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As you may have noticed, I've been writing about energy quite a bit these days, complained about the lack of attention it was getting, and then got a lot of it! I'd like to use this position to make things move forward in a concrete way, and use the power of the  community to come up with a message that could be used in a consistent way by Dems on the topic of energy.

As I wrote in my previous diary, I think it would make sense to summarise the policy in a few easily understood points.

We need these to be explicit, on target, and simple.

To get there, I'd like all of you to pitch in. I am providing a first draft below, based on the many suggestions I have found in my earlier diaries and prepared jointly with Meteor Blades and Devilstower (who both intend to work with me in a joint effort on this), and I'd like you to critique this mercilessly, with a view to improving it.

Here we go:

:: :: ::

Democrats have a plan to provide reliable and sustainable energy for all Americans

  • The Bush/Cheney energy policy is ruining America
  • Energy is a national security issue. America deserves a comprehensive policy and strong leadership
  • Diversification and conservation must be encouraged
  • A smart energy policy will create jobs and prosperity
  • We need measurable goals

:: ::

Democrats have a plan to provide reliable and sustainable energy for all Americans

We acknowledge the seriousness of the energy situation. We care about all Americans and will guarantee that higher energy prices do not penalize unfairly our economically weakest citizens. We propose simple measures (Mileage Credit Act, emission trading, Renewable Portfolio Standard, Home Improvement Credit Act [...]) that will yield immediate results by making it possible for Americans to make smart and informed choices. We will fund R&D in technologies that are not yet mature and will make it easier for our companies to find the smartest ways to bring them to the market. We are planning for the future, for a healthy, competitive, safe and diverse America.

The Bush/Cheney energy policy is ruining America

Under Bush, billions of dollars of giveaways to Big Energy have sunk the budget. Yet energy prices have gone up across the board. Lax enforcement or reversal of rules that protect the environment are ruining our children's future, and our relations with a number of key energy suppliers around the world have soured out of hubris or incompetence. Global warming is becoming more obvious by the day. The administration is ignoring this very real energy crisis, relying on the same "solutions" that have left Gulf Coast residents helpless and abandoned; reckless and wasteful spending on "other priorities," cronyism, neglect of the environment, and short-term fixes - all behind closed doors.

Energy is a national security issue. America deserves a comprehensive policy and strong leadership

Diplomacy, homeland security, and the economy are all connected through our energy policies. America is importing 60% of the oil it burns, from places like Iran, Venezuela or Russia. We are sending growing amounts of money to regimes that are hostile to us or to their own populations. Increasing prices are threatening the competitivity of our industry, our jobs and our prosperity. Dependence on oil and its concentrated infrastructure is making us vulnerable to unpredictable - but frequent - events like Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Oil and gas production is likely to peak in in the not too distant future while demand - and competition for the remaining resources - from China, India and others is increasing rapidly. Doing nothing is not an option.

Diversification and conservation must be encouraged.

We cannot live without our cars - Americans deserve to have more choice: more fuel-efficient vehicles, safe and reliable public transportation, or walkable communities with nearby shopping and work opportunities. Conservation efforts will be encouraged, via programs to help Americans save on their utility bills [link to more detailed proposals to be provided] and encourage them to use more efficient cars [link to DT's Mileage Credit Act]. All alternatives to hydrocarbons will be encouraged simultaneously: renewable energies (via Renewable Portfolio Standards), clean coal (with tightened emissions rules), nuclear (with appropriate standards), biofuels. We trust our engineers and technicians to innovate and take the leadership in the technologies of tomorrow, and help American companies stand at the forefront of this movement.

A smart energy policy will create jobs and prosperity.

Conservation is the cheapest energy source, and it is all in America. Simple improvements on our homes, cars and industrial facilities can yield great returns, if our capacity for innovation and hard work is properly encouraged and focused, Renewable energy will offer America permanently cheaper energy, a better environment for our children, local, well-paying jobs, and the lead in vital technologies for the future.

We need measurable goals

Our goals are simple, and we commit to putting in place the policies to reach them:

  • 20% of our electricity from renewables in 2020
  • 20% reduction of our consumption [imports?] of oil and natural gas by 2020
  • 20% reduction in our carbon emissions by 2020

Democrats take this vital issue seriously and offer responsible long-term solutions.

:: :: ::

This is meant as a statement of principles, and will need to be backed up by more detailed presentations on the analysis of the situation and the concrete proposals to be made. We should discuss these at a later stage, once we agree on this general document.

So, what do you think? Do you feel anything is missing, or that there is too much? Do you have better wording? A different way to present ideas? The floor is yours. And if you don't have suggestions or comments to bring up, do rate the ideas of others to give them more weight. I will try to make sense of all of your input to provide a new version, and we can start again until a reasonable number of us are reasonably happy.

My only request: provide positive input, i.e. if you don't like one point (or any), propose an alternative. We will use this input to prepare a new version (or several ones) for further discussion. Once we feel we have something that works, we'll try to push it to the outside world.

Originally posted to Jerome a Paris on Fri Sep 30, 2005 at 04:26 AM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar - Sept. 30 (4.00)
    Please contribute. Even if it is to propose change the order of two words. Even if it is to provide your own full version.

    The more input, the better it will be in the end. and do not hesitate to rate the suggestions you like!

    European Tribune - bringing dKos to Europe
    in the long run, we're all dead (Keynes)

    by Jerome a Paris on Fri Sep 30, 2005 at 04:24:25 AM PDT

    •  Imported Oil sources- include Saudi Arabia (4.00)
      I would like to see a change in the three sources of imported oil that you mention, (now Iran, Russia, Venezuela)

      Change that to:   Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Iran

      Americans are slow to catch on, but many actually know that 15 of the 19 9/11 hijackers were from Saudi Arabia, Bush's oil crony.

      Iraq is a major problem for America, and it is all Bush's fault, this needs to be emphasized repeatedly.

      Iran is a religious theocracy (much like Bush wants for America) and is viewed negatively by Americans.

      Venezuela has a democratically elected government, the focus should stay on the dictators and theocracies as unreliable sources of oil and the oil money is used by them to fund terrorism.

      Cut terrorist funding, drive a Prius.

    •  Great Job Jerome (none)
      Great job.....

      Conservation at both a personal, government and corporate level is very important for several reasons.

      1. It saves energy!!!!
      2. It gets people thinking about there energy consuption on a daily basis.  It educates them on what they are going to the world around them and it will perhaps lead them to find further savings.
      3. It can be a cheap program to run.

      I have a pet peeve, walking downtown and seeing every light on in a office building on a Saturday night.....why would a company allow this?

      I think many countries in the world have some very simple and effective conservation plans.....for example create a government run inspection agency for energy conservation..

      They come into an office or an industry and evaluate what can be done and the company is provided alist of changes it can make.  If they make those changes the cost are tax deductable...set goals for individual company's and provide them with training to inact them, if they reduce there energy consuption by 20% or some other number, they get another tax break.  There are a bundle of programs out there both publically and privatly developed to feed off of.

      For people, make energy efficient home upgrades tax deductable....charge a gas tax for a hummer give a gas credit for the purchase of a prius etc etc etc ect etc etc.

      I think if you create programs that provide incentives and rewards even if they aren't that significant people will be more inclined to conserve.....

      Ask Businesses to advertise a car pooling program, if you car pool you get a free parking spot....the cost of the parking spot is you guessed deductable....people that don't car pool have to pay:)

      •  Republicans love there tax breaks:) (none)
        SO this may be something they would buy into....

        There is value in everything in the world, land gold, stocks etc everything can be traded, however the air we breath, the lakes we swim and other non owned parts of the environment often have no monetary value...yet they are the most valuable reasources on the planet.....we have to give them value,  make it profitable to save these reasources.  

      •  Just an addition..... (none)
        These are example that I think would fit well into your plan......

        talking points if you will something to provide an anchor to your goals and broad policy.....anyone speaking about the plan you put forth should have a dozen of these types of things in there pocket.

    •  Educate Educate Educate (4.00)
      "The Bush/Cheney energy policy is ruining America"

      This should be changed to
      "The Republican energy policy is ruining America"

      This should be an easy sell to anyone who was school age during the Carter Administration. We had great dialogues going on in my grade school during this time. Almost everyday we discussed conservation and every month we had projects re what we could do at home to help conserve. We need to bring these policy ideas back into our educational system and the only way to do that is through federal funding and mandates.

      You is talking loco and I like it!

      by coconutjones on Fri Sep 30, 2005 at 06:43:46 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Agree, Bush/Cheney will be replaced (none)
        And their replacements will also be greedy members of the crony capitalism club that is ruining our country and the world.  Cheney could stroke out at any time with those weak knees, and Bushy could always choke out on a pretzel or ride his bike while drunk.

        Hammer home the message:

        Republicans are ruining America!

        •  don't wrestle lame ducks (none)
          I agree... focusing something as critical and long-term as energy policy on Bush/Cheney is counterproductive.  They're lame ducks... nearly crippled now, and will be gone with no heirs in a few years.  If you want to claim sustainable energy policy as a Democratic platform, you need to go after Republicans in general with it, not just Bush.

          And it also means Democrats need to get out of the gasohol subsidy ghetto and find some REAL long-term sustainable alternatives.

          "Mr Pres, what's your opinion on Roe vs Wade?" "I don't care how they get out of New Orleans!"

          by Leggy Starlitz on Fri Sep 30, 2005 at 07:28:57 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Absolutely correct it should be framed on (none)
          Republicans as a whole and not making it a Bush and Cheney situation.

          Everytime I watch the bills being debated and voted on it is almost always Republicans voting straight line lock stock and barrel on bills one after another that seriously undermine the public's quality of life.

          We can not expect to defeat the Republicans that will be up for re-election if all the blame is placed on Bush and Cheney.

          In general the energy proposal as put forth is fairly good, however I would love to have seen more weight put into the Biodiesel sector and the mention of hydro electric damns for generating electricity.

          With a combination of Biodiesel, Wind, and Solar plus Hydro electric damns would or could virtually eliminate our dependence on oil based energy.

          Electrical generating damns have proven for decades to be an economical and safe polution free way of creating energy. There are many places still available where such damns could be built if we are willing to stop killing everything with enviromental issues.

          I am not advocating that enviromental issues are not important or should be forgotten. I am simply  making the statement that in all areas we are going to find ourselves having to compromise in ways that may not have been viable before.

          Don't blame me, I am still trying to figure out what is on the Blue dress :) eaglecries

          by eaglecries on Fri Sep 30, 2005 at 09:59:26 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  dams kill the fish, wreck the eco-system (none)
            Why do you buy the Repug frame that we have to "stop killing everything with enviromental issues." ?

            This is a false choice, there are plenty of sustainable energy generators that don't have the negative impacts that dams do.

            "Cadillac Desert: The American West and Its Disappearing Water" will tell you all you need to know about the "benefits" of hydro-electric dams.  Every single useful river, and many that are not useful, has already been dammed by the damned Army Corp. and their tame congress critters of both parties.  A true environmental disaster, and inviting targets for the terrorists of the world.

            Read the book, then let me know what you think about hydro-electric power.

      •  Thats right (none)
        Start a young age:)  lets create a new generation of greenies!!!

        I like that idea, have it part of science class....a large part.  encourage recyclable food containers for lunch etc etc

    •  20 20 20 (none)
      That's my favorite part. It's memorable, it's quick and it's short.

      Here's my take on "policies:" First you get elected, then you implement whatever you want.

      To get elected, you need simple and short messages that seem to make sense when repeated in a bar or by the water cooler by average, uninformed Americans. The idea itself must contain its own backup; you shouldn't have to know more than one line to be able to extemporize about why it's a great idea. Think: Contract With (On) America. Not: Bill Clinton's endless laundry lists of random programs, which he carried off through force of personality alone.

      So, I'd keep two lines of discussion separate. One, what policies would be best? That is an important discussion, because you need to hit the ground running after election, and because you need some reality-based grounding for your "contract" ideas. But the "contract" is a distinct discussion. Don't confuse the two.

      •  for our children's children's children (none)
        My subject is a good one-liner start for energy policy.  Make it clear that we're talking about SUSTAINABILITY, something that will last humanity through the generations, not just stopgaps for the next decade.

        "Mr Pres, what's your opinion on Roe vs Wade?" "I don't care how they get out of New Orleans!"

        by Leggy Starlitz on Fri Sep 30, 2005 at 07:30:42 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  20% reduction in oil imports? No chance (none)
        I am SO glad you're doing this, and I completely agree that this is a critical issue -- both for our country, and for our Party.

        Having said that...

        The goal of a 20% reduction in imported oil strikes me as both impractical and politically un-smart.

        Our overall demand for oil is growing -- and while we can try to reduce the rate of increase, it's unlikely that we can halt growth in demand by 2020.

        Meanwhile, domestic production is decreasing -- and even if we drilled in ANWR, etc, we still couldn't replace even 20% of our current imports, let alone our imports required by 2020.

        What this does, though, is to play into the demands of the drillers.  

        The number one way to reduce the percentage of oil we import is to drill more in the US.  I don't think this is a good plank for us to stand on.

        what would joe rauh do?

        by nbutter on Fri Sep 30, 2005 at 08:04:16 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I'd simply strike it (none)
          with respect to your request for alternatives, in this case, i'd simply eliminate the line.

          I think that getting 20% of our energy from renewables covers the policy changes that would get us towards a reduction in demand for foreign oil.

          In reality, if we were gettting the SAME absolute level of oil imports in 2020 as today, it would be a big, big change -- it would mean that we were obtaining our growth from non-foreign sources (most likely renewable, with some nukes) -- and that would be huge!

          Now, if you need a third bullet, I would suggest making it a relative goal, not an absolute goal:

          "Reduce the proportion of our energy derived from foreign oil by 20%"

          Maybe this is more achievable?

          what would joe rauh do?

          by nbutter on Fri Sep 30, 2005 at 08:09:59 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Actually... (none)
            We could build all the nuclear plants you want, and it won't save a drop of oil.  We don't burn oil to make electricity (okay, there's a tiny percentage used mostly in back up generator and "campus" facilities, but you get what I'm saying).  

            If you want a reduction in oil, it has to be addressed directly.  All the nukes, solar panels, and windmills in the world won't help.

            TwoTaboos -- Politics and Religion.

            by Mark Sumner on Fri Sep 30, 2005 at 08:23:17 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  I believe you are wrong to a degree (none)
              They will indeed help but they are not the bigger issue which will need to be done to really reduce our dependence.

              The big issue is reducing or even nearly eliminating the need in transportation and heating.

              There is one way that the latter could at least see a huge improvement.

              That would be through a different version of the Hybrid vechicle.

              The change would be in creating Hybrids which used biodiesel instead of Gas or oil based auto fuel. Same thing could be done for home heating.

              Biodiesel can be made much cheaper to create by using the right raw materials instead of corn based raw material. Plus the more demand there is and the more that it is used the cheaper it becomes to create it.

              Don't blame me, I am still trying to figure out what is on the Blue dress :) eaglecries

              by eaglecries on Fri Sep 30, 2005 at 10:10:41 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

        •  Oh, it CAN be done (none)
          If you have the stomach for it.

          Bring back the 55MPH speed limit
          That would be an immediate 10-15% savings.

          Require that all companies with more than 100 employees have at least 15% telecommuters
          There's another 10%.

          You could do other things: high tarrif on truck shipments, subsidize E85 fuel, etc.

          Of course, I think what Jerome is calling for (and what I would want as well) is something a little less drastic: gradual improvements in fuel efficiency, public transportation, and conservation all adding up to a 20% drop over the next 15 years.

          TwoTaboos -- Politics and Religion.

          by Mark Sumner on Fri Sep 30, 2005 at 08:20:54 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  55 MPH (none)
            May or may not make the difference you think.

            Since Katrina, I've had my car set to show its real-time mileage.  It gets better mileage at 70MPH than it does at 55 MPH.  I can't even begin to guess how the physics for that works, but it's been consistently better at the 70 MPH from mountains to seacoast and back. And no, it's not an automatic, so it's not downshifting when it gets down to 55, or anything weird like that.

            By paying attention to the real-time mileage, I've increased the average mileage of my car from 25 MPG to 27.4 MPG - in a 1997 Volvo shaped like a brick.  Not bad.  It's not the bio-diesel hybrid I dream of, but by sticking with an existing car and improving my mileage, I'm probably doing more good than if I were to buy a newly manufactured hybrid.  I'm not sure where the energy-cost break-even would be for buying a new car (when you include all the energy used to manufacture and transport it) vs keeping my old car, but if I can keep messing around to improve the mileage, it may be a long way out.

            I do know, though, that I'm going to stick to that magical 70 MPH on the highway that seems to give the most distance per dollar as long as I have this car.  

            Of course, your mileage may vary... ;-)

            Beware the everyday brutality of the averted gaze.

            by mataliandy on Fri Sep 30, 2005 at 11:17:00 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Why do you think that is accurate? (none)
              If you are in the same gear, your statement is ludicrous.  So since it flies in the face of Newtonian physics, look for error in your measurement system.  Drag on any car is greatly increased since it is proportional to velocity squared.

              drag is proportional to velocity squared, and:

              55 x 55 = 3,025

              70 x 70 = 4,900

              So you claim "Better" fuel mileage with 62% more drag?  Unbelievable.

              Look to your driving habits, accelerator on and off, braking, the wind direction, temperature, etc. to explain the difference IF your on-board computer is working properly.

              Then if you really want to save gas, buy a Prius. My computer shows 61.1 mpg for the last 150 miles, and it checks out pretty closely when I record the gas at each fill up.

              •  Like I said (none)
                 can't even guess at the physics, but perhaps there's something other than wind drag involved?  For example, maybe the air/fuel ratio is better or something at 70 than 55, or maybe the 187,000 mi catalytic converter is doing weird things.  I really, don't know, but, UM, the fact that I need to fill up the tank less seems to give credence to the improved mileage my car claims to have since I've started experimenting.

                How much energy does the manufacture and transport of a new Prius use vs the extra gas I'm using at an average 27.4 MPG instead of 50ish that a Prius might provide (I live in the mountains and word has it that hybrids don't do as well here, so perhaps 45 is closer)?  This isn't snark, it's a serious question.

                What's the energy use break-even point if I cause the manufacture of a whole new car instead of using the car I already have more efficiently?  If I'm even going to consider shelling out mucho dinero for a new car, I need to know whether that switch is actually going to do what it's supposed to do.

                Beware the everyday brutality of the averted gaze.

                by mataliandy on Fri Sep 30, 2005 at 03:09:30 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  More input from hubby (none)
                  "Mr. Mataliandy" claims that engine efficiency is a function of the RPM, and tends to peak toward higher RPM.  So, in terms of my car, 2900 RPM burns fuel more efficiently than 2000 RPM.

