaply available, commecrcally viable windfarm technology.  

2.  The Oil Companies Own Congress.
Since 1990, multinational oil companies have given $100 million to Republican lawmakers.  And it's not surprising that the Congress they've bought has failed to deliver Americans a sound energy policy.

In fact, our current energy policy, with increased oil and coal subsidies paired with attacks on already scant federal budget allotments for renewable energy, is drastically subverting the will of the market: it is not cheaper or easier for us to rely on fossil fuels, and rigging our energy policy is becoming ever more important for those who that dismays.

3.  A Smarter Energy Policy Will Put Big $ Into Rural America.
Simply enacting a 20% renewable energy standard would save American consumers over $27 billion dollars--and that's just on utility bills (see the study linked above).  Building and maintaining renewable energy facilities will create hundreds of thousands of family-wage jobs and pour tax revenues into rural counties and municipalities.  The best part is that the West will lead: Montana, Idaho, Oregon, Arizona--these are states which currently rank among the poorest in the nation, but their abundance of renewable energy resources means that they'll be the center of the innovation and economic growth created by a bold and intelligent energy policy.

The Contrast:
Energy policy sheds significant light on the underlying values driving each party and serves to bring exceptional clarity to the choice facing voters.  It's obvious: Republicans serve the interests of oil companies, while Democrats fight for families, small businesses, jobs and conservation.

But we can't make this argument without the right candidates.  It comes down to choosing populism over big corporations.  This fight isn't for Democrats who covet campaign dollars from big oil, nor is it for Democrats who are afraid to take a swipe at the GOP's corporate jugular.  But for Democrats with the courage to spare voters any added bullshit, it's a fight with a major prize.

Join us at

Originally posted to Frontier PAC on Mon Apr 18, 2005 at 08:35 AM PDT.


Will Energy Independence Be a Winning Issue for Democrats in 2006?

89%17 votes
10%2 votes

| 19 votes | Vote | Results

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (4.00)
    Tips/feedback appreciated.  
  •  I agree (none)
    Energy independence matter to everyone, and it's an area where Democrats have credibility. After all, we didn't elect a Presidant and VP from the oil business.

    I'd also like to recommend Jerome's diary from this morning: Why oil prices will keep on rising - some hard facts.

  •  Biodiesel (4.00)
    You can make it yourself for practically free.  We can grow just about all we need here.  Cheaper than gas.  Better mileage.  NO POLLUTION AT ALL.  All the technology already exists, diesel engines, simple.

    Willie Nelson's got this whole campaign about it, he's trying to get all truckers to use it, so that our truckers are buying from our farmers, not from the middle east.

    We need to get on that bandwagon. THis is NOT ethanol.  This really works.  United truckers, farmers, environmentalists, America Firsters.  

    First Democrat to get Willie Nelson, Pat Buchanan, tree huggers, truckers and farmers on the stage together for a live telecast wins the election.

    •  There is (none)
      a small amount of pollution-- without modification, NOx levels are higher than regular gasoline.  However, the newer diesel cars are taking care of this (I vaguely remember reading).

      It's also important to be aware that biodiesel is only 4/5 renewable, as long as it's made with methanol made from natural gas.  If it's made with ethanol or methanol from natural sources (which is really hard to find at a reasonable price right now), then it's 100% renewable. :)

      I am seriously looking forward to buying a diesel car and running it on B100.  This fuel has me excited about the future. :)

  •  We need to become energy-sufficient (none)
    not energy supplicants!

    Hijack their frames! Cheap, easy, effective.

    by chriscol on Mon Apr 18, 2005 at 08:52:11 AM PDT

  •  what's the talking point (none)
    ...on ANWR? GOP will always raise this when talking about energy independence. i've heard that the potential there is a drop in the bucket compared to overall US demand, but what the most unimpeachable source for that data point? what's the sound bite rebuttal?
    •  ANWR (none)
      Drilling in the Arctic Refuge is risky--not least because we don't really know how much oil is up there.  But the bottom line, in Western states, that ought to refute ANWR or anything else, is this: do you want Exxon or whoever to add another billion dollars to their bottom line, or do you want to create jobs and seed economic development in your own state?  

      Ultimately, we could drill more, but unless they find a bunch of oil under New Mexico, or Oregon, or wherever, that's not going to help us at all.  

      Tell the Republicans this: If you're not brave enough to be a leader, you can always find inefficient and unsafe stopgap energy measures.  

  •  Saudi Oil Kingpins (none)
    The best talking point for this tactic is that Saudi Oil Kingpins direct our foreign policy. Populism comes in aggressive strands in the Mountain West, that are usually wary of international entanglements. Let's ride that wave - we should be self-sufficient when it comes to energy, to do otherwise, we are selling our foreign aid dollars to the country that will get us our fix, rather than direct the dollars to actual democracy building.
  •  Oil Dependence has a History (none)
    This is a narrative that needs to be understood and agreed upon.  The past holds clues to how we reshape the future, but only if it's organized in a way that people can discern the patterns of criminality and deceipt.

    I believe any campaign running against big oil needs to involve a visuals-rich demonstration of the long-term historical behavior of the oiligarchies, with solid demonstration of their criminality and influence not just in Washington, but in private and public media.

    Baker/Botts, the Bush clan, Halliburton, all the rest, really need to be featured players in an alternative narrative, slickly presented, that is drawn upon and referred to repeatedly by our energy-independence candidate.

    Linking the Republican party and the Bush clan with the Saudis, through factual visual demonstration (like a Flash sequence or comprehensive interactive online timeline/documentary or something) I think would really have an impact on the way people understand the past.  I think people out there want to know how they and their grandparents have been played by these factions.

    I think a candidate could really create a new narrative out of clues left by the old one, which was developed over time by PR companies on broadcast television.  There are so many books out there with tons of information that simply needs to be organized and presented in a way that people listening to the candidate can look up and confirm.

  •  Wedge (none)
    What, blowing up the second Death Star wasn't good enough for you?
  •  energy indepdence is the key to a better world... (none)
    it's time we made this a central aspect of our platform...i've been impressed by this proposal by frontierpac...The governor of Montana has actually been implementing alternative energy in a state that was run by big oil... .inc

    Guest opinion: Renewable energy plan offers Montanans better choices
    Montana Public Service Commission

    In Montana, the real measure of leadership is a willingness to call upon and motivate the renowned can-do, pioneer spirit that has been the hallmark of all Montanans throughout our history. Gov. Brian Schweitzer demonstrated that leadership with his proposal, Senate Bill 415, to incorporate reasonable "renewable" energy standards for Montana's electricity supply. Montanans demonstrated their willingness to step up to the plate on this score as a whole host of proponents representing agriculture, labor, seniors, counties, local economic developers, construction, and conservation appeared at the Senate hearing to support SB415.

    However, the opponents, including my fellow PSC Commissioner Brad Molnar, appear to sell the ingenuity, inventiveness and determination of Montanans short. Somehow, they discount the ability of Montana's farmers, ranchers, workers and entrepreneurs to develop and implement competitive technologies utilizing Montana's abundant natural resources as components of clean and renewable energy sources. In their grimly Dickensian view, their arguments appear to consist of can't, won't work and the sky will fall on the heads of Montana's electric consumers in the form of sharply higher electric prices. However, one might suspect that the corporate opponents to SB415 are intent on protecting their entrenched interest in the current arrangement.

    Wind energy stability

    In his recent guest column, Commissioner Molnar claimed that SB415 would yield large rate increases and rain economic ruin on the people of this state. In fact, as the PSC approved the contract brought to us by NorthWestern to purchase electricity from the Judith Gap wind project, we found the likely cost of power from that project is less than current portfolio prices, as well as forecasted market purchases. The addition of wind to the portfolio is likely to be a force stabilizing future rates. That project alone proves it is possible to craft technologically and economically sound business plans to provide cost competitive electricity to Montana's consumers from "renewable" energy resources.

    Consumer protections

    As a further assurance to Montana's electricity consumers, there are three responsibilities assigned to the PSC under this bill to protect those consumers.

    • First, the Montana Public Service Com-mission retains all of its traditional authority to review power purchase contracts to ensure they are in the public interest.

    • Second, the bill also directs the commission to develop cost-caps above which the standards (on renewable energy) would not be enforced.

    • Third, should reliability become a concern, a utility can petition the commission for a waiver from the requirements of the act, if that utility can demonstrate that additional renewable resources would threaten the reliability of the electrical system.

    Farm, labor supporters

    In an unfortunate choice of words, Commissioner Molnar's column seems to imply that the proponents of this measure are somehow akin to Russia's first communist boss, Vladimir Lenin. I'm sure this comes as a major surprise to such mainstream, some might even say conservative, organizations such as the Montana Grain Growers Association, Montana Farm Bureau and Montana Contractors Association, who were listed among the numerous proponents of SB415 in the Senate committee. Indeed, none of the proponents for SB415 deserve that comparison.

    As I have conversed with fellow state commissioners throughout the West and Midwest, I have discovered that their states are rapidly incorporating the advantages of wind, biomass and other alternative technologies into the power supplies for their residents. SB415 not only offers the opportunity for the acquisition of clean and affordable energy supplies, it creates an opportunity for economic development throughout the state of Montana. Its passage by the Montana Legislature would be a wise choice. SB415 has already passed the Montana Senate with bipartisan support. I hope the Montana House of Representatives will judge it the same.

    Greg Jergeson of Chinook chairs the PSC and represents District 1, which covers northcentral and northeastern Montana. The PSC voted 3-2 to endorse SB415 and has directed its staff to testify in support of the bill.

  •  Skeptical (none)
    I generally agree with the tone of the comments here.  I've read about peak oil and I'm personally working to make my family more energy independent, not just from foreign oil, but from any souce of municipal power.  I'm currently reading The New Independent Home: People and Houses that Harvest the Sun, Wind and Water, which is a bit of a slog, but a real eye-opener when it comes to describing the huge difference between what we can do versus what we're actually doing.

    I believe that there's going to be a painful energy crisis in this country, and it's going to come soon, and I definitely agree that we should act immediately in order to minimize the pain.  Unfortunately, I also doubt that an electorate which voted for Bush on the basis that he's "tough on terror" is going to care even a little bit about ending our addiction to oil until the crisis hits.  Far from being an electoral winner, I think that campaigning on a platform of energy independence will make Democrats look loony and out of touch.  The electorate at large isn't going to be willing to acknowledge this as an important issue until several years after the feces have impacted the air redistribution device.

    I hate to be a pessimist, and I would love to be proven wrong.  But the past few election cycles have given me a very low opinion of the intelligence or foresight of the average American voter.

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