                  The peak efficiency will differ for different engines in different cars.

                  Beware the everyday brutality of the averted gaze.

                  by mataliandy on Fri Sep 30, 2005 at 03:21:04 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

        •  I think it could be done... (none)
          Nearly 70% of petroleum is consumed by the transportation sector in the US.  With technology that exists right now, the average fuel efficiency could be increased by something approaching 100% by switching to lighter vehicle construction, smaller cars, much more emphasis on diesel and widespread use of hybrid technology.  If plug-in hybrids were to be widely adopted, the potential for a several-fold improvement exists.  However, a big shift to higher efficiencies would likely be offset by more driving unless fuel prices were kept high.  
          •  Switch from long haul trucks (none)
            to trains. That would help a lot. Trains can run on diesel or other fuels (coal would be horrible, but possible), they're pretty flexible that way. Trains can haul a lot more than a truck. A LOT more. They can stop along the way and unload cars, pick them up on the way back.

            So if you were shipping to Philly from the midwest or west coast, you could have one train haul freight for anywhere along the route, and drop off/pick up along the way.

            That has to be better than one truck load at a time.

            Convert/retool as many trucks as possible to biodiesel. That would help too.

            The means we need to start constructing biodiesel plants now. NOW.

            •  Trains aren't quite so simple (none)
              There are only so many miles of track extant, building more through places they are needed could be quite a problem and very expensive.  

              There is already a great deal of freight moving by rail, including intermodal shipments (trailers that stack on a set of wheels and then get pulled by a regular over the road semi) and the cost per mile is substantially lower than using a truck.  BUT it takes 1-3 days longer in transit and is subject to congestion at the relatively few unloading points.  It also is more susceptible to service disruptions (lots more roads than rails in the country) and can cause product damage (whole lot of shaking goin' on).

              I personally think that higher fuel costs may lead to a reversal of the mega-warehouse model.  More manufacturing sites in more places with smaller output equals less transit.  With diesel at $2.79/ gal it makes sense to ship things from China to Florida.  How about at $4?  $8?  $10?  At some point the financial benefits of mass production get eaten up by transit times and transportation costs.

        •  20% less imports by 2020 probably inevitable (none)
          Re "The goal of a 20% reduction in imported oil strikes me as both impractical and politically un-smart", it is likely that the decline in production on the backside of Peak Oil will equal or exceed 20% by 2020 (15 years from now), whether or not this policy is implemented. So the Democratic Party can adopt this policy for free.

          I advocate using all available incentives and regulatory changes to boost and facilitate increased biodiesel and ethanol production ASAP. (And don't tell us about Pimentel -- he has been thoroughly discredited by multiple studies; biodiesel and ethanol, especially cellulosic ethanol, do pass the energy ratio test.)

        •  20% is actually too mild (none)
          I think people who make comments like this do not understand 1) just how much oil the US uses compared to the rest of the world and 2) how much greenhouse gas emissions need to be reduced in order to avoid catastrophic global warming.

          The United States produces almost double the greenhouse gas emissions of Western Europe, which has roughly 400 million people.  Granted, we are significantly less geographically compact, but it still seems more than reasonable to reduce our oil consumption by 20%, leaving us using only maybe 50% more per capita than our European friends.  Since 2/3 of the oil we use goes to cars, all we would have to do is increase the mileage of the average freeway vehicle by 50% (which can easily be done with existing technology) and we would fly past the 20% goal, without even reducing driving (which we should also do).

          In order to stabilize atmospheric CO2 at about 20% more than current levels by 2100, we will need to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by 2050.  With other extremely populous countries like China and India experiencing strong economic growth, it is reasonable to assume that the United States will need to reduce its GHG emissions my more than 80% over the next half-century in order for the world to achieve the overall 80% reduction.

          Check this out.  It's a java applet that allows you to see interactively, based on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change models, what reductions in GHG emissions are necessary to achieve various stable atmospheric levels and temperature combinations.

    •  A tip of the chapeau/sombrero to you 3 (none)
      J a P, Meteor, DevilsT: Thank you for this effort and for this excellent draft.  I like the positive tone. The options are realistic.

      The people who respond to these energy diaries tend to be energy buffs.  We think about where it comes from and its risks and benefits.  We know that everything we do all day depends on energy generation and that it has its price.

      But most people only notice that their very existence in the modern world depends on it when the electricity fails or you can't gas up when you want to.  The people in intensive care in New Orleans died because the generators finally ran out of juice.

      A lot of people have magical beliefs:  "Hydrogen will solve everything, and it's everywhere, and it's free!"

      Historically it has taken about 50 years to transition to a new energy resource.  

      So a very important plank has to be education.  Conservation classes starting in elementary school.  An energy-awareness program in the media.  An examination of each energy resource and its risks and benefits.  This will all make people smarter consumers of energy.

    •  FWIW (none)
      I'm not an important voice on this site, never the less I think you should be given Front Page status. Or at least have one of the FP'ers place your energy diaries on the front page. IT'S THAT IMPORTANT!!!
    •  Energy policy cannot be divorced from (none)
      land use policy and patterns of development.

      James Howard Kunstler (in "The Long Emergency") calls our present suburban sprawl development pattern the greatest misallocation of resources in history. It has created our utter dependence on the automobile and our belief that cheap gas and easy motoring are our birthrights. Building, outfitting, and servicing sprawl now make up the lion's share of the entire U.S. economy.

      Without cheap gas, suburbia simply doesn't work. People expecting some miracle new fuel to come along and replace the 900 million gallons of petroleum the U.S. uses EVERY DAY without major dislocations are seriously deluded.

      We pay lip service to "alternatives to cars". If you were a transit designer, how would you route buses through a typical aggregation of sprawling suburban "pods"?

      News is what they don't want you to know. Everything else is publicity. --Bill Moyers

      by RobLewis on Fri Sep 30, 2005 at 01:07:59 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Another view on energy (4.00)
    Hydrogen vs. Octane

    First of all, we have an Octane infrastructure.  As opposed to a Hydrogen one.  Migrating to a new infrastructure would be extremely difficult and not necessarily the right solution.

    The energy density of octane is considerably higher because you get a lot of hydrogen and carbons that can combust with free oxygen (presumably free, neglecting the effects of Nitrogen) that give you a lot of bang for the buck.

    Further hindering a migration is the amount of equipment that people already own that uses octane as a fuel source.  Unless easy retrofits are available (AND THEY WON'T BE), that will prevent hydrogen from being a viable solution.  Let's not forget that hydrogen is also a greenhouse gas.

    Therefore, whatever solution we're going to have will involve the generation of octane.  It may be by gassifying coal, it may be from using a nuclear power plant to sequester CO2 from the atmosphere and to electrolize water to outright make the stuff, but we're going to be in the octane (or kerosene or pick your hydrocarbon of choice) business for anything that can't stay attached to the grid.

    The Grid

    I've been pushing Solar Power Satellites for years.  There is a huge amount of information on them on the web.  Frankly, instead of trying to go to the Moon or Mars, we should be building a network of satellites - - this will actually put us in the position of being an energy exporter (when the satellite is not over the US, it is over someone else.  We can sell the power to THEM.)

    Hydroelectric has its issues.  Even wind power has issues in that it tends to interfere with the circulation of heat from the equator to the poles.

    Personally, I like the pebblebed design for a Nuke plant, but I like even better the idea of not polluting at all.

    Beamed microwaves down to a rectenna farm are not dangerous, and you might as well get dual use out of that cornfield.

    Seriously, we need to think out of the box.  There is a lot of information on Solar Power Satellites on the web and even at NASA.

    We also need to find a way to combine sequestering operations with octane/hydrocarbon generation so that our only remaining problem will be one of waste heat.  

    Happy little moron, lucky little man. I wish I was a moron, my God, perhaps I am! -- Spike Milligan

    by polecat on Fri Sep 30, 2005 at 04:37:51 AM PDT

    •  SPS (none)
      SPS is a wonderful idea in theory, but I have a couple of problems with it in practice. First and foremost is the enormous capital costs associated with building the things. The cost per kilogram to LEO is huge, and it doesn't get any cheaper when you move to geosynch, which is the logical place to put them. A square kilometer of photocells (roughly 1 GW of sunlight; somewhat less useful power due to conversion inefficiencies) ain't cheap either.

      Secondly, and relatedly, we have very little experience in assembling space structures that are bigger than one rocket's worth of payload. ISS doesn't exactly inspire much confidence in our ability to do so.

      Basically, I guess what I'm saying is that the technology isn't there yet to make SPS practical. This speaks to a need to develop low-cost heavy-lift boosters and research into robotically-assembled structures (to avoid having to send human work crews out to geosynch). Once we have those building blocks in place, SPS is doable at a useful power level.


      •  Another SPS problem... (none)
        Environmentally, one has to look very critically at SPS.  We're talking about harvesting solar energy that would otherwise not have hit the earth.  I think this is very worrisome.  I would much prefer a ground-based, DISTRIBUTED outlay of photovoltaics.  A distributed system is a far less attractive target to enemy states, is much better for disaster recovery, and is controlled locally, rather than corporately or by the government.  JMHO...
        •  It's a small effect (none)
          unless we reach the point where terawatts are being beamed down. Some numbers: At Earth's orbit, solar energy density is roughly 1400 W/m^2. The cross-sectional area of the planet is 128,000,000 km^2, or 1.3e14 m^2. We thus get about 2e17 Watts of solar energy incident. The albedo of the Earth, the fraction of light which is reflected, is roughly 30%, so the remaining 70%, or about 1.5e8 gigawatts, is absorbed.

          150 gigawatts of space-based power would thus represent one part per million increase in the energy influx on the planet. Not something to ignore, but I'd spend more time worrying about carbon dioxide levels causing global warming, holes in the ozone layer, etc.


          •  Why not pursue both approaches? (none)
            The big advantage of doing it in space is that the land remains habitable down here.

            Now, in AZ and southern CA, TX, etc. we SHOULD be putting cells on roofs and the like.

            Happy little moron, lucky little man. I wish I was a moron, my God, perhaps I am! -- Spike Milligan

            by polecat on Fri Sep 30, 2005 at 08:38:49 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  Actually (none)
            If we have the larger rectenna farm, there is nothing preventing us from having BOTH Geosync and LEO transmitters, and anything inbetween.

            As the economics change (either in Mass, efficiency, cost of access to orbits) the equation may shift several times between different locations and power levels.

            For that matter, tethers will have a role in orbital placement for later models.  This whole thing can be done incrementally, possibly even on a competitive scale.  Free enterprise anyone?  Collect royalties on the emitters that you put up...

            Happy little moron, lucky little man. I wish I was a moron, my God, perhaps I am! -- Spike Milligan

            by polecat on Fri Sep 30, 2005 at 09:06:23 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Ah, tethers (none)
              If we ever get to the point where we can build a beanstalk, most of these arguments become moot. That lets us move essentially arbitrary amounts of stuff into orbit for very very little cost. The mass budget for any sort of beanstalk makes my 2 kton powersat look like a pygmy, though. Beanstalks really require space-based industry; asteroidal mining, comet capture, and the like.


        •  But it combats global warming (none)
          half kidding!

          In principle I think we should favor local scale technology, rather than more large centralized systems.

      •  in general (none)
        This speaks to a need to develop low-cost heavy-lift boosters and research into robotically-assembled structures...

        We really need some "big dumb boosters" (a NASA term from way back) to replace the shuttle system, which is (A) getting quite aged, and (B) has to be the single least cost-effective launch system I've seen for most things.

        Remote assembly could be seen as an extension of numerically controlled automated manufacturing processes currently existing and in use all over the industrialized world.  It's a refinement of stuff that exists.  And a good idea, as long as we get the job of building the systems here.  No outsourcing of this at all - it's a national security issue of the highest order.  Once it's done, then we can think about selling versions to others.

        Still, I think I'd like to see more research go into things a bit less Star-Trek-y at the moment.  While space flight is never going away - and I firmly believe that's as it ought to be - the first steps of the solutions we need right now will have to be take here on the earth's surface.  And perhaps a few beneath the waves?

        If you vote Republican, you vote for corruption.

        by MN camera on Fri Sep 30, 2005 at 06:49:41 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Much less Star Treky than going to Mars (none)
          Or even back to the moon.  Look, this is a low-risk, relatively low-cost, low pollution solution.

          It just doesn't justify Manned Spaceflight.  So what.

          If we're going to spend $200B on something, this would actually get us somewhere.

          Happy little moron, lucky little man. I wish I was a moron, my God, perhaps I am! -- Spike Milligan

          by polecat on Fri Sep 30, 2005 at 06:57:44 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Big dumb boosters (4.00)
          would definitely be needed in this scenario. To get a few gigawatts back to Earth (and for anything less, it's hardly worth the trouble), we're definitely talking tons, and most likely kilotons, worth of stuff that needs to be lofted. Doing that with a Shuttle will take a long time, and cost more than the power is worth.


          •  How many countries are in the booster business? (none)
            China, France, USA, RUSSIA.

            You've got an actual competitive market.

            And, with LEO and a careful selection of orbits, this will work.  Again, look at Iridium.

            Happy little moron, lucky little man. I wish I was a moron, my God, perhaps I am! -- Spike Milligan

            by polecat on Fri Sep 30, 2005 at 07:21:00 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Iridium (none)
              The Iridium satellites were a bit over half a ton each, and there were about 60 or 70 of them in the full constellation. A brief Google turns up estimates of about 20 kg/kW for solar cells. Chop that by a factor of ten by using focusing mirrors (and ignoring the mass of those mirrors, the support structure, etc), and that gives about 2 kg/kW. A single 1 GW satellite would weigh in at 2000 tons, or about 30 times as much as the entire Iridium constellation. I really don't think you want to start your SPS system by launching a dozen of these things.


      •  Mirrors... (none)
        You don't need a large array of photovoltaics... just a smaller generator with lightweight mirror s (and the means to deal with light pressure).  

        If they didn't mass so much, you could even do it with a stirling engine, but we wouldn't.

        LEO is vastly cheaper to get to than Geosync and for that matter we've already demonstrated with Iridium that it is possible to loft a bunch of cheap satellites.  Iridium's problem was the business model.  (and the crappy performance specs for the phone, and how Motorola handled their relationship...)

        Finally, we don't have to be in as many orbits to cover the US .. A booster based upon shuttle components is already in the works, and we still have the Delta rocket.

        You really can get a lot of bang for the buck.  And, this is the gift that keeps on giving.  If the satellites are cheap enough, maintainence may not even be an issue.  (This is what the shuttle was designed FOR in the first place.)

        I think you really need to look at the research that's been going on since Sputnik.  We don't have to LIVE in these satellites.  In fact, we probably don't need a manned spaceflight program to put them up or to maintain them.

        Happy little moron, lucky little man. I wish I was a moron, my God, perhaps I am! -- Spike Milligan

        by polecat on Fri Sep 30, 2005 at 06:55:00 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Disagree about orbits (none)
          The problem with LEO is that the satellites move, a lot, relative to the ground stations. That means you need a lot of ground stations and many satellites, to get any sort of reasonable duty cycle. Not to mention, satellites with fairly sophisticated beam tracking systems to hand off megawatt-range microwave beams from one ground station to the next.

          Geosync, on the other hand, lets you build your space-based infrastructure incrementally. Build one sun-sat and one ground station. When you have the need and the money, build a second pair, etc.

          And actually, geosynch isn't that much more expensive to reach. The hard part is getting in orbit at all; the delta-v required to reach high orbit is a small fraction of the delta-v needed to get into any orbit at all. You can also take your time, using a low-thrust ion drive or something to transfer orbits, if need be.

          If your construction is fully automated (and I agree that that's the right way to do it, but that's another toolbox that needs to be developed), the actual orbit is irrelevant to ease of construction.


          •  Geosync is 20,000 miles away (none)
            Whereas LEO is only 400 miles away.  Power strength falls off with the SQUARE of distance.  Forget Geosync.  You're talking about Duty Cycle?  Let's talk about efficiency.

            Besides, there is a premium on Geosync orbits.  They're not cheap and they are a limited resource.

            Happy little moron, lucky little man. I wish I was a moron, my God, perhaps I am! -- Spike Milligan

            by polecat on Fri Sep 30, 2005 at 07:18:31 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Inverse square law (none)
              The 1/r^2 effect means that your one rectenna farm has to be bigger, that's all.

              Let's crunch some numbers. Assume that we want to deliver 1 GW of baseline power to the US (by baseline, I mean always-on). Let's say that a 1 GW LEO satellite needs a rectanna array 50 meters on a side, for a total collection area of 2500 m^2. However, in order to keep this array lit 24 hours a day, you are going to need something like 6 1 GW emitters in LEO. Probably more, since the US is far enough north that a LEO station in equatorial orbit will have a very limited field of view, and inclined orbits mean that you need many more satellites to provide the same degree of coverage. Alternatively, you can build a single emitter and a whole array of ground stations, but (a) geography will limit the coverage and (b) ground transmission losses will eat you alive.

              Compare with geosync. I build one emitter in space. It's a factor of 50 further away, so I need 2500 times the collecting area to get the same amount of power back. Fine. My rectenna array is 2.5 km on a side. That's not cheap, but I make the money back because I've only had to build a single emitter in space. Even if you scale everything up by a factor of ten in linear size, a 25 x 25 km array is something that could be built for a few gigabucks, cheaper than adding another orbiting emitter to the system. The goal is to minimize the amount of construction in space; we know how to build big things on the ground.


              •  Philosophy (none)
                I guess it depends upon the cost of an emitter.

                I'm of the "lots of cheap little emitters in LEO" opinion, and it lets me sell power around the world.

                And you're of the "a few expensive big emitters in GEO" opinion.  You're requires construction abilities in space (which is a royal pain in Geosync) and mine doesn't require construction in space at all.

                Both should be explored.  Both might be viable.  I'd like to find a way that demonstrates progress and am of the opinion that a demonstration project with cheap, little emitters that can be scaled up has a lot more salable potential than the big one.  I also like being able to sell power to people living under the orbits as a form of US Foreign policy.

                I think we're violently agreeing here. :)

                Happy little moron, lucky little man. I wish I was a moron, my God, perhaps I am! -- Spike Milligan

                by polecat on Fri Sep 30, 2005 at 08:32:27 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Fair enough (none)
                  I'm not going to be dogmatic enough to claim that GEO is the only way to do SPS. It's just that my reading on the subject has convinced me that it's the best way. You obviously disagree.

                  We agree on goals, but differ on methods. In any event, the necessary prerequisites to do either approach are largely the same.


                  •  Who do we beat over the head? (none)
                    Or, does one of us have to write a diary with pictures and arrows and pimp the daylights out of it to get attention?  (Obviously we talk about both methods, current research on generation, reasons that a space elevator helps the process, etc.)

                    Or, do we ghostwrite it and persude someone like Jerome or Devilstower to submit it?

                    Happy little moron, lucky little man. I wish I was a moron, my God, perhaps I am! -- Spike Milligan

                    by polecat on Fri Sep 30, 2005 at 08:53:51 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

      •  You are thinking of this in the wrong framework (none)
        First the orbital position would be at the geo sychronos point, approximately 23,000 miles above earth.  Low earth Orbits decay and cause lifting and positioning problems, ie service visits to fix thrusters and provide fuel.  The structure has to be signifcantly stronger for low earth orbit to adress stress of gravitation pull, decay and trace atmosphere.

        SBS is not costly in real terms.  I have seen estimates as low as 9 billion bucks with output energy equal to 20-30 coal fire plants.  Even if the cost was 30 billion that is the same as 30 weeks of fighting in Iraq.  The big difference would be the money would be in our economy, in developing this energy dream - jobs and the multiplier effect of the investment would be very beneficial.

        A consortium in a public private partnership with utilities and the federal government make this investment cheap in the long run.  It mayeven be possible to internationalize the effort with Japan or other energy starved nations.

        It is attainable and not that difficult technologically.  Certainly it will cost less in lives lost for oil wars, and useless destructive spending.

        •  Well, (none)
          If you read what I wrote, you'll see that I agree with you that geosynch is the logical and sensible place to put an SPS. I disagree, however, that this is something we can do economically right now. The cost of launching stuff into orbit is just too high.

          The Shuttle has a cargo cost of about $10k/kg. More rational rockets are, of course, significantly cheaper, but currently bottom out at a few thousand dollars per kg. Let's say $1k/kg launched to LEO, and ignore the cost of transferring to a geosynch orbit and assembly. Upthread, I posted an estimate that a 1 GW station would mass at least 2000 tons, or 2 million kg. That's 2 billion dollars worth of cheap-rocket launch costs, to get a gigawatt into orbit. By the time you've finished buying all of the solar cells and other support materials and have moved the whole thing into a useful orbit, the cost has (conservatively) doubled. 1 gigawatt is about the equivalent of 3 or 4 fossil-fuel plants, so your 30 or 40 plant-equivalents would be a 10 GW SPS system, with roughly 40 billion dollars in construction costs. That's too expensive; other forms of power (like nuclear fission) are far cheaper, even after paying the auxiliary costs.

          If we can get the price to orbit to a few hundred dollars a kilogram (or preferably lower), than SPS becomes attractive. Until that happens, it's just not economical. The one unavoidable prerequisite for a practical SPS system is cheap access to space. Support research into better 'big dumb boosters'.

          Linear accelerators and mass drivers are also worth looking into for cargo shipments, but I haven't heard of any even vaguely serious plans to build a linac big enough to throw stuff into orbit.


          •  The mass question (none)
            If you don't do the whole thing with the current generation of solar cells, life is a lot different.  Again, there are mirrors, and there is also a printing technology for solar cells (less efficient, but MUCH less mass).

            It does come down to mass, clearly.

            Happy little moron, lucky little man. I wish I was a moron, my God, perhaps I am! -- Spike Milligan

            by polecat on Fri Sep 30, 2005 at 08:35:54 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  $40 Billion (none)
            Is not too much if the funding was 50% comercial and 50% federal.  This is a strategic consideration for the country and is easily less expensive than the war in Iraq and the future war with Iran - the coming shortages resulting after peak oil.  The sun is the least cost best solution in the end.
    •  Article on Space Solar (none)
      My school's dean (a physicist by training) wrote an article that seems to address this topic:

      Steve Fetter, "Space Solar Power: An Idea Whose Time Will Never Come?" Physics and
      Society, Vol. 33, No. 1 (January 2004).

      I must admit, I haven't read it. [I just discovered it on his curriculum vitae last night.]



      Maryland School of Public Policy Master of Public Policy Candidate

      by magicrusslc on Fri Sep 30, 2005 at 06:57:30 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  And I responded :-) (none)
        Actually, Steve's article in P&S was in response to a brief letter of my own, wondering why physicists weren't looking into space solar power a bit more. The editor kindly warned me his article was coming and we had considerable back and forth before he published it, but I think he still misrepresented a number of things.

        Anyway, if you want to read the article and response, here they are:
        Space Solar Power: An Idea Whose Time Will Never Come? by Steve Fetter
        Earth vs Space for Solar Energy, Round Two by Arthur Smith.

        Basically, the points of disagreement are on

        • Market conditions for intermittent power (terrestrial solar) vs continuous baseload power (space solar)
        • whether solar modules for space use are intrinsically much more expensive than for terrestrial
        • practical limits on specific power (kW per kg) of space modules
        • the potential for improvements in launch costs and solar module costs

        I think we can both agree that solar R&D applicable to both markets deserves a lot more funding... and if that's there, it wouldn't hurt to spend a bit of it looking into the space options too.
    •  The one thing ... (none)
      about using energy beamed down by satellite, that has always bothered me, has been the possiblity to turn them into energy beamed weapons very easily.  I don't think this can be overlooked.
    •  Flying electric generators (none)

      Flying electric generators are a more practical way of achieving much the same results as solar power satellites. Power 24/7 (though amount varies with time), except in large storms which tend to take out power distribution anyway. As much power as you want at less than 2 cents per kWhr. Production models could be ready to deploy in a few years with some investment. It costs a lot less energy and money to loft a generator to an altitude of 2-6 miles than 22,000 miles. And, the generator lifts itself - no rocket needed. Basically, these things are a cross between a kite, a helicopter, and a wind turbine and would require restricting 0.25% of US airspace to meet 100% of our electric usage. Sounds farfetched at first (though not in comparison to SPS) but isn't as crazy as it sounds (prior comments by author). Environmental impact would be very low. Buildings kill far more birds than wind turbines. The amount of energy in the atmosphere in the form of wind is staggering. Almost all of the energy they take out of the air gets converted to heat at some point which ultimately gets converted back to wind, with a some being radiated into space (because the heat has been concentrated resulting in higher temperatures and more radiation). The effects could actually offset global warming some as global warming leads to increased winds. 43 groups of 600 generators (20MW) provide all US electricity.

  •  Trying to slowly digest your recent work. (none)
    One comment: what do you propose to do, assuming some success with the public, about the clamors for reorganization, new energy czars or poobahs or whatever, restructuring with DHS and all the rest?

    You see where I'm going. Bush's reshuffling of the deck chairs hasn't done much about the approaching icebergs. I'm thinking just leave everything more or less as it is, implement policy, and if bureaucratic, administrative changes are needed, address them as they arise.

    Less panic, more calm action as opposed to the frantic colored lights of the Bush mob.

    -7.88, -7.74 In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies but the silence of our friends. -- MLK

    by melvin on Fri Sep 30, 2005 at 04:40:09 AM PDT

    •  Calm action begins here (none)
      There are no blinking lights and sirens here.  This is our strategic effort that Jerome tackles here versus our tactical effort.

      The policy platform that Jerome has drafted to which we will contribute is at least 1.5 years away from inception in terms of regulatory change and tax policy (assuming we win back a majority in Congress).

      Full inauguration will another 2 years after that assuming either a substantive 2/3rds majority in Congress and/or a win of the White House.

      There's the possibility that moderate Republicans can be won over, but that will not happen until the back of the current "culture of corruption" in Congress has been crushed, not merely deterred.

      We're also cognizant that personal economic decisions and practices will effect immediate change on the market -- a tactical approach -- as well as policy, with greater ease than trying to push this through Congress now.  

      Most of us are clear-eyed about the prospects and the challenges ahead.  It will be a long, hard slog, but we also know that it will be far more difficult if we wait to begin laying out the groundwork required until there is a need for blinking lights and sirens.  It could be too late if we wait that long to talk strategy.

      •  Agreed (none)
        I was assuming this is being seriously debated 3 years from now.

        -7.88, -7.74 In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies but the silence of our friends. -- MLK

        by melvin on Fri Sep 30, 2005 at 06:17:58 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Swing vote needs this sooner rather than later (none)
          There are far too many swing voters and reforming Republicans who've complained they don't know what we stand for.  We need these people on board ASAP so that they can help evangelize the rest of the Republican party (as much of a stretch goal as that is).

          Discussion and debate must begin now so that the message is crystal clear by February 2006 and the beginning of the election year.  Swing and reformed voters must see us and this policy as their only real choice.

      •  The urgent thing (4.00)
        is to se the terms of the debate. This is too important an issue for it to be played by Republican rules (more drilling, less regulation, right to the "American way of life", etc...)

        Republican policies are ruining the country

        is a slogan that should not apply only to energy but which applies particularly well there. It could act as a rallying slogan.

        European Tribune - bringing dKos to Europe
        in the long run, we're all dead (Keynes)

        by Jerome a Paris on Fri Sep 30, 2005 at 06:28:00 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Debate internal, not external (none)
          Got your back on that, as you can see in my response  above.  (I hate this about threaded conversations, so non-linear at times.)

          But I think the debate should be internal within the ranks of progressives, not external.  We have a broad enough range of perspectives that we should be able to tighten this down to near-perfection.

          If we do an effective job internally, beginning now as you say due to urgency and due to timing as I've said, no debate will be necessary outside.  Un fait accompli, n'est-ce pas?  It will be the defacto choice of the majority of Americans.

          We also have an ugly but real ace in our pocket that will do much of the heavy lifting for us.  Many, many swing voters will be naturally converted this winter as heating costs become untenable, let alone the cost of gasoline.

          Progressives need only point out when swing voters complain about costs, Hey, I voted for better energy policies in 2004. Are you going to do better in 2006? in 2008?

  •  Building an effective Dem energy policy... (none) like helping the German Socialists in the 1930s to control inflation.

    The issue is very real, but is dwarfed by other considerations.

    •  I strongly disagree (4.00)
      This is, and will be, one of the two most important issues on the planet. It is also a key part of solving the other issue, the continued threat to world peace by an increasingly desperate administration. If the American Democratic party cannot provide a solid, united, and defensible platform and real leadership on this and other issues, there is, as you allude, the very real possibility of the US sliding into Fascism.

      "The bicycle, the bicycle surely, should always be the vehicle of novelists and poets" , Christopher Morley

      by Chris Kulczycki on Fri Sep 30, 2005 at 04:55:52 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I think it's more akin... (4.00)
      to eliminating crippling war reparations in the '20s.

      If we don't deal with it now then all hell will break loose down the road and we will be at least partially responsible.

      Most of the 'more important' stuff that has been talked about here recently, like endless maundering on about the supreme court, has achieved nothing.

      Energy policy is great for a couple of reasons:

      1. Most reasonable Americans of all parties realize that something needs to be done.
      2. The Republicans are obviously failing in their energy policy.  (Gas up 50% under their watch.  War for oil failing dismally.  Massive giveaways to energy companies achieving nothing.  Average vehicle MPG down, etc.)
      3. Democrats aren't obviously tied down to really stupid policies yet.
      4. It is an actual, real, vital issue.
    •  Actually, I think it organizes (4.00)
      most of the issues that are causing us problems. It might not directly affect health care, but it surely affects foreign policy, transportation policy, household economics, the environment.

      Future Democratic presidential candidates: We NEED a sustainable ENERGY PLAN now!

      by lecsmith on Fri Sep 30, 2005 at 05:23:29 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  As this diary shows it effects healthcare too (none)
        This link shows an idea Obama has to tie healthcare relief to the auto industry in exchange for better mileage.

        A great way to tie universal healthcare, energy, and the economy into one great democratic idea.

        Instead of piecemeal tho, this should be being presented as part of the the democratic "Apollo" plan.

        Mythology is what we call other people's religion-Joseph Campbell

        by Sherri in TX on Fri Sep 30, 2005 at 06:55:04 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Kudos to Obama (none)
          I was going to dairy that one yesterday, but I'd used up my allotment. Darn it.

          You have to give the man dibs for:

          1. thinking outside the box
          2. making the connection between energy and health without making it seem too heavy handed

          Among people who have heard Obama's plan, I can't help but think that every time GM complains about health care cost, they're going to remember this idea.

          TwoTaboos -- Politics and Religion.

          by Mark Sumner on Fri Sep 30, 2005 at 07:35:31 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Obama's philosophy (none)
            His notions about overcoming polarization and name-calling--in other words, not buying into the Rove strategy of anger and divisiveness--can all be applied to discussions about energy.

            It is possible to disagree without being disagreeable.  

            The presentation of the Dem energy policy should reflect the attitude Obama expresses in his diary today.  Instead of playing to the extremes, we should come up with a pitch that will resound with the millions in the middle who are working hard, have kids, each parent holding down two jobs, barely getting by, worried about rising utility bills this winter, in debt....

    •  Lupin, I disagree slightly on this one (4.00)
      This is like helping the German Socilaists fight inflation in the early 20s.

      There is still a chance that it is not too late.

      European Tribune - bringing dKos to Europe
      in the long run, we're all dead (Keynes)

      by Jerome a Paris on Fri Sep 30, 2005 at 05:34:14 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Indeed (none)
        You're absolutely correct and I'm wrong and was being way too snarky. I don't mind fessing up to it.

        My post had less to do with your good intentions, and the necessity to get our collective heads out of our asses on energy, than my zero confidence in the Democrats to be anything else but a Weimar-like castrated opposition.

        I did recommend the diary, as always. Keep us the good work.

  •  Question Time last night (none)
    On the BBC last night Question time took up the topic of environmental conservation, and the inherent problems therein. One of the big points as a way to pass the buck was to say that 4, even 8 years isn't long enough to implement an effective energy policy.

    Certainly, Blair's recent form has been indicative of a bit of an about-face. There's a great deal of talk about what is being said by politicians and how long term solutions are necessary, but really if we are going to change things, we need to do it from the ground up. It is not the fault of the politicians that the population is so consistently wasteful. Certainly some programs and restrictions on the corporate world are in order, but the refusal to walk anywhere by most Americans, and the willingness to waste huge amounts of electricity are the root problems here.

    My question is, where is the action for and of the people?

    Bismark once said God offers protection to fools, drunks, and the United States of America. Too bad for us, Bush hits three out of three.

  •  Jerome, not only will a smart energy (4.00)
    policy create jobs and improve our environment, but wouldn't we be creating methods and technologies that we could sell to other countries concerned about the same thing?

    Future Democratic presidential candidates: We NEED a sustainable ENERGY PLAN now!

    by lecsmith on Fri Sep 30, 2005 at 05:18:42 AM PDT

    •  I like it (4.00)
      Instead of being dependent on Saudi Arabia, we BECOME the Saudi Arabia of alternative energy.  (Just leave out the theocracy and the uhhhh, blowing things up.)

      The Toby Keith/NASCAR/drool set likes the notion that the USA is #1, so perhaps it could be marketed to them that way, while the rest of us appreciate it simply for its merits.

    •  Yes, exactly (none)
      Go to a wind farm in the United States right now, and take a look at the windmills.  Where are they made?  Odds are, in Europe.

      While the old energy industry is getting billions from Bush, alternative sources are getting a relative pittance.  The result is that the US is now becoming dependent on foreign sources, not only for our oil, but for the technology we need to break free of oil.

      Only with a major focus on this area can we reverse this, develop rather than buy our own infrastructure, and become an exporter of this technology to others.

      TwoTaboos -- Politics and Religion.

      by Mark Sumner on Fri Sep 30, 2005 at 07:10:42 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  That's what Wes Clark said early on (none)
      before the party toned him down (shut him up?). Develop new energy technology, export it, add jobs in the US. It's still a great idea that would change the world, literally.

      It is better to die standing than to live on your knees. - Emiliano Zapata

      by cotterperson on Fri Sep 30, 2005 at 08:21:28 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Frame: Democrats = Clean Energy Entrepreneurs (none)
      Exactly. This will lead to prosperity, and not just because of boring things like conserving wisely, taking prudent precautions, and being responsible. We will actually be able to innovate and invent not just new technologies, but new industries that will make Americans a lot of money. Al Gore and plenty of others have been saying this for a long time.

      That argument should appeal to a whole different segment of voters and eat into the Republican base. It has the added advantage of being true.

      Corporatist cowboys like to be given free rein, largely based on the contention that they are the brave risk-takers who drive the engine of progress and democracy. But in the area of new environmental technologies, with a few notable exceptions, they've been gutless, dragging their feet, holding us all back.

      The question must be asked of Corporate America: Just why aren't you joining the rest of us in rising to this challenge? Don't you think you can succeed and prosper? Just what is it about American ingenuity and perseverence that you don't believe in?

      We need a new kind of entrepreneur for a new century. Democrats can foster this entrepreneurship far better than Republicans can, because Republicans are beholden to old-style corporate cronyism.

      This fits nicely in a larger frame: that Democrats believe far more in the core American values -- democracy, freedom, accountability, entrepreneurship, etc. -- than Republicans do.


      No, no, of course I respect your opinion. That's why I want to give it a decent burial.

      by Sharpner on Fri Sep 30, 2005 at 08:57:32 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  You want business to do it (none)
        you have to give them incentives.

        Give them big tax breaks on new energy R&D. Give them 5 yr tax breaks on profits from AFFORDABLE alternative energy technologies, provided the profits don't fall outside a percentage cap. Give car manufacturers incentives to meet beefed up CAFE standards. Give them (and the buyers) a tax break or credit on fuel efficient trucks and SUVs.

        Give people in older houses a tax credit to replace their old furnaces and AC, and possibly old appliances like washers, refrigerators, hot water heaters, etc. And PUBLICIZE it. Right now, a lot of that stuff exists, but nobody knows about it.

        Make the stuff affordable, and give the companies a way to make more money on THAT than on what they sell now, and you'll have it tomorrow.

        And people will BUY them.

  •  And notice how your columns have (none)
    influenced my byline.

    Future Democratic presidential candidates: We NEED a sustainable ENERGY PLAN now!

    by lecsmith on Fri Sep 30, 2005 at 05:19:20 AM PDT

  •  Links to references please. (none)
    Can you provide links to your suggestions?

    "emission trading, Renewable Portfolio Standard, Home Improvement Credit Act [...]"

    I agree with your statement. But if you include the above options as solutions, I'd like to re-read or read what it is exactly before I put my voice behind it.


  •  Rebrand the (none)
    current energy policy from 'Bush/Cheney' to 'Republican'.  Every facet of this ongoing disaster should be branded Republican.

    Agree with adding the Saudis as suppliers.

    It's great to be a Republican these days - nobody expects you to be smart, competent or honest.

    by yellowdog52 on Fri Sep 30, 2005 at 06:17:47 AM PDT

    •  Support this (none)
      When you're the number one brand, you don't mention the competition.

      When you're the number two brand, you mention them as a lesser alternative.

      We surely have a number one brand in our ranks as far as leadership.  Nix the Bush/Cheney brand.

      We may be number two by demographics of the last election, but as Avis said, we try harder.

    •  Disagree on Bush/Cheney vs. Republican.. (none)
      because we should provide some 'safe mental ground' for moderates republicans and independents who wish to join this effort.  Republicans are not evil people and Republicanism is not an evil political party.  What has happened to the Republican party by the neocons and fundies is, indeed, criminal.  But I'd rather hand the rotting corpse off of the necks of Bush & Cheney, so as to drive an even bigger divide between them and 'responsible' republicans.  In other words, lets make this more about Americans and less about our political parties.  See my comment down thread for specific recommendations.

      Demand Energy Independence by 2025!

      by Doolittle Sothere on Fri Sep 30, 2005 at 06:36:59 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Shorter: (none)
        "McCain in '08!"
      •  Brand the Repugs as bad (none)
        This worked quite well for Reagan, the smiling idiot president, when he kept spouting off about how "Liberals" were responsible for all ills.

        Shift people away from the Repugs by pointing out how ALL Republicans have enabled Bush.  Even one of Maryland's best congress critters, Wayne Gilchrest, has enabled Bush by voting for DeLay and the other criminals who run the Republican party.

        Attack ALL Republicans- get moderate representatives like Wayne Gilchrest to go independent- take away the Repug power to corrupt.

      •  respectfully disagree (none)
        Linking this to Republican policy allows us to discuss our energy policy at all political levels. This is an issue that needs to be address not just by Presidential candidates but also by local and municiple gov't, state gov't, and congressional candidates.

        We must have dialogue, if it offends Republicans then so be it. Maybe they should change parties. We cannot base policy on whether a small group of die-hards take offence. If we do that then we are letting ourselves be ruled by fear and intimidation. Def not a Democratic OR Republican ideal.

        You is talking loco and I like it!

        by coconutjones on Fri Sep 30, 2005 at 07:00:16 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Make this a bipartisan issue (none)
        Energy planning should be seen as an obvious, middle-of-the-road thing that must be done.  Republicans are getting killed at the gas pump too.

        Like a hurricane, an energy crisis affects everyone in its path.

        There is plenty of blame to go around regarding a failure in the US to have a real energy plan for the people as opposed to political maneuvers and pork and repaying campaign supporters.

  •  Investments (4.00)
    Jerome, truly wonderful work you've started here, we are indebted to you.

    I would like to see something inserted in the "Diversification and Conservation" area that specifically mentions the desire to achieve these goals through highly targeted investments in R&D and production, as well as investments in education and training.

    I'd also like a stated goal of becoming a net exporter of alternative energy technology, should be part of our national security plan both in terms of reducing exposure to terrorism and reducing exposure to foreign debtors.  This interleaves with the prosperity and jobs component as well.

  •  Slightly OT but (4.00)
    the Five E's, should be the Democratic battle plan for 2006/08:

    1. Energy
    2. Economy
    3. Education
    4. Environment
    5. Equality

    Sounds more civilized than God, Guns and Gays doesn't it; )
  •  Telecommuting business incentives (none)
    $5,000 tax credit for every net increase in full time telecommuting positions, and $500 tax credit for every ongoing fulltime telecommuting position. Net loss in fulltime telecommuting positions charged against ongoing credit.

    Gas tax revised annually to make this revenue neutral.

    Personal income tax credit equivalent to gas tax on gas for ten mile daily commute at CAFE standard mileage, decreasing one mile annually.

    It could be worse. msaroff could still be living in Texas.

    by George on Fri Sep 30, 2005 at 06:25:28 AM PDT

    •  Add this to the plan! (none)
      That's a great idea, George.  In fact, that may be the single most effective short-term action that could be taken to reduce oil demand.  

      I've worked at a company that was so losely assembled that no two of us (outside the sales office) lived in the same state.  Each morning, we had a conference call, exchanged code, ran through issues lists, etc. -- and all that was in the days before the Internet.  Now it would be much easier to handle such a disjoint arrangement.

      In fact, I'll go farther: we've often talked in these energy discussions about how urban planning plays into energy costs and how the sad dislocation of people and offices puts us in a jam.  Rather than trying to address this problem by reengineering our transportation systems, which would take decades, or by reengineering our cities, which could take centuries, perhaps the best place to start is by reengineering our workspaces.

      TwoTaboos -- Politics and Religion.

      by Mark Sumner on Fri Sep 30, 2005 at 07:45:22 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Thanks for the endorsement (none)
        Telecommuting was going to be the future, but that was all forgotten when a bunch of dot coms with no products and no income imploded and Big Oil took the White House from the Big Dog.

        Where would we be right now if President Gore was allowed to take office?

        It could be worse. msaroff could still be living in Texas.

        by George on Fri Sep 30, 2005 at 08:11:05 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  There is a downside to telecommuting (none)
      Just about any job that can be done 10 miles away can also be done 10,000 miles away.

      A telecommuting tax credit would be an R&D tax credit for outsourcing technology development.

    •  A Comment and a Caution: (none)
      A comment and a caution about this plan:

      First, lets not make it all or nothing, but give a partial credit for part-time telecommute jobs. I work from home two days a week and go into work three a week. My employer had never done telecommuting before, but I negotiated this when I was offered the job. There are a lot of jobs that really can't be done full telecommute, but don't need to be 5-day commutes. We should give a partial credit for these jobs, don't make the employer's jump in all at once and they will be more likely to start down that path.

      Second, a caution. Not every job is telecommutable, and most of the ones that are are higher income / professional / white collar jobs. By increasing gasoline taxes to give money to the employers of telcommuters, you are basically taking this money from those who can't get telecommute jobs--  (manufacturing, warehouse work, labor,  construction, farmhands, etc.)They have to pay more money to get to work everyday so that their employers can pay the higher-wage employees not to come in. We need to be careful here.

      •  Two points (none)
        When I say full time job, I mean 40 hours of employment, not part of the week away from the office. I've done a lot of  detail on this plan on the nuance of what qualifies and partial this and that, but just wanted to hit the high points in this comment.

        As for part two, the increased gas tax is addressed by the personal tax credit. Over time, the white collar telecommute jobs leave the city and open up affordable housing close in. These workers have incentive to situate themselves close to their employment. In addition, the demand destruction for fuel will mean the fuel price is lower than it would be in other circumstances.

        It could be worse. msaroff could still be living in Texas.

        by George on Fri Sep 30, 2005 at 11:54:15 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  I would like to see (4.00)
    a greater emphasis placed on residential energy generation and conservation for two reasons. First, I think there's a huge need and market for small-scale energy production technologies that individuals and small businesses could use. Second, I think it would raise awareness about how important energy is to the global sociopolitical interactions and America's addiction to oil.

    Lead, follow, or get out of the way.

    by TerraByte on Fri Sep 30, 2005 at 06:27:56 AM PDT

  •  Great job! Recommendations follow.... (4.00)
    Meta issue 1: Partisanship

    I know we despise the current GOP leadership, but are Dems really going to step up to the plate and lead this?  I would rather state the lead objectively and not politically as "America Needs Reliable, Affordable and Sustainable Energy to Secure Our Future."  That way, any serious politician who believes in this effort can help move it forward.  I would hope it would be bold Dem leaders, but I don't care who it is as long as they seriously believe in the goals and the urgency.  In other words, let's talk more about the 'customer' and less about the 'company'.

    Meta Issue 2: Concision

    Still too many words for non-Kossacks, and order could be improved.  National Security should be priority #1 imho, in an attempt to build the 'burning platform' to force action.  My edited bullet points follow:

    1. Energy Security Equals National Security
    America imports 60% of the oil it consumes, largely from unfriendly or unstable countries, and our demand for oil continues to grow.  Our dependence on foreign oil keeps our economy vulnerable and threatens the security of the United States.  Oil and gas production is likely to peak in the near future, if it hasn't already, meaning that America will be increasingly competing with China, Russia and India for the decreasing supplies remaining.  As prices continue to rise, economic turmoil will result, and as supplies dwindle, nations will mobilize to protect their ways of life.  America must start defending its economic and national security interests now.

    2. The Bush/Cheney Energy Policy Weakens America
    President Bush's energy policy seriously weakens America strategically and economically, as it continues our reliance on imported oil and provides billions of dollars in wasteful subsidies to `Big Oil'.  Bush's original energy plan, crafted in secret by oil and gas lobbyists in 2000 under the direction of Vice President Cheney, resulted in rolling blackouts and rewarded criminal activity by companies such as Enron.  It is time to put the needs of the American people ahead of the needs of the oil and gas lobbyists.

    3. Energy Efficiency & Diversification are Critical to America's Future
    America must quickly move to diversify its energy sources to avoid catastrophe when any one source is interrupted, and we must become more efficient consumers of energy to make what we do have last longer.  Our plan calls for the rapid development of solar, wind, biomass and nuclear energies.  America is a country of unlimited potential and tremendous innovation, and our plan embraces our unique culture and capabilities. Our plan calls for significantly improving automotive fuel efficiency standards and expanding public transportation, along with providing incentives for families and companies to invest in energy-efficient solutions to reduce their energy costs.

    4. Renewable Energies Create New Jobs & Grow the Economy
    Our energy plan will focus on the deployment of renewable energy sources that are cost-effective and environmentally sound.  These American-made renewable solutions will create well-paying jobs and exportable products that will position America as the world's leader in renewable energy.  America's renewable energy solutions will once again provide a beacon of hope to a world looking for effective leadership.

    5. Our 'STAR' Energy Plan is Strategic, Targeted, Aggressive and Realistic (or some other simple acronym)
    Our goals are Strategic, Targeted, Aggressive and Realistic.  They are Strategic in that they greatly reduce our dependence on foreign oil and help make America more secure.  They are Targeted at developing renewable energy sources, improving energy efficiency and protecting our environment.  They are Aggressive because we need to begin to quickly move away from our dangerous dependence on foreign oil before it is too late.  They are Realistic because they are attainable, though they will require significant investment, sustained personal commitment and strong political leadership.  

    Our specific goals by 2020 are:

    -    20% of our electricity from renewable energies
    -    20% reduction of imported oil
    -    20% increase in our overall energy efficiency
    -    20% reduction in carbon emissions

    There you have it.  Hope this helps.  Please keep up the great work, Mr. Assistant Secretary of Energy under President Feingold!

    Demand Energy Independence by 2025!

    by Doolittle Sothere on Fri Sep 30, 2005 at 06:31:06 AM PDT

    •  Agree with edits (none)
      Brief is good - Jerome's original can be lengthened for the policy-makers. The shorter points you present are good for the masses (and campaign organizers, advertisers, etc.).

      Yellowdog52 and Rayne make a good point above about "branding" this as a Republican failure, not just a Bush/Cheney problem.  However, there is no getting around the fact that Point #2 is BushCo's alone.  It can be emphasized where needed with evidence of voting records which Republicans blindly supported everything they did, but the black mark of our current abysmal energy policy belongs to BushCo.

      Many possibilities are open to you - work a little harder.

      by Rainman on Fri Sep 30, 2005 at 06:41:41 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Bushco vs. the Culture of Corruption (none)
        Let me expand on the branding comment I made.

        Bushco couldn't arrive to power without the sustained generation long drive to achieve a majority in public office.  That majority was achieved via a Culture of Corruption, constructed by people like Karl Rove, Grover Norquist, Tom DeLay, Jack Abramoff, who believe that the ends justify the means and that winning is more important than the most needy among us.

        Republicans permitted it or aided and abetted it.  It's a party whose time has come and gone; its current iteration does not represent real American values.

        •  all Repubs aided culture of corruption (none)
          Exactly right, even the best of the Repug congress critters went along with the Hammer (DeLay) as he railroaded through the disastrous Bushite policies that have dragged our country down.
        •  so did Democrats... it a leadership issue (none)
          not a partisan issue.  yeah, I want almost all of the republicans to burn, but even Rep. Freedom Fries can come around to see the light.  by making it overtly 'republican failure', you're making it strictly partisan -- even if it is true, which it's not completely.  

          Democrats, as well as the American public, have also been largely absent from the debate, and nearly everyone has had an increasingly voracious personal energy habit most of their lives.  We all share in the responsibility of solving the problem.

          Let's make it a leadership issue first and foremost.  Let's take and keep the high ground by offering solid solutions to real problems.  That's why Hackett did as well as he did in OH.  Americans are yearning for leadership on this issue, not 'democrats who aren't republicans.'

          Demand Energy Independence by 2025!

          by Doolittle Sothere on Fri Sep 30, 2005 at 09:52:03 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Dem policy should be addressing (none)
    the root problems of a conmonopolistic/manipulative/non-competative behavior in the present privatized  (producer-refiner-distributor) energy sector, controlled in this country by a few huge interlocking vertically-integrated corporations, that are powerful enough to control the govermnent itself.

    Good article in Village Voice

    Any Profit in a Storm: Stormy weather allows big oil to practice a crude sort of blackmail

    U.S. oil companies have bitterly assailed environmentalists for blocking construction of new refineries, but as reported last week in Mondo, environmental approvals were obtained for a new refinery in Arizona. The industry press has been quoting the CEO of the Arizona company as saying environmental rules did not block the project. More to the point, the big oil companies are looking to add refining capacity abroad. They see a surplus of gasoline in Western Europe, which is using more and more diesel for transportation, and in the Middle East--such places as Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. The Europeans have already said they are prepared to ship us more gasoline if need be. Over the short term, these sources of supply should prevent shortages in the U.S.  

    The rising price of gasoline may turn out to have little to do with the hurricanes. "Profit margins for U.S. oil refiners have been at record highs,"

    Tyson Slocum, the research director of Public Citizen's energy program, testified last week before the Senate Commerce Committee. "In 1999, U.S. oil refiners made 22.8 cents for every gallon of gasoline refined from crude oil. By 2004, they were making 40.8 cents for every gallon of gasoline refined, a 79 percent jump. It is no coincidence that oil corporation profits--including refining--are enjoying record highs." Over the past four years ExxonMobil, ChevronTexaco, ConocoPhillips, Shell, and BP, the five oil giants operating in the U.S., have racked up $254 billion in profits.

    Bottom-line questions remain: Since the Texas-Louisiana coasts are our soft industrial underbelly, open to devastation by natural disasters and terrorists, why hasn't the government taken steps to break up the concentration of refineries there? Moreover, the Europeans have a reserve of gasoline. Why don't we have the same thing?

    And the kicker:

    There is no free market in oil and gas. It is a business dominated by a handful of companies that have managed to regulate themselves through various joint ventures and other deals. During the 20th century they worked openly through cartels, theoretically against the law in the U.S. When times got rough, they persuaded the government to apply various forms of regulation, such as oil depletion allowance, low or nonexistent royalties for oil produced in the public domain on the outer continental shelf. If the situation gets out of hand, there will doubtless be a call for price controls to help the industry keep its head above water, while its executives laugh all the way to the bank.
  •  The Energy Dollar (4.00)
    The time has come to realize that the future of energy policy is integrating an attack on three huge problems:

    1. Affluence problem

    The first huge problem we have is one of simple multiplication: there are 6 billion people on the planet. Take how much energy it takes to keep them in an affluent lifestyle, multiply, and that is our energy needs. This problem means that energy supply alone is so woefully far away from solving the problem as to be worthless. The size of this problem shows that conservation cannot do the job. The only way to solve this problem is to dramatically restructure what an affluent life looks like, as well as both increasing energy supply and reducing energy demand.

    2. The money problem

    Money and currency are about information. Currency is about the exchange of information, which is why the amount of currency is tied to the amount of energy - energy is what drives the transactions that currency measures.

    Money is not a measure of information, it is a measure of entropy. Or more specifically, it is the estimate of the least amount of money it would take to rebuild the society as it is to us. That is, not rebuilding what we don't care about, and rebuilding what we do care about quickly.

    It is not possible, even in principle, to know what the real minimum replacement algorythm is, it is only possible to estimate it. Currently, the way we have money structured is not making a good estimate of the entropy of the whole economy.

    Which is why people who run corrupt construction companies are Vice-Presidents, and inside traders and money launderers are in the congressional leadership.

    3. The community problem

    This problem is really at the point of the other two. The current cheap energy/labor arbitrage world is obliterating communities as fast as it can - both here and elsewhere. The alienation from society which consumerism solved by a flood of entertainment and commodities, is no longer soluble by that means. Simply put, there is too little opium for the masses to keep it working for much longer.

    These three problems must be solved by forming a triangle - this means, setting the energy bandwidth of society as the currency bandwidth, which has been done in an ad hoc way, with lots of room for cheating. Doing this would allow taxation on petrodollars and other forms of sunk rent - that is, where the money is - and transfering this to the project of changing the energy system. In short, tax the people who have benefited most from the petro-economy, to build the sustainable economy.

    Instead of numerical goals, the targets should be restructuring of society, which lead to longer term hard goals. These longer term hard goals are that it be sustainable, scaleable, and accessible.

    Sustainable means that it is non-extractive: carbon neutral among other things. Sustainable also means that it not dump the burden on potable water that it takes out of petroleum. We aren't building more dams for a reason, and field-to-fuel doesn't work because of the water and soil it consumes.

    Scaleable means that it is capital based, rather than extraction based. Wind, solar, nuclear, hydro, biomass all are, within certain limits, scaleable. To build a scaleable system requires moving to a five phase energy system, and looking at each component correctly. Hydrogen isn't a fuel source, it is a storage and transport mechanism. It fits in with the energy system as an amplifier, not in its pure form as a transport or generation mechanism. We should simply envision a world of hydrogen trucks rolling around the world.

    Accessible means that it is largely point of use driven, whether large or small, rather than top down driven. Even if blasting kerogen out of rocks turns out to be equal to wind turbines and fusion, the latter is better, since it does not localize extraction.


    Doing this requires three components:

    1. In the US, A national sustainability drive.

    2. The creation of a neo-Bretton Woods monetary order based on energy bandwidth. Basically, link how much money can be printed to the energy bandwidth of the society, with adjustments for sink problems.

    3. The alteration of a top down rent universe, with a bottom up labor universe as a counter order - to an into the center and out again spherical universe. This requires an overhaul of public revenue, intellectual capital and trade laws.

    A huge project? Yes, a generations worth. But it will be easier shortly as the pyramid hits a big bump downwards in its efficiency.
    •  Holy toad, what an understatement! (4.00)
      You're absolutely right, Stirling, but you've just outlined a complete cultural overhaul.

      We're talking about the kind of change that will take a couple of generations to fully implement, let alone fully realize returns.

      Look at the conversion to Euro denomination and how long it's taken, let alone shifting the entire fundamental valuation of all money from labor to energy.

      Guess we start now, though.  Already indoctrinating my kids every day about the changes ahead.

  •  Great ideas, Jerome (none)
    And now, dear Kossacks, here's something you can do about it this very minute. Find out when the next meeting of your city council or local planning commission is. Attend it and check out the kinds of developments they're approving. Ask yourself, are they mixed-use? Are they walkable? Are they accessible to quality mass transit? If not, do something. Look at your local subdivision regulations. Do they require sidewalks and bike lanes* and narrow streets that slow cars? Do they encourage infill development over sprawl? If not, call the mayor's office or the engineering department and ask why not. Better yet, ask how you can get involved in changing them.

    We're building communities today that will be around for decades to come, and whether those communities will continue to function once the oil runs out is up to all of us today, this very moment.

    *I realize that bike lanes are controversial to some cyclists who would prefer wide outside lanes rather than a marked bike lane, but narrow auto lanes are essential for traffic calming and pedestrian safety, so bike lanes are a necessary trade-off, in the opinion of this cyclist.

  •  Thanks (none)
    If I wasn't working right now, I'd try to add more substance to this diary, but instead I just have to say this:

    I learn more from Jerome's energy diaries and the discussions than generate than I did in all of grad school.

  •  A minor change... (4.00)
    First, I really like the work you've done over the last few months to bring the energy topics to the forefront.

    My only suggestion is one of framing. To a lot of people the term conservation implies going without. Of course, I don't believe that, but I've found that a much stronger argument can be made using the term "energy efficient" approach.

    I believe that our energy problems, like our healthcare and environmental problems, should be discussed from a "make these changes to reduce your costs!" point of view. For example, businesses in the northeast will be paying boat loads of cash to heat their buildings this winter. If those companies invested in solar heating (this could be passive or active solar) and sky lights on the roofs of their warehouses, they could likely save money. Their conserving their resources by making their infrastructure more energy efficient.

    The nice thing about this strategy is that the argument is constructed in a way that makes it easy to talk to business leaders. Mathematically, efficiency is easy to define: energy out divided by energy in or for the business leaders out there, profit over income - expenses.

    So, my suggestion is that we stick to our ideals, but tweak the wording to make the concepts more approachable for the me, me, me members of the business world.

    •  What about (none)
      instead of 'Conservation' we used the term 'elimination of waste'.

      I understand what you are saying.  This could possibly be better.  However with an FDR style of leadership speech, conservation could work.  The sacrifice for the common good in the short term to avoid the destruction of ourselves in the long term.

      •  Waste reduction (none)
        A certain Fortune 100 company has a long-standing program called WRAP -- "Waste Reduction Always Pays".  In economic downturns or troughs of cycle, WRAP programs were often the difference between losing money and break-even.

        Certainly could work on a national scale if it can work for a Fortune 100 company.

    •  yes! (4.00)
      My father is a builder and runs into this a lot. Clients want to buy cheaper windows, maybe crank back a few R-values on the insulation, etc., without thinking about the longterm impacts those choices will have on their energy bills.
      These are primarily SECOND homes my father is building - so no one jump my shit for ignoring people who may not be able to afford the better quality windows, etc.  By the logic presented in Jeff's comments - none of us can afford not to conserve and build more intelligently.  You can pay for it now, or continue to pay for it later.  Lastly, since I'm generalizing like crazy anyway, if you're borrowing a chunk to build a house, build a smaller one and build it better.
      See this one for Not So Big Houses or for the very adventurous, this one for starters.

      Many possibilities are open to you - work a little harder.

      by Rainman on Fri Sep 30, 2005 at 06:49:53 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Thanks for the great links! (none)
        I want the tiny one with solar panels and screened porch all around for more space. My beautiful Ozarks are getting all uglied up with McMansions, built mostly by retired couples providing housing for two. Part of the Ozarks culture is "sufficiency," not gross overconsumption. They don't get it.

        It is better to die standing than to live on your knees. - Emiliano Zapata

        by cotterperson on Fri Sep 30, 2005 at 09:05:10 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Those tiny ones are TINY! (none)
          Even by my standards! I find some of the Not So Big Houses to be pretty big, too. Guess that's why the movement is not called the Small Houses, but is instead just Not So Big. Where's that Small But Not Too Small House movement?

          My parents live in a small (24-x-36 ft) house they built themselves, and when their clients see it they can't believe that we pack nearly a dozen people in there for holidays. The clients are usually quite wealthy and are building multi-thousand sq-ft McMansions for two people. Oh well.

          Many possibilities are open to you - work a little harder.

          by Rainman on Fri Sep 30, 2005 at 10:46:54 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  microhouses (none)

        This is straying off the energy policy subject a bit. A Mother Earth News Microhouse article was oriented towards homelessness and elder care. It is an idea I have been thinking about for some time but more oriented towards avoiding mortgage traps, efficiency, etc. than in skating under the building code/zoning radar.

        Small efficient house designs cut resource usage in many ways. Less heating/cooling. Less materials. No need to duplicate TV, stereo, clocks, etc. across rooms. I envision some improvements.

        • Avoid slum stigma in various ways. One is alternate energy. One is better construction. Humorous names: "shakin' up", "cabin fever", etc. Gardens.
        • Scalability - Ability to remove walls and expand. Make it a starter house. One place to start is make the roof slope in one direction only so you can stack units back to back without drainage issues. Ridges along edge of roof bolt together (covered with flashing). There was a psychology experiment studying the effect of cramped cages on animals. They had a button the animals could press to make the cage larger and it would slowly shrink between presses; this measured the amount of space needed before there was distress. Reasons to scale upward: children, home office, craft/hobby space, etc.
        • Emphasis on effective use of space without sacrificing modern conveniences. Single drum combo washer/dryer, compact dishwasher, etc. Use rafter space for storage. Hooks and eyebolts for hanging things like pots, exercise attachment points, etc. Computer replaces TV, DVD, VCR, Stereo, fax, clock radio, etc. Folding tables and chairs. Futons and lofts.
        • Start larger. Either two units or a 2x larger base unit. Many conservation methods take up some space. Conserving grocery trips, for example, with adequate food storage. Start with double thickness walls for insulation.
        • Use screws instead of nails, and threaded rod holding roof to floor/foundation, etc. to make very strong for hurricane resistance and crane liftability.
        • Improved heating/cooling design.

    •  I understand your point of view ... (none)
      ...on this, and many people make the same point. I wish we could come up with a word that combines "conservation" and "energy efficiency" without using either.

      Thirty-one million new blogs are created each year. Try ours at The Next Hurrah.

      by Meteor Blades on Fri Sep 30, 2005 at 09:25:54 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Keep it up, Jerome! (none)
    I'm off for the weekend and I'm sure by the time I'm back this will be long forgotten.  But please keep posting these great diaries.  We need to keep energy policy front-and-center.

    "Strength and wisdom are not opposing values" - Bill Clinton.

    by RAST on Fri Sep 30, 2005 at 06:44:19 AM PDT

  •  Slight reworking of what you have (none)

    Democrats have a plan to provide reliable and sustainable energy for all Americans

    • Energy is a national security issue. America deserves a comprehensive policy and strong leadership
    • The Republican policy supporting the oil & gas industry is ruining America
    • Diversification and conservation must be encouraged for the long term
    • We need measurable goals for success
    • A smart energy policy will create jobs, prosperity and long term security.

    Just reordered and changed a few things.
    (by point)
    I thought the previous order was burying the lead point.  
    Linking the republicans to the oil & gas industry which are pretty unpopular sounds good.
    Added 'for the long term'.  We need to try and make sure the message is long term so we don't run the risk of another Reagan killing it all.
    I added 'for success'.  It puts a postive on the end of the sentence.  Quite posibily could be reworded to be better.
    Added 'security' onto the last point.  It ties it back in with the first point.

    •  Re: Slight reworking of what you have (none)
      This is very good -- no, it's great.  It's the basis for a frame for energy that can be used to shape discourse -- in a positive way. Energy and infrastructure are basic elements that define security.  Pretty much all other security issues follow from them.

      Two minor suggestions:

      Add "coal" to bullet point two.

      Change bullet point four to suggest a specific measureable goal. Suggest "Reduce imports of foreign oil by X% by 2010, and Y% by 2020."

      Take the last item with a grain of salt.  Metrics are great for bureaucrats and policy wonks (like me).  But they don't really get most people excited.

      Good work to all.

    •  Nice wording- points are stronger (none)
      I like your reworking.  There should be three levels of this policy that are widely distributed:

      Branding:  ten words or less for the overall brand

      Democratic plan will provide reliable and sustainable energy for all Americans

      message:  four or five  bullet points

       the emphasis on security is good

      #  America deserves a comprehensive energy policy that will ensure our security

      # The Republican giveaways to the oil & gas industry are ruining America

      # Conservation and energy efficiency save Americans money

      # A smart and innovative energy policy will create jobs and long term security.

      details:  more refined but still just paragraphs, writing too much just gives the naysayers more to pick on.

      Jerome, will you pursue this and put out another diary tomorrow or Monday with these ideas that have been refined here?

      •  yes, of course (none)
        that's my intention.

        Get all the good ideas, like yours, and bring it up again, and then start filling up the more detailed policy proposals.

        Metero Blades and Devilstower will join with their own diaries so this will be a sustained effort. (I hope)

        And then it needs to go out. Big.

        European Tribune - bringing dKos to Europe
        in the long run, we're all dead (Keynes)

        by Jerome a Paris on Fri Sep 30, 2005 at 08:15:36 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Market Incentives (4.00)
    Right now the market is heavily slanted toward oil products and therefore is not delivering many other choices to individual consumers in many areas of the country.  This summer I was shopping around for a residential heat pump and looking into residential fuel cells.  Although the technology now exists to heat houses completely from heat pumps in cold climates (I live in Maine) I could not find any contractor quallified to install one of them.  But they are widely used in northern Europe, and since they run on electricity they can be completely "green," depending on how the power is generated.  Residential fuel cells can be purchased in Japan and Canada, but not here.
    Similarly, while biodiesel is on the market for home heating and as auto fuel, there is no company in my area that offers it for sale nor E85 (85% alcohol/15%gasoline) available here.

    One effective way of working towards these goals would be to remove various forms of oil subsidies (including royalties and leases for government land below the global market prices)and providing tax incentives and subsidies to get the alternatives to market.  Then the force of the market could help achieve the goals.

  •  Invisible King Coal (4.00)
    Coal produces more than half the electricity in the country, far more than any other source, and yet it's nearly invisible to the consumer.  Almost no one has a coal furnace at their home, or a coal stove.  No one tanks up their car on coal.  

    Because it's insulated behind a hundred miles of electric line, people tend to ignore it, except to complain of the CO2 and acid rain burning coal produces.  Indirectly, coal is responsible for everything from mercury in our tuna to the increase of hurricanes in the Gulf.  There's often an impression that we should "phase out coal."  Stop building new coal burning plants.  Stop mining coal.

    That's not going to happen.  Not now, and probably not in this century.

    Coal is cheap, available, and domestic.  The United States is the "Saudi Arabia of Coal."  No political party is going to have the will power to shut off the tap on the most readily available energy source.  And it's not even clear that they should.

    First off, we need the power.  This is especially true if we mean to cut use of oil.  Moving from oil means, directly or indirectly, moving more of the transportation fleet to the grid.  That will mean a sharp rise in demand for electricity, and coal may be the only way we can meet that demand.  Already, the number of new power plants under construction is daunting, and that's just to meet the projected 2% annual growth in electrical demand sans a major shift in transportation.

    If trading oil for coal sounds like a loser, consider this: new coal powered plants are vastly cleaner than older plants.  Cleaner by several orders of magnitude.   And while these plants don't yet have a way to sequester carbon, this problem is much easier to address at a few dozen fixed facilities than it is with a hundred million roving CO2 sources.

    Coal is going nowhere.  With increased efforts to convert coal into oil and gas, I would no be surprised if our net dependence on coal was not higher in 2020 than it is now -- even if we meet the demand for more clean, renewable sources.

    So how do we produce energy from coal without making the world our slag heap?  Through reasonable restrictions:

    1)    Reinstitute the Clean Air Act.  Repeal Bush's "Clear Skies" policy that allows older, high pollution plants to expand and pollute even more.
    2)    Outlaw contour stripping and mountain-top removal operations that are reducing the mountains of the east to rubble.
    3)    Add a next phase to the Clean Air Act that continues to tighten controls as the existing law has (or would have, barring Bush's exemptions) over the last 20 years.

    You'll notice I don't have a lot of carrots for the industry in there.  It's all sticks.  Reason?  They don't need any carrots.  Here, take a look at this chart.

    See that red line?  That's ExxonMobil, the most profitable company in the world.  See the blue line?  That's Peabody Energy, the US (and world's) largest coal company.  

    Does it look like these guys are doing okay?

    •  Internalize the Externalities in Price... (none)
      Incorporate the environmental costs of procurement and use into the price of fossil fuels.... Simple...

      Now, how to determine what these costs are truly... Not so simple...


      Maryland School of Public Policy Master of Public Policy Candidate

      by magicrusslc on Fri Sep 30, 2005 at 07:11:03 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  BTU? (none)
      Their ticker code is actually BTU? That's pretty cheeky!

      All that you say about coal is spot on. That's basically the more detailed page that would be linked to my sentence about "coal (with tightened emission rules)"...

      European Tribune - bringing dKos to Europe
      in the long run, we're all dead (Keynes)

      by Jerome a Paris on Fri Sep 30, 2005 at 07:22:19 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Energy companies look for short term profits (none)
      And ignore the costs to our health.  They could easily use some of those huge profits to fit the best available mercury emissions reducing technology on their power plants.  Why have they not?  

      Because they are run by Bushite scum type crony capitalists who just don't give a damn about the environment.  But they will if they are properly taxed to reflect their environmental impact.

      Our local energy conglomerate, Constellation Energy, is giving money ($100,000 or so) to a local environmental group to plant trees, while they continue to pollute our air and water with their mercury-spewing "old" coal plants.  These folks are really corrupt, they will keep raking in huge profits and polluting the world as long as the crony capitalist Repugs and their feeble Dem co-conspirators practice the business as usual exchange of weak laws for campaign cash.

    •  Wait a minute. If 'coal is going nowhere' (none)
      why is Peabody's stock going up so fast? Irational exuberance?  Is this meant to be snark?

      Another question: Are new 'clean-burning' coal powerplants now routinely installing mercury mitigation scrubbers  to grab the mercury before it goes up the stacks?

      •  Poor wording (none)
        I meant "going nowhere" as in "not going away" rather than "not doing well."

        As to the mercury question, the answer it "generally, yes."  Though it's more proportional to the public pressure that's been mounted against a specific plant than regulations.

        For example, Peabody is itself building some power plants (a first for them).  Their "Prairie State" plant includes (according to the public documents):

            * Nitrogen oxide controls
            * Selective catalytic reduction
            * Dry electrostatic precipitators
            * Sulfur dioxide scrubbers
            * Wet electrostatic precipitators

        Several of these, particularly the SCR will reduce mercury.  But while Peabody has been anxious to publish the SO2 and NO levels ("lowest ever"), I've yet to see any predictions on mercury.

        TwoTaboos -- Politics and Religion.

        by Mark Sumner on Fri Sep 30, 2005 at 08:03:43 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Coal's problem (none)
          It takes petroleum to mine it, and the "low hanging fruit" has already been picked.

          Becoming and Energy Sink, because it takes more energy to produce than it returns.

          •  Not going to happen (none)
            For a long, long time.

            Far from the "low hanging fruit" being gone, we're actually mining at a lower average overburden ratio than ever before.  Most of the coal mined now has less than a 2:1 overburden ratio (that's the amount of material removed to get at the coal / the amount of coal) where only a couple of decades ago that average was close to 10:1.  

            We used to remove 200' in Kentucky or Illinois to get to a 5' seam.  Now we remove 100' in Wyoming and get 100' of coal in return.

            As for oil use, many large mines run thier shovels, trucks, and draglines on electricity (you want to see a power cord, look at the one that powers a 15-story dragline!).  Many mines do still run their truck fleet on diesel (actually, diesel / electric hybrids), but some of those are changing over.

            About the only big oil consumption in coal mining is in "ANFO."  The cheap blast generated from the fertilizer-diesel mix is what makes surface mining possible.  Increases in the price of this material is one thing that's now driving up the price of coal, but mines are passing that cost right along (see the chart above as an indicator of just how healthy the industry is at the moment).

            TwoTaboos -- Politics and Religion.

            by Mark Sumner on Fri Sep 30, 2005 at 09:42:01 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  What are inhibitions against (none)
              Peabody going for coal gasification/synfuels production in a big way?
              •  It's in the works (none)
                The latest analysis I've seen suggests that the actual cost of production is <$40, but the initial investment in the plant is quite high (even with tax breaks).

                Two things have to happen:

                1. the industry has to become convinced that oil will remain above the $55-60 level for the forseeable future.

                2. they need to line up distribution and /or refinery deals depending on the process they choose.

                A couple of plants have been announced already, but so far as I know, none have moved past collecting permits and doing site planning.

                TwoTaboos -- Politics and Religion.

                by Mark Sumner on Fri Sep 30, 2005 at 11:20:22 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  What do you think? (none)
                  Since these things cost multi-billions and take 6-7 years to build do you think they will spring for them even if oil stays above $60?
                •  Reason coal left behind by oil (none)
                  Oil's many advantages provide 1.3 to 2.45 times more economic value per kilocalorie than coal. [[9]]


                  Almost twice as much coal must be burned to achieve the same eco value.

                  More must be pulled from the ground, transported and after burning, more waste must be disposed of.

                  In order to service more people. While scarce HC(Hydrocarbons) products must be used to deliver in 50% of the coal cycle.

                  Energy sink.

            •  The fertilizer diesel mix (none)
              Just add lukewarm water and wait for the explosion.

              I suppose this is what ANFO means.  Perfectly obvious. Harness the energy release.

              Problem.  Fertilizer is notbeing made in the US these days.  And when it is acquired, what is the more important use, increasing corn yield per acre by 50 bu. or mining a ton of coal.

              Diesel is a distillate that will have to be sacrificed now to make enough gasoline for commuter transport.

              Decisions, decisions.  And don't think China hasn't been doing coal. And also not worrying about clean coal or New England either.

              Here.  "All kinds of coal mines are almost operating at full capacity, or beyond capacity, and the pressure on safety is huge," it said.

              If people are living like feed cattle, what's the point?

          •  Not an expert (none)
            but I don't think that's correct. I believe a lot of the gigantic strip mine equipment is electric (I'm almost positive the gargantuan trucks are), not diesel, and I know of hard rock mines that were run totally on hydro-electric and pneumatic equipment.

            At any rate, I don't believe coal has to rely on petro for mining - it's probably more an economic choice if that's currently the case.

            We all go a little mad sometimes - Norman Bates

            by badger on Fri Sep 30, 2005 at 10:19:47 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  coal is not going away soon, sadly (none)
      I work in environmental air permitting and with the recent spike in nat. gas prices, facilities are requesting proposals to install new coal boilers to replace the natural gas units installed in the 90s. Facilities are also opting to shutdown on-site cogeneration in favor of grid power.
  •  An "Agency" ? (none)
    While it seems to me that this first "batch" states rightly about the obvious, the latest hurricane developments has shown that:

    a/ Most people are "poorer" then thought...
    b/The buildings as housings are still considered as disposables and built accordingly...
    c/The urban Master plan are still designed with the Downtown vs Suburbia scheme...
    d/ Confidence in Federal or State driven Agencies is very low...

    a- Most of the efforts in energy saving will equal to spending more on new appliances, or retro-fitting old cars, insulating houses, getting natural cooling schemes instead of those AC, etc...
    Most people just can't afford those changes, even when they are willing to do do! Help by funding such changes should be expected, or income tax incitement, or it wouldn't be done, until much too late!

    b-While there is the "price bubble" on housing, most of those houses (not only the low income ones) are wood built (cf. the logging problems on landscape) and very badly insulated, whether for cold or for heat ! We are still in the "three little pigs" story, and regulating house temperature goes with a high demand on energy! An infra-red survey would be hair rising!

    c- Commuting is still a national sport! The residential areas density is less then the old EU rural village! Those sprawling distances are not only indulging car use, but power lines, water pipes, sewage, roads, etc... In a time when drought will be more frequent in some states.

    d- Most of those propositions can only be followed by an "Agency", but after these last years, most will have no confidence in such overall structure. Most "eco-friendly" people don't like the idea of an "eco-police"! And special funding will be seen as preposterous, when medicare help doesn't cover each individual!
    This country believes in small communities with a rejection of sate (most of the time), it's an historical "feature"! But the "war for energy" cannot be done without an overall viewpoint at state level... This should be addressed on the long term by education, in schools as in offices... But of course it goes against any "intelligent design" theory in which Nature was given to Man to do as he pleases...!

    What is seldom covered here (or elsewhere) is the industrial processes of most material we use. Funding research in such parts is a no loss program, as by saving energy in the process, the industry will make things cheaper in the mean term having more clients because of an "clean air" (or "green") label.
    I don't mind grabbing the Moon or Mars, because it promote research anyhow. New research goals, new materials, a better energy deal in the long run.

    America has the reputation of being a country where research is well done and attracts most of the world scientists. Lately, this has been less true (Japan, India, EU.). Boosting research should be one of the important points of the "New Deal"...!

    My two cents...!

    /"What can I do, What can I write, Against the fall of Night" A.E. Housman/

    by Margouillat on Fri Sep 30, 2005 at 07:00:11 AM PDT

    •  Counter (none)
      a. Insulation is cheap. Most people have the minor skills required to install more attic insulation on their own. Most people also can easily use a caulking gun.

      b. Wood for building can be sustainably harvested, and pound-for-pound is stronger than steel. It's also a better insulator that steel or masonry. Current building codes require good insulation. Where construction standards are lax, tighter code enforcement can easily fix them.

      c. The original impetus to commuting was the 19th century belief that living in sight of nature was psychologically healthier than living in, say, most of the Bronx. It's because of growing up in the rural edge of suburbia (yeah, hated it) that I became a convinced environmentalist. My dad, who grew up in the Bronx, has little sympathy for this stance.

      •  Exactly (none)
        And in Germany some energy companies and some environment groups have a service. You can hire at reduced prices an energy consultant through them.

        That consultant will look at your house, take some infrared pictures and discusss with you the different possibilities to save energy.
        Say, better insulation for your house, weak spots in the insulation, better windows, new heating etc.

        Kind of like a list.
        Telling you for example that you´re losing x% of the heat through the roof, y% through the windows ...
        And giving you advise how to get the biggest savings with the money (and state subventions) available.

        This President believes government should be limited not in size, Jon, but in effectiveness.

        by Detlef on Fri Sep 30, 2005 at 07:44:52 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Conservation saves money quickly (none)
        And the payoff will be even faster as energy prices double in the next year.

        Build smaller and smarter to use less energy.  Let families experience sustainable living in designated eco-vacation homes so that they can see how to conserve.  It really is not all that hard, I see many local people driving huge SUVs with one or two passengers, for $3.00/gal gas:

        SUV cost:   $30K,  15 mpg, $.20/ mile

        Prius cost:  $23K,  55 mpg,  $.055/mile

        So just this simple choice can reduce energy use by 73%,and put $7K in the bank to start, then $600 per year or more savings.

        These are not hypothetical numbers, I have these two vehicles and fortunately don't have to drive the truck very much.

        •  Better yet, go diesel/diesel hybrid like the Euros (none)
          do and save even more energy.

          Now, if we can just get the US Majors off their  greedy fat asses to start refining clean (desulfurized) diesel fuel like the rest of the civilized world has been doing for the last couple of decades ("Waaa! It is too expensive  and still under research   in the US", the Majors cry out. "Give us a break!")).

          And our Corrupt Congress obediently responds and gives them another subsidy and a more tax breaks, to help them scrape by with that $260 Billion in net profits they have raked in since 2000.

      •  Right ! (none)
        a-Insulation is cheap... I agree,  but I still wonder at those heating or cooling bills! Construction standards are just what they are .. Standards! They can be fixed and that the purpose of all these comments!

        b- I would vote on wood against steel anytime! Er...I haven't yet seen some proper planting/harvesting scheme following the increasing demand for housing ??? (not only in the USA!). There are other materials and/or techniques that could be more widespread!

        C- Yes... The belief is still there! But city dwellers have been environmentalists for several thousand years (well, sort of!)... Till the 18th and 19th centuries utopias...! (A good example, among many others, is the design of Venice, Italy, where the building bordered piazzas gets rain water in the filtered central well, while sitting on brackish waters!)

        Thanks' for commenting ! (nice to see someone read one's lines, even if it's not in agreement!)

        "What can I do, What can I write, Against the fall of Night" A.E. Housman

        by Margouillat on Fri Sep 30, 2005 at 08:18:21 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Strategic Petroleum Reserve damaged? (none)
    Does anyone know about the extent of the damage to the Strategic Petroleum Reserve from Rita? I noticed one line in a Guardian article that stated that the Big Hill site was damaged (not extensively) and that West Hockberry could not be assessed because of flooding.

    There is very little cover of the mechanics of the SPR in the U.S. Maybe the foreign press has more?

    Just in case you don't know, all four storage sites for the Strategic Petroleum Reserve are near the Gulf Coast in Texas and Louisiana.  The oil should be secure: It's located 2000-4000 ft below the surface in artificial caverns created in Salt Domes.  However, the infrastructure on the surface seems like it could be threatened by Hurricanes.

    The sites were chosen because they are close to existing pipelines, refineries, and other private infrastructure, making them more cost-effective than a more dispersed approach, a so-called regional petroleum reserve (RPR), which was called for in the same law that created the SPR.

    The Department of Energy is taking comments and holding hearings on where to add a fifth site, but they seem stuck on the idea of another saltdome in Texas or Louisiana.

    If these two sites were damaged, it may show that putting all of our reserve oil "eggs" in the Gulf Coast "basket" may not be the approach that offers the more security against supply disruptions.  Not to mention our refinery shortage issue...

    By the way, don't take this to mean I support oil.  However, until we seriously develop other energy sources, it is THE game.  


    Maryland School of Public Policy Master of Public Policy Candidate

    by magicrusslc on Fri Sep 30, 2005 at 07:07:57 AM PDT

  •  Focus on Corporations and provide an Alternative (none)
    I believe a huge chunk of the problem is inordinate amount of influence, power, and attention that Big Corporations get.  This is not a rant against capitalism, but against Crony Capitalism.  We are seeing its pernicious effect on all the corruption that has been bought and paid for.

    I believe a KEY plank in the Democratic platform should be a focus on small business.  Small business is the true engine of jobs and innovation.  While British Petroleum is spending a portion of its windfall profits making advertisements about alternative energy, it is the small companies that are actually making it happen.  A comprehensive Democratic energy plan that takes the focus off of big oil companies and large monopolistic power companies and puts it squarely on startup entrepreneurs, small community-based sustainable grids, and other bottom up solutions is the answer.  It allows us to attack the lobbyists and corporations (that are in the pocket of Republicans anyway) and focus on empowering individuals and local organizations.

  •  Kos Community Sponsorship of Message testing? (none)
    Here's a question, how many times do our educated bloggers post platforms or "message packages" that the "Democrats" should use.

    This one seems great, I sure like it, but ultimately what does that mean?  Answer - absolutely nothing.  

    Its time to take this thing to the next level.  We should develop systems to nominate issues eligible for platforms.  Sponsor contests to identify the best issues and slogans (all of this is free of course - Kos bloggers need no paid incentive to vote), and then use our donations to pay for scientific testing of the messages.

    In this way, we will truly control the message.  Think of it, how much more effective would it be to go to have scientifically tested lines and understand which messages inspire people and which ones leave people flat.  What could we then do with these results?

    • We could offer them to the democratic party to use however they want.

    • Or more interestingly, we could offer them to "our" candidates, i.e. the people we like (the Kos Dozen, Paul Hackett, Jeff Seaman, etc), to use strategically both in primaries against less progressive dems, and in general election campaigns.

    Further, by pooling money and hiring researchers to do work on our issues, we would then become a customer - we would have the power to reward consulting firms we think are doing innovative work, develop our own class of consultants, etc.  

    In short, we should stop merely posting ideas about messages, and work to actually create a sophiticated message operation.


    My President fought a war on terror and all New Orleans got was this lousy levee. - me.

    by dbratl on Fri Sep 30, 2005 at 07:09:04 AM PDT

    •  Taking the Next Step (4.00)
      I've thought about this for some time.  Here are a couple of proposals that would apply to energy, and may be adaptable for other issues:

      2020 Vision Pledge
      Present Democratic candidates with the goals laid out here (including the 20% renewables by 2020, etc.) and secure from them a "pledge" not only to support these positions, but to author legislation.  think of this as a "Contract with America" on energy.  These Democratic candidates not only have a plan, they have a promise to meet these goals.  It would then be easy to post the list of candidates who had pledged to support the plan and solicit funds.

      The Grassroots Platform
      Taking it further, it would be very interesting to tear apart the existing platform, submit it to broad discussion on kos and elsewhere, and reassemble the result with statements that reflect the thoughts and ideas of the grassroots, rather than the insiders gathered at the convention.  While there may be an expectation that such a document would be too extreme to be implemented, I suspect we'd find it more moderate in many areas than the existing nation platform, and actually more reflective of Democratic voters nationwide.     There would, of course, need to be at least a little formal structure around putting this together.

      TwoTaboos -- Politics and Religion.

      by Mark Sumner on Fri Sep 30, 2005 at 07:26:01 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Thanks for commenting . . . (none)
        I think maybe the next thing to do is organize a comittee to work on this (with this being the message).  

        • the big issue is to thing about how to elevate attention to the issue so that when calls for nominations of ideas are made they get elevated to recommended level or the front page and people pay attention.  This is, I think, different from the usual "why isn't my diary recommended, all the same kids get their diaries recommended" whine.  I think what it means is thinking about how to get community buy in for the idea of "message testing".  Acheiving the community buy-in will then naturally be followed by the recommendations.  I'm looking for something other than the "blogger as a rock star" model.  

        • another issue would be the correct technology to manage ideas, a.  about nominating subjects as the primary focus (I'm all for energy, but I also like Health, I like Jobs, I like a lot of things).  What's our list of issues and which do we tackle first, and how do we decide that?

        • Once we decide, how do we decide on platforms or messages to test.  Do we stick with ideas and then test a wide range of words that sum up those ideas?  Do we start with resonant words and phrases and find policies to back them up?

        • How do we organize the raising of money?  This I actually think is an easier task than the first two.

        • Who to hire to do the work?  This is still a ways away, so I'm not going to worry about it right now.

        My President fought a war on terror and all New Orleans got was this lousy levee. - me.

        by dbratl on Fri Sep 30, 2005 at 08:07:19 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Great idea. n/t (none)

        Thirty-one million new blogs are created each year. Try ours at The Next Hurrah.

        by Meteor Blades on Fri Sep 30, 2005 at 09:27:15 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  This is the sophisticated message op-SMO (none)
      The Solution comes from the previous SMO-the Mainstream Media- becoming obsolete.

      We're about to find out why tanks, APC's, and troops surround TV stations and Communications towers (think it was an accident that the Mil kept Satellite phones from 1st Responders NOGC?), airports and Post Offices.

      How many times have we heard that Katrina wasn't as bad as Ivan on pipelines, or that the markets breathed a sigh of relief that "a bullet had been dodged" with Rita.

      Even Today's articles-the ones with ominous overtones(BUT DON'T PANIC!), say damage not as bad...

      But wait, what's this?:

      I've been reading a lot of articles about America's dependence on oil (foreign and domestic) and I finally found a really good article over at Slate. For all those economists out there, here's a perfect description of the asset/infrastructure problem:

      "The latest estimates, based on a comprehensive study released in 2002, predict that if prices rose from $3 per gallon to $4 per gallon and stayed there for a year (far greater and longer than the impact of Katrina), purchases of gasoline in the United States would fall only about 5 percent."

      me edit-When it comes to oil there is NO SUCH THING as DEMAND DESTRUCTION-with demand destruction comes human destruction.-edit done

      "Why don't we ratchet down more when fuel prices go up? The rule of thumb in economics is that people react to price increases only when they can turn to substitutes...people can't change the type of fuel they put in their cars, and they can't stop going to work. They might take one less driving vacation or check their tire pressure more often when they fill up. But that hardly makes a dent in the total numbers."

      This is why we need to start investing in alternative transportation infrastructure and alternative fuels now, to build substitutes to gas driven cars. ME Edit-there are no subs

      Oil prices are a real concern, despite relief that Hurricane Rita caused less damage than feared Me Edit-Not True-end edit. Prices have now remained higher for longer than policymakers expected, and the futures markets suggest they are going to stay high. Demand is expected to remain strong and it will take years for investment in new fields and refineries to increase supply.,3604,1579037,00.html

      If this is the thinking at "the highest levels" we are well and truly fucked. A serious gap over the next five years! These fools must be listening to Daniel Yergin. There is absolutely no reason to believe in deliverance after five years. It is like a belief in fairies or pixie dust. Five years from now, things will be very much worse than they are today, not better. Five years from today there will be less oil not more. Five years from now we will have burned through at least another 155,000,000,000 barrels of a nonrenewable resource. Idiots. Fucking idiots.

      The head of the Interior Department's Minerals Management Service, Johnnie Burton
      Me Edit-Another Political Op or is this guy an "expert"-end edit,

       said two weeks ago that Katrina did not do as much damage to offshore pipelines as Hurricane Ivan did a year earlier

      However, Burton's estimate turned out to be too optimistic, and the damage is much worse. "It appears that way," said
      MMS spokesman Gary Strasburg, who pointed out that Burton's comments were based on initial data available at the time

      Burton was out of the country and
      unavailable for comment.

      Me Edit-How convenient that this fool has better things to do outside the US than attend to the greatest disaster to ever hit the US and it's Major oil/gas field.-end edit.;_ylt=AipS3DBGmXGUIQbUjRA4ScK Cbpwv;_ylu=X3oDMTBiMW04NW9mBHNlYwMlJVRPUCUl

      Fortunately, while Hurricane Rita devastated some rural areas, its impact was less severe than had been feared, and refining capacity in the Gulf of Mexico was spared the worst.
      Me Edit-the impact was worst ever and refineries from Shell-Deer Park to Pascagoula Chevron were spared nothing-edit over.

      By Tom Doggett
      Thu Sep 29, 3:16 PM ET

      WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Hurricane Katrina did more damage to underwater oil and natural gas pipelines in the Gulf of Mexico than previously thought, according to the U.S. agency that oversees offshore energy production.

      Rita's Oil Rig Havoc Unprecedented. ... (CBS/AP) Hurricane Rita may(and you can drop the "may have" and insert "has" have caused more damage to rigs and platforms than any Gulf of Mexico storm, ...

      Again-Force Majour has been declared NYMEX Oct NG. That means NYMEX cannot deliver product.  

      The first zero degree day in Minneapolis will be the day that the US is not
      the primary control agent in the MidWest.

      •  There's just no silver bullet, here (none)
        To summarize:
        1-There's no such thing as Demand Destruction concerning Hydrocarbon (HC) Consumption

        2-the HC industry from Houston to Mobile has been destroyed.

        3-Watch LA pols on Democrat positions-they're all one foot from the abyss and they know it.

        3a-watch for a Huey P Long to emerge from the NOGC-GOM area.

        4-There are no alternatives to HC.

        5-The infrastructure of suburbia can be described as the greatest misallocation of resources in the history of the world" - James Howard Kunstler

        6-Nationalize airlines now into an Aeroflot

        7-Launch an immediate Railroad infrastructure upgrade on the same scale as Eisenhower's Interstate Program, using one of the lanes of the Interstate  System as a Railbed if needed.

        8-Karma's a bitch.

      •  Try 5 percent a year over ten years (none)
        "The latest estimates, based on a comprehensive study released in 2002, predict that if prices rose from $3 per gallon to $4 per gallon and stayed there for a year (far greater and longer than the impact of Katrina), purchases of gasoline in the United States would fall only about 5 percent."

        If gasoline was $8 a gallon in America, it will be only a matter of time before Americans drive tiny hybrids.

        •  They may be hybrids, (none)
          but there's absolutely no need for them to be tiny.

          Replace steel with carbon-fiber, reduce wind drag to the bare minimum, stick a high-torque hybrid engine under the hood w/ regenerative braking, and get 75mpg in whatever style body you like.

          I am the federal government.

          by mateosf on Fri Sep 30, 2005 at 11:12:59 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  60 mpg Prius is not tiny (none)
            Exactly, I can get 60 mpg in my Prius in mixed city/ highway driving and it is a five passenger car.

            So extending this to 75 mpg for mid-size and 100 mpg for two-passenger cars is not any big problem.  The Honda Insight already gets 70 mpg for a two-passenger car.

            It's just a matter of will.

            Will we allow the Bushite scum to pay off their oil company cronies?  

            Or will we throw out the Bushite scum and start a sensible energy policy?

  •  That home improvement tax credit (none)
    That home improvement tax credit is a great idea. In order to keep the administration of it somewhat straightforward, maybe it could be linked to the mortgage interest deduction. Do something simple like double that deduction for any year in which more than X percent of the home's mortgaged value is reinvested in Energy Star improvements.

    This would create employment and make homes more affordable, while greatly increasing the overall energy efficiency of the housing stock in very short order. It would even make the mortgage industry happy, both increasing their business and assuring that the homes they hold interest in are being improved year-to-year.

  •  A possible frame for an energy plan (none)
    that I saw broached as a question in the recent Democracy Corps poll and that got an outstanding bipartisan positive response--something like 80-20 support--was for the Democrats to do like JFK with the moon mission, and say to the American public that within a decade, we will be totally independent of foreign oil by developing new technologies.

    You can get into the details of how you'll accomplish it afterward, but the overarching plan, just like JFK's, calls on the American people's ingenuity, our sense of hope for the future, our ability to lead globally by creating a whole new area of jobs in alternative energy--basically tapping into the good side of American exceptionalism. It also plays to that age-old strain of isolationism that has run through our history since the beginning of the Republic.

    It would have the force of history behind it (the U.S. success in getting to the moon so quickly), so it's a concept that would have immediate resonance. You would also want to market it as good for national security, and even better for American pocketbooks. And it would be a vision for something, rather than a bashing of Bush/Cheney, which can only take you so far. Finally, the idea of a competition or race with a concrete deadline is something that taps into Americans' horserace/sports mentality when it comes to public affairs. I think it would be the perfect frame for the entire issue.

    •  That's the Apollo Alliance (none)
      They use that name to evoke the Kennedy-led drive to get a man on the moon.  Imagine the progress that was made in just nine years.

      We could easily see 100mpg cars, the Prius is already more than half way there.  Build on the proven innovations while encouraging more research and experimentation instead of paying off the ultra-rich Bushite scum oil companies.

      Check out the Apollo Alliance:

  •  Some modest suggestions (none)
    Great diary Jerome, this really needs to be done and Dems have to get on board...and they need to get some clear, succinct policy positions across the board.

    I have a few suggestions. First, how about another point to add to the five here: "The tax code must advance a diversified energy policy rather than inhibit it." To some degree this is implicit in several of the five points, but I think it would help politically to make it explicit. Among other reasons, it is a key way to put BushCo on the defensive for rewarding their oil friends.

    Also, one of your points is worded: "Diversification and conservation must be encouraged"  I might change that to "must be promoted", or maybe better still, "Government must promote diversification and conservation"  It just sounds a little more definite, and also brings forward the idea that the government must be active in shaping a national plan, rather than just a cheerleader.

    You might also want to reconsider the phrase "ruining America". I think many Dems would find that too strong (perhaps unwisely, but there you are). Maybe replace it with "undermining", so as to suggest both ruin and a disregard for the national good?

    Anyway, highly recommended!

    •  i like (none)
      "Government must promote conservation and diversification."

      short, snappy, and defines a pro-active role... nice!

      I don't think adding an extra line about the tax code helps, though. It IS implicit (especially in the new line about promoting), and adding it explicitly raises some potential red flags.

      To put it another way, in general, modifiying the tax code should be viewed as a means, not as an end...

      what would joe rauh do?

      by nbutter on Fri Sep 30, 2005 at 08:15:02 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Bonus points (none)
    point out how the cost of energy underlies the cost and availabilty of FOOD, since most of the calories are propped up by fertilizers unavailable without use of fossil fuel.

    this can be something rural farmers get behind too.

  •  Good Vision and Concise Statement (none)
    I have often thought the biggest problem with  the Repulican Energy Bill is that there is NO VISION.  Their solutions were more of the same. They can't seem to see past their hip pocket and then want a 15 minute pay back. This statement that you have made begins to outline a true vision for the future that also seems achievable.

    Another point that could be made:
    Better Energy Codes and Standards (for all buildings and products) should be set nationally so that the playing field is LEVEL for all businesses and manufacturers.

    For example:  Our county building code requires new building to comply with the IECC 2003(International Energy Efficiency Code) but other counties and towns in the state do not require this. This building code is already well established and encouraged by the DOE but Not required.

  •  Nuclear power much worse (none)
    than you think; please consider these items:

    1. Govt subsidies mask high cost of production, enrichment, waste management.  Not to mention liability.  The Price-Anderson Act limits nuclear plant operators' damages to a fraction of what a disaster would cost.  (And virtually all homeowners' policies exclude damages from a nuclear power accident.) Think Katrina, 1.5 million evacuated with next to no prospect of return.

    2. Waste management still not solved after 60 years - - most U.S. plants now store more than 2x the amount of spent fuel (highly toxic, quasi-weapons grade) that they are designed for.  The nuclear fuel waste, plutonium, is the most toxic substance known, with the possible exception of the pesticide contaminant dioxin.

    3. Nuclear power is only used for generation of electricity, perhaps 15% to 20% of U.S. total electricity.  Note how often the press glibly says "15% to 20% of U.S. power" is generated by nuclear: NOT TRUE as our electricity use is a fraction of our power use (think of transport, space heating, industrial processes, etc. that do not use electricity).

    4. Nuclear fission is an absurdly expensive and risky way to boil water (to generate steam to turn turbines to generate electricity).  The heat given off by nuclear fission was an unwanted byproduct of the original goal of the process: namely, to create superweapons!

    5. Nuclear industry is among the most highly centralized and monopolized.  Who needs GE, Westinghouse, Bechtel, & the Kerr-McGees of the world running our lives?  The 21st century could instead be a time when individuals and local communities literally "take back the power" with de-centralized, renewable, sustainable electricity generation!

    6. Due to the monopoly on nuclear production, and to the security concerns of the radioactive material, nuclear power creates a Government more in-cahoots, more secretive, more un-responsive.

    7. Who pays for all the extra security?  (Terrorists are not planning to bomb a coal or oil plant - - and certainly wouldn't bother to attack windmills or solar panels.)

    8. Nuclear power plants are not the answer to air pollution or the greenhouse effect.  A sensible portfolio of wind, solar, local hydro, cleaner fossil fuel plants, smarter regulation and tax credits for homeowners, and conservation can provide plenty of electricity and improve our environment and our lives.
    •  Pu (none)
      Is not the most toxic substance known. I see this argument thrown around all the time. Pu is highly toxic, dangerous, and has an extremely slow rate of decay, but it's no where near the most toxic substance known. Dioxin (TCDD) is also questionable as "most toxic substance".
      •  OK, so whaddaya got? (none)
        Where do Pu239 and Dioxin rate on the scale of "most toxic?"

        Maybe asbestos microfibers have killed more people.  Certainly malaria has.

        It is beyond question that plutonium is extremely poisonous - - and that it doesn't go away.  The half like is (without looking it up) something like a quater-million years!

        I'm willing to be edified - - if you get some list or chart of poisons, please post!

    •  would give you a 10 (none)
      bit too late to rate.
      Work for a campaign to shut local nuke plant.  Doing grassroots organizing and will steal a few of your phrases for my lit if you don't mind.
      Love your note that waste management still not solved after 60 years. 'Cause we always make that argument...but overlook the number of years they've failed to find a solution.
      re #7. NO ONE. Our plant is so unsecured...we have a lousy speed boat or two...the air space is pathetic.
      2 other points: human error/plants in crappy condition. factor. The horrendous re-licensing process gives old, falling-apart plants a pass. You probably know this: they all get grandfathered.

      Let no Bush supporter run from the master's record. Organize. 2006 begins today.

      by darcarama on Sat Oct 01, 2005 at 03:32:24 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Good post (none)
    My only suggestion would be to leave out all the proposed goalposts.  Only my opinion, but I think that your goals, ambitious as they are, are only a fraction of what is going to be forced on us over the next twenty years.  We should have started making these investments ten years ago, it will probably be another four before anything get's started, and it's probably too late to expect any kind of really positive outcome by 2020.  Just limit the points to how the Republicans have screwed the pooch, and hold off on how much spinach we are going to have to eat until the Dems are running things.
  •  Focus on Democratic success! (none)

    Jerome, this is a great effort. Thanks !

    We should not lead off with the reference to the republican energy plan. This provides the opportunity to derail the discussion from focusing on energy and into a discussion of the republican plan. The right wing noise machine will use this opportunity to ensure you never get to discuss your plan.

    Instead we should talk directly to Americans in terms of what they have to gain. I propose the following:

    Democrats are focused on providing a comprehensive energy plan for the United States

    1. Energy is a national security issue. You can't win a war on terror while funding the other side.

    2. Energy is an economic issue. Energy drives industry. The cost of energy threatens to undermine our economy and quality of life.

    3. We will focus on developing new and alternative sources of energy. We will emphasize domestic production to take control of our future.

    4. We will encourage conservation and support common sense conservation programs. The right conservation programs can decrease our energy usage and increase the quality of life.

    5. We will create jobs with our energy program. New technologies and the manufacturing of more energy efficient goods will provide an economic boom WITH jobs.

    6. We will reduce the need for environmental regulations with our energy programs. Oil based energy is toxic. We will focus on technologies that minimize the impact on the environment and reduce the need for regulations.

    7. We will put money back into the taxpayer's pocket. For the majority of Americans tax cuts will not cover the increase cost of energy. We will focus on programs that reduce the cost to run their homes and cars putting money back in their pockets.

    This allows us to focus the debate on energy and how democrats will help the nation. People will arrive at their own criticisms of the republican energy plan if they are provided with an alternative that benefits them.

    An empty limosine pulled up and George W. Bush got out.

    by beerm on Fri Sep 30, 2005 at 08:24:23 AM PDT

  •  Rebuilding our cities (4.00)
    20% reductions aren't going to be enough in that time frame, I'm afraid.

    You'll probably get 20% reductions just due to the market - the prices for energy may have gone up 20x -- people won't be driving Ford Excursions.

    Let the market handle what type of energy will be best for replacing our dwindling supply of hydrocarbons.  Of course, put some sane environmental protections in place.

    We need to rebuild our cities.  That's the only way out.  Make it possible to live without a car in America.  Europe does it.  Asia does it.  We don't do it.

    Build a high speed train network - like the TGV or Shinkansen.  Just as extensive as the Interstate system.  Use gas taxes to fund the construction of it.

    Subsidize buses.  I saw a comedy show stop Larry King while he was walking down the street in Beverly Hills, and they asked him how much they'd have to pay him for him to take a city bus.  People should take buses because it's easier than walking!

    Rebuild our downtowns.  In a lot of newer American cities, you can't even identify where the downtown is.

    Aside:  I'd love to be able to jump on the city bus here, just to go the 10 blocks down the street to the BART.  But the fare is $1.75, so I walk.

    •  Reduce the price of buses near BART stations (none)
      so people won't have to walk and the bus system will get more money.

      The discounted price should be posted on the bus sign along with an address so bus signs don't get swapped.

      The bus system could alternatively offer you a discount card sent to your address near the BART station.

  •  Might as well spank my own hobby horse, too (none)
    There is I think, room for all kinds of energy sources in any plan.. here's mine.

    The basic fact set I'll use is the following.

    1.  In the next thirty years, virtually every rooftop on the planet will be rebuilt at a significant investment.

    2.  Photovoltaic shingles and panels are a reality today, and only become cheaper as technology improves and particularly as volumes of scale are realized in mass production.

    3.  Petrodollars from oil states will not be recycled to the same extent in the future in the same high percentages as in past decades.

    4.  Every unrecycled petrodollar replaced by US worker payroll dollars is an exogenous economic stimulus and subject to an economic multiplier of 2-4 times.

    5.  Average tax rate is c. 25%.  

    6.  Every incremental dollar spent on domestic energy production reduces the number of unrecycled petrodollars one for one until unrecycled petrodollars are zero.

    7.  Doing the math.  Every dollar spent on domestic energy production increases tax revenues by
    $1 X .25 X 2 or 4  =  $.50 to $1.00
    This means you get a tax revenue increase of 50 cents to one dollar for every dollar you spend on domestic energy production until unrecycled petrodollars are zero.  THis is the amount of direct subsidy the Federal government has available for domestic energy investment whether for ceiling insulation or rooftop photovoltaics.  It will at  least get the development cycle rolling a bit faster.

    1.  So just do it.  We mandate that every roof built or rebuilt contains photovoltaics, even if only on the back side of a house, and we provide for a subsidy.  THis is going to be extremely attractive to retired boomers who need to reroof.

    2.  Community based hydrogen stills are constructed and powered by these photovoltaic roofs, if we can get the bugs out of hydrogen powered automobiles.

    3.  For a future vision, we keep developing super conductors so that we can cheaply transmit photovoltaic energy from the hemisphere which is collecting to the hemisphere which is in the dark or seasonally dim.  That will help even up the disparity in incomes between the northern and southern hemispheres if it could be accomplished.  Satelite based microwave relays might fit into this also.

    OK, needs work, to be sure, but it's a start on  energy independence and creating jobs.

    Fighting them here, so we don't have to fight over there.

    by NorCalJim on Fri Sep 30, 2005 at 08:28:52 AM PDT

    •  I need a new roof (none)
      And I've been holding off, even as the moss spreads over my rotting shingles, in the hopes that Missouri might institute some plan where I could get a portion of the money back on a solar shingle investment.

      But with Matt Blunt as our new governor (son of the slime who just took over as majority leader), odds are more likely that I'd get a bonus for stripping out insulation and adding an oil furnace than for putting on a solar roof.

      TwoTaboos -- Politics and Religion.

      by Mark Sumner on Fri Sep 30, 2005 at 08:32:33 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  In California... (none)
      there's been talk of making solar panel roofs a required option for new homes.  If you add tax incentives or even allow depreciation I think more people would get involved.  Its more difficult to retrofit a house with solar panels and I haven't seen enough companies supplying them to be able to make a good comparison of the benefits.  If they were more readily available and financing were clearer I would get one.
      •  The price is still a bit too high (none)
        on solar panels to induce me to convert my house to solar.

        Here are some prices:

        The technology is out there.

        The price is pretty close to being economical for me.

        Technology was developed as a result of the energy crisis of the early 1970s. Many of the patents have expired.

        Asian companies will devote major efforts to making high-selling price solar equipment.

        I am more worried about warranties and disposal costs of solar cells containing toxic elements like cadmium and arsenic.

        I am looking for government guaranteed caps on disposal costs.

      •  The economic engine helps if allowed to work. (none)
        If you could the engine running by dramatically increasing production volume it might be possible to halve costs, add newer technology for further cost cuts, then subsidize with a  combination of municipal, state, federal and energy company cash subsidies and you might get it to the point where it's essentially free to the consumer.  

        Fighting them here, so we don't have to fight over there.

        by NorCalJim on Fri Sep 30, 2005 at 11:50:44 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Having a solar panel ... (none)
          on the roof of a house, should be made as easy as having a water heater.  I do agree with the disposal concerns also the energy issues in manufacturing.
          •  Great way to put it. (none)

            Fighting them here, so we don't have to fight over there.

            by NorCalJim on Fri Sep 30, 2005 at 04:06:40 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Dude, I like your big picture-small picture view (none)
              And people should not think that supporting solar is something the Federal Government will never do.  When Carter was Prez, 1977-80 he moved us into some good things - - tax breaks and subsidies to homeowners, renters, landlords, businesses who insalled insulation and other conservation measures as well as solar - - and some dopey things - - like the Synfuels program.  But the point is, he got the U.S. as a whole to take baby steps toward Energy Independence.

              It would be nice if we don't have to wait for the next President to get more federal backging for sensible energy measures: that would be 2009 at the very earliest!

              By the way, would you mind linking a favorite website or two specifically on the item of solar roof shingles?  My old man mentioned he would love to install 'em even with the relatively meager tax break available in his state.

              •  Hi, thanks (none)
                Don't actually have a link.  Learned about these from the local paper, the Sacramento Bee,  and from a friend who works with the local community owned electric utiity, SMUD Sacramento Municipal Utility District, which has a rebate program.

                Fighting them here, so we don't have to fight over there.

                by NorCalJim on Sat Oct 01, 2005 at 12:17:47 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

  •  Winning the clean energy race (none)
    I think it's a George Lakoff-ism.  

    The "winning the race" part: The world will eventually run out of oil, the society that can be the first to find a viable alternative to petroleum dependence will be a world leader for generations to come. The race aspect inspires competition and effort, discipline and training. We want to be winners, and those people who are against clean energy are going to be losers.

    We need to get our country "ahead of the pack," so we don't get caught up in the nasty collisions over resources.  

    Clean energy (rather than "renewable" or the awful "alternative" energy) is very positive, easy to understand, and has a clear opposite: dirty, which is much more negative than the confusing "non-renewable" or normal sounding "conventional."

    Imagine the question: "Senator Stevens, I understand you are opposed to winning the clean energy race? Would you care to explain why you think America is a country of losers? Are you in favor of dirty energy?"

    Now, the actual goals, target, policies, and programs needed to accomplish the winning of the clean energy race are very complicated, but could easily be built on the framework. For example, cap and trade emissions regulations on the stick side, and research funding for clean coal, wind power and, fuel cells.

    Conservation programs are metaphorically getting in shape for the big race.  To help our economy perform better, to provide a boost for our fixed-income seniors who need it.  To make America more competitive, efficient, and healthy.

  •  Some editing suggestions and general thoughts (none)
    for the A smart energy policy will create jobs and prosperity paragraph:

    I would put "renewable energy" first.  Treat it like a "killer app" -- it will change the rules of how things are done for the better --  because it will be thought through.  I would put it first because it is a new and active means to an end -- it  will create energy at low cost which the country can use to make things and provide services, thus creating jobs and prosperity.  (In other words, connect the dots -- the paragraph as it stands does not quite do so.)

    Then follow with your thoughts on conservation.  Strictly speaking, conservation is not an energy source.  It is a means for husbanding and maximizing available resources.  I would put it second because it is a familiar, more passive means to an end.  It saves energy.

    In short, a smart energy policy will provide new ways of producing energy cleanly and saving energy sensibly.

    Jerome, you do great work.  I love the piece as a whole.

    If I may add a thought or concept (which may or may not belong in your document), I personally feel that one of the great failures of the current energy policy is that it puts too much emphasis on making profit from what really should be a public utility.  It would be better and more stimulating to have reasonably priced energy with which to do new, creative, and profitable things.  Making energy too expensive just chokes off all other possibilities.  It's an economy killer.

    I am back in California, which as we all know was raped over pretty well in the name of profit over what should be public utility.

    May I take A smart energy policy will create jobs and prosperity as my byline?  It bears repeating -- all over the place.

  •  Just got back from Muelenberg County (none)
    and coal-mining towns in West Virginia. Mr. Peabody's coal trains are full to popping!

    It is better to die standing than to live on your knees. - Emiliano Zapata

    by cotterperson on Fri Sep 30, 2005 at 09:07:24 AM PDT

  •  Jerome, could you do me a favor? (OT) (none)
    I wrote a comment to another diary (by Sherlock Google) about the style of French used in the forged Nigerien uranium purchase letter (the "Yellowcake Forgery").

    My French isn't really good enough to make a solid claim about whether this was written (or even vetted) by a native French speaker, or by an educated Nigerien, or by a forger who wasn't good at imitating either... But the letter is obviously crude, and just didn't pass the smell test for me. I also wondered why it was in all caps, which didn't seem right. Could you have a look? Do you have an opinion? You are obviously a very sensitive linguist, and I would be very interested in your take here.

    As another comment made clear, however, we don't yet know if this is an actual copy of the yellowcake forgery, or a forgery of the forgery. So while an interesting and potentially developing story, should be taken with a grain of salt...

    "[I]n all due respect to your profession [journalism], you do a very good job of protecting the leakers." -- Bush on Oct 7, 2003

    by QuickSilver on Fri Sep 30, 2005 at 09:27:27 AM PDT

    •  Here's the link (none)
      to the PDF document, with lots more copy.

      The French here is really bad, but it sounds like bad French by an English speaker... Can't quite put my finger on it...

      "[I]n all due respect to your profession [journalism], you do a very good job of protecting the leakers." -- Bush on Oct 7, 2003

      by QuickSilver on Fri Sep 30, 2005 at 10:22:56 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Had a look... (none)
        It mostly sounds like (pretty good) administrative French, but there are a couple of oddities. It's not enough for me to say that it is written by an English speakers, it's maybe just Francophone African oddities, but some of it does ring strange. Altogether, I am sorry to be inconclusive.

        European Tribune - bringing dKos to Europe
        in the long run, we're all dead (Keynes)

        by Jerome a Paris on Sat Oct 01, 2005 at 05:36:44 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Had a look too... (none)
        It's more a "cut and paste" style from more classical (and authentic) documents.. Sometimes the beginning of a phrase is missing... Or the tenses are not according to the subject, etc...!
        The francophone African administrative french is usually more correct then the french administration nowadays :-)

        By the way the "confidentiel" (confidential) stamp is not the one used by french administration/army and most francophone states! There's no true rule of the book on that point but an old habit... And we all know that administrations all around the world just love to keep those old habits !

        "What can I do, What can I write, Against the fall of Night" A.E. Housman

        by Margouillat on Sat Oct 01, 2005 at 05:55:24 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  thank you BOTH for looking at this (none)
          As a non-native speaker, I will always second-guess myself. I just couldn't put my finger on why the French seemed off...I had noticed the clipped phrases, and had strongly suspected that the document was a pastiche ("cut and paste") of different official documents. The unevenness in the flow of the document is, for me, the telling point. So thanks for confirming.

          With hindsight, it's hard for contemporary viewers to believe that collectors of the 1940s were fooled by Hans van Meegeren's imitations of Vermeer. And yet the forgeries are exceptionally clever by the standards of the day, both in their technical execution (van Meegeren painted over 17th century canvases by other painters, rubbed the images down while preserving the craquelure, used an "aging" technique of his own devising, etc.), and in their choice of subject matter (in effect, he invented most of an "early" Vermeer style with strong Italian influences).

          My point is that forgeries are often difficult to detect at the outset, particularly if they come out of the blue and have no obvious precedent, or if they purport to show something highly unusual (uranium sales). However, these Niger forgeries are pretty clearly way off ... they are beyond crude, in fact. If you were to think that they actually represented some real transaction in uranium, well, what a careless transaction it would have been!

          "[I]n all due respect to your profession [journalism], you do a very good job of protecting the leakers." -- Bush on Oct 7, 2003

          by QuickSilver on Sat Oct 01, 2005 at 09:03:01 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Decentralize the Power: Renovate America (none)
    20% decentralized* by 2020

    By creating models and business plans for community-level energy co-ops, the Democrats could take concrete steps to decentralize the production of energy and balance out the political and economic influence of utilities and producers.  These co-ops would negotiate better rates, green sourcing, etc. and begin the process of building local generating capacity through wind or sun farms, biomass conversion, micro nuclear plants, industrial recapture, geothermal, tidal, or whatever they can use. Grants to these groups would create jobs in towns and cities across America.

    They could provide favorable financing and design of home solar upgrades, again taking advantage of their  buying power.

    Communities with more independent generating capacity can offer added economic security in the face of a decaying grid infrasturcture being used as a political spoil.

    *whatever that means!

  •  Efficiency (none)
    "Diversification and conservation must be encouraged"

    Diversification, efficiency, and conservation must be encouraged.  Efficiency is a little different from conservation and allows you to talk about upgrading the grid in ways that NEED to be talked about.

    Here's what I've been trying to kickstart for a good while now.  None of it is really patentable and thus not interesting to product developers.

    Solar Product Chain

    I want to make a series of steppingstone products to full solar electric power:

    solar powered LED light - flashlight, keychain or backpack fob
    solar jewelry - rings, bracelets, necklaces, with solar charging brooch and rechargeable battery pack
    solar bicycle light (for visibility)
    This set of products uses button batteries, CR2016 and CR2032 size and hearing aid batteries, for instance.  The simplest system is a solar cell, with a blocking diode, a set or rechargeable batteries, and a single LED

    solar/dynamo flashlight/radio and battery charger
    The charger works on AA and other dry cell sizes, possibly up to 12 volts.  A radio and flashlight are what is recommended in case of emergency and disaster.  If the also recommended extra set of batteries is rechargeables, the solar/dynamo system also produces electricity day or night by sunlight or muscle power as long as the batteries can carry a charge.

    solar car battery charger (one square foot)
    12 volt (and multiples)
    Every car can become a "hybrid vehicle" by installing an extra battery and a control system to charge from the alternator when the engine's battery is finished.  Battery switching, with 12 volt or dry cell or even button batteries is a key concept in the solar transition.

    one window solar electric system (four square feet)
    12 volt, with AC inverter and possible grid connect
    The one window system is 4 square feet of solar collector and should be almost as easy to install as an air conditioner.  Open the window, erect the frame, aim it at the sun, attach collector, plug it in, and close the window.

    There should be a consistent look and feel to all the products along the product chain and as much inter-operability as possible.


    Solar is Civil Defense

    by gmoke on Fri Sep 30, 2005 at 09:30:25 AM PDT

  •  20% (none)
    Carter's Council on Environmental Quality wrote a report at the very end of his administration, a report Reagan tried to quash, that called for 20% of our energy from renewables by the year 2000.  

    Forward into the past!

    Solar is Civil Defense

    by gmoke on Fri Sep 30, 2005 at 09:33:13 AM PDT

  •  "Clean Coal"? (none)
    No such thing just yet, if we're still worried about climate change. Clean coal is a very dangerous term to use right now Jerome - because the coal industry's definition of "clean coal" is any coal plant approved while a Republican is in office.

    The rest of this looks good, but might add that clean energy is actually faster and cheaper.

    I am the federal government.

    by mateosf on Fri Sep 30, 2005 at 09:41:48 AM PDT

  •  Ethanol from Caribbean and African sugar (none)
    Brazil makes ethanol from sugar cane.

    We should make sure that Carribean and African countries can do the same.

    I would rather see money go to a friendly Caribbean country than a hostile one in the Mideast.

    If we can reduce foreign demand for oil, oil supplies will last longer and be cheaper.

  •  Direct response. Wordsmithing. (none)
    Democrats have a plan to provide reliable and sustainable energy for all Americans

        * The Bush/Cheney energy policy is ruining America
        * Energy is a national security issue. America deserves a comprehensive policy and strong leadership
        * Diversification and conservation must be encouraged
        * A smart energy policy will create jobs and prosperity
        * We need measurable goals

    Point one.  Agreed.  But it's written in a politically confrontational manner that will lose people.  Most folks have only a vague sense of what the energy policy might be (few will realize that <ssshhhh> it's a secret from us...).  Besides, we're not going to be running against Bush/Cheney in 2008.  Yes, they're an anvil to tie the rest of the GOP to.  But we need to have an agenda that's bigger than "For god's sake, flush these shitheads."

    It needs to say something like "The administration's backward-looking energy policy is ruining America."

    Point two is better.  I'd massage the second sentence some.

    America's energy policy must be focused on the future, comprehensive, publicly accountable, and driven forward by strong leadership.

    Point four... not "We".  America.  "We" can be spun or misinterpreted.  America needs and deserves objectives and measurable goals.

    "Too many policemen, no liberty; Too many soldiers, no peace; Too many lawyers, no justice." Lin Yutang (1895-1976)

    by ogre on Fri Sep 30, 2005 at 09:59:17 AM PDT

  •  Renewable sources must ... (none)
    be emphasised.  Any use of Oil, Coal or Nuclear sources should only be temporary till they can be replaced.  
    •  NO nukes unless you can clean up the NRC (none)
      Can't have safe nuclear w/out industry oversight. So even if you think nuclear power is safe, and that radioacative waste can be safety stored, the NRC remains an industry shill, protecting their CEO friends from having to shell out a dime for public safety. Sad but true. They have denied nearly every safety-oriented petition submitted.

      Let no Bush supporter run from the master's record. Organize. 2006 begins today.

      by darcarama on Sat Oct 01, 2005 at 03:41:43 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  soviet russia really destroyed the environment (none)
    Many of the ex-soviet countries have dead rivers and lakes - where nothing grows except algae blooms. America has not allowed this to happen here, but it is inevitible if we do not monitor ecosystems and stop polluters before they destroy resources. Say what you like about property rights, but realize that unrestricted poisonous emissions are not fair to the property owners downstream from the pollution.

    Reduce your personal contribution to global warming with the do-it-yourself carbon exchange

    by Lefty Mama on Fri Sep 30, 2005 at 11:55:13 AM PDT

  •  International Cooperation (none)
    Or someone else will just go crazy with the cheez wiz. Kyoto Accords (cough, cough).
  •  Automotive suggestion (none)
    I'm not sure how much detail you guys are planning to go into, so I may be getting further into it than you would like, but I'm throwing this into the pot just to see what  comes of it. I must also say, Jerome, MB, and DT working together on this? Awesome! That, IMHO, is what makes this place so valuable.

    Personally speaking, I know the chance of me sticking to a 55MPH speed limit are somewhere between slim and none. Sorry, but I just can't stand driving that slow. I know I'm not alone in that sentiment, so I started to think about what could be done, automotive wise, to grealy reduce our reliance on oil. As an Aerospace Engineer, the answer is obvious. It's time for the American automotive industry to go on a diet. We need to set weight limits on our vehicles. I like this approach for a number of reasons.

    1. Reducing weight will directly reduce the size engine a vehicle needs for performance, be it speed or efficiency, although I think we can optimize it for both.

    2. By setting weight limits, we could radically change the way cars are built and literally create a revolution in the American Automotive industry.

    3. Reducing the weight of our vehicles will greatly reduce the loads on our highways. This will make our highways last longer. However, as an aside, I would like to see us start separating highways for cars and highways for trucks. In the sense that, we would have arteries, new highways, running through the country just for trucks (heavy vehicles, over a specific weight limit or size) and ones for cars. Partly, I think this will increase safety, because then you have fewer accidents of big trucks smashing smaller vehicles. Also, we can reduce what our highways have to be able to carry. This will mean less material for the roadways and less pollution being generated/oil being used in the construction of our highways.

    4. This does not limit the size of our vehicles, in and of itself, it just forces us to use more advanced technology to make them bigger. Americans, I'm told, like their cars big. That's fine, let them be "big", as long as they are within the weight contraints.

    5. This puts people to work, developing new technology. Now, in conjunction with this, I'm not saying overnight we go  from what we have now to cars not weighting more 2500 lbs and personal trucks/SUV's not weighting more than 3500 lbs, as an example. Rather, I am saying we would meet with the auto companies, come up with a realistic development plan for such technology, and make sure they receive incentives for developing and implementing this technology.

    6. In combination with this, I think we should look at setting up a NASA/DARPA for advanced applicantion and research for technologies applicable to civilian life. Most of  America's smartest people are used to find better ways to destroy each other. It's time to start using more of that cache of intellect to improve how we live, not just find new ways to destroy it. Buckminster Fuller called this Livingry, as opposed to weaponry. It's time for the Democratic Party to take the lead into developing Livingry, in an effort to create a better and sustainable future.

    Now, I propose this in parallel with more advanced engine/powerplant developments. But, I think, if we begin to radically approach the development  of automobiles, sort of like an Apollo program for the automotive industry, we could really make a huge leap in technological application of new materials, etc. In this regard, GM has shown that excellent design, I think it is fuel cell powered, where the electric motors, drive, suspension, all the "base" mechanicals are sort of constructed like a big skateboard and then the bodies are just bolted on, so you could literally buy a new body style and keep the same drive system for a very long time, or even pull your "car" body off and rent a "pick-up" body when you needed to. I'm not saying that is the way to go, but it does offer some ideas on what we could do.

    I would also like to see these vehicles developed, with regard to cradle to grave impact studies on the environment.

    The problems I see are the typical luddite responses of, "We can't change anything so entrenched" and the costs of changing  will eat into the profits, etc. We obviously will have to partially make it lucrative for them to change and find a way to show them that what we are doing now simply can't last.

    The other problem, which I suppose solves itself over time, is getting the "older" vehicles off the road. Now for people who can afford a new vehicle on a regular basis, this isn't such a problem. But for the poor, or people financially strapped, like myself, we'll have to figure out a strategy to get these people into one of these vehicles. Maybe if you are under a certain income level, you are entitled to a large write off, equivalent to 50% of the cost of the vehicle the year you purchase it?

    I find this approach appeling because it plays to an American sense of being the best, advancing out technological base, and still allowing "freedom" in the automotive sense.

    Reason obeys itself; and ignorance submits to whatever is dictated to it. -Tom Paine

    by Alumbrados on Fri Sep 30, 2005 at 12:23:13 PM PDT

  •  Here's an easy one: (none)
    I take the train to work every day. It costs $126.50 per month for a train pass. I can get $105 deducted from my pay on a pretax basis that I can then use to pay for my pass. $105 is the federal limit for this benefit (it was raised a whole five dollars for 2005). I have to pony up $21.50 of my own money. This saves me approximately $40 per month; it's a good deal. I live in the middle zone for train tickets, so those in the outer zones pay $165 per month, but can still only have $105 deducted.

    The same pretax deduction benefit to use for parking fees has a limit of $200.

    It's kind of a no-brainer to increase the limit for the public transportation benefit and either decrease or don't increase the parking fee limit. It always seemed fishy to me because in most cases the folks who pay $200 a month to park their cars are less in need of a tax break than those who pay $105 for public transportation. Just saying.

    Of course, in some places $105 is plenty for monthly public transportation costs, just not for Philadelphia regional rail!

    "Our countrymen have all the folly of the ass and all the passiveness of the sheep." - Alexander Hamilton

    by Spinster on Fri Sep 30, 2005 at 12:36:27 PM PDT

  •  My small contribution (none)
    (Changes in bold)

    Democrats have a fiscally sound plan to provide reliable and sustainable energy for all Americans.  They offer the strong and patient leadership needed to make long term changes that are sensible, affordable, and effective.

        * The Bush/Cheney energy policy is ruining America's economy and degrading our place in the world

          Policy must be formulated to the advantage of people and not corporations; to benfit all and not just a few

        * Energy is a national security issue, America must have a comprehensive policy. (snip)

        * Diversification and conservation are the keys

        * A smart energy policy will create jobs and prosperity

        * We need a commitment to attain measurable goals

    Research will be undertaken for the common good and not for private enrichment.  When federal money is used for the advancement of knowledge, we should ALL benefit.  Any profits should be shared in perpetuity.  That does not mean companies who assist with the advancement of knowledge are not allowed to profit, but they must share the fruits of that research.

    Long term solutions require long term planning, we will not allow progress to be made atthe expense of public health and safety.  Environmental considerations will be given great weight.

    Micro-production will be vigorously investigated.  Diversification of production will help minimize vulnerabilities and disruptions.  If every dwelling can produce even a fraction of their own needs, that will reduce the need for transmission infrastructure and allow more rapid recovery after disruptions.

    The nation's energy policy should be a high priority and one discussed openly with maximum input.  No more closed door strategy with a small group of those with a vested interest in the status quo.  It will take strong, visionary leadership to keep such a process from being bogged down in petty bickering and unrealistic demands, but without that strong leadership we will continue our certain decline at a rapidly increasing rate.

    (Thanks for this effort, we need focus and tenacity to make any changes.  If my small input is of any value whatsoever, I will be very proud.  Even if not a word of mine is used but it helps crystallize a coherent strategy, that's good enough for me.  If I can be of help in a small focus group, please e-mail me and I would be happy to give my 2 cents on the next draft)

  •  goal timeframe (none)
    20% of our electricity from renewables in 2020
    20% reduction of our consumption [imports?] of oil and natural gas by 2020
    20% reduction in our carbon emissions by 2020

    Sounds like too little, too late. By 2020, we will have used roughly half the remaining oil and increased total greenhouse gases by roughly 50%. If we linearly decreased over 15 years, rather than end loading, it would be about half that bad. I think we need to acheive that level of reduction or better by 2010. And the primary thing stopping us is the fact that wealth has been concentrated in the hands of a few (10% of the population controls 70% of the money, 1% controls 38%) limiting the amount of money availible to the average citizen to make improvements. Even a permanent redistribution wouldn't necessarily be needed - loans (paid back out of the savings) would be enough. Problem is, those who control the majority of wealth might consider consumers a bad credit risk now that they have been driven to the edge of bancruptcy as a result of being milked dry by the rich.

    This winter alone, colder regions of the country could probably cut their home heat consumption by 25% for the amount of money they are otherwise going to spend on inflated heating bills the next couple winters alone. One approach is to build a wall within a wall on exterior walls in high usage living areas. Fiberglass insulation $1/sqft. Stud wall $0.50/sqft, drywall $0.20/sqft. So, you can double the insulation on 100sqft of wall for in the neighborhood of $200. Outlets need to be moved forward and windows framed around. Don't need to do drywall mud and sanding this year, do over the next few years. Do north facing walls first, south facing walls last. Townhouses and apartments/condos have half as many walls to insulate. Adding insulation to attic is easy in many cases. Self adhesive plastic mouldings can be used to cover windows with removable plastic. Some windows can be covered with 2" thick blueboard; cut it slightly oversize and tapered and wedge it in to minimize drafts and cover with aluminum foil. Lower thermostats a bit and wear more clothes. Of course, if you have uninsulated walls currently, you want to backfill with blown cellulose first. So, if your winter heating bill was $1000/yr and doubles to $2000 due to natural gas prices doubling and $2000 worth of insulation cuts heating costs 25% ($500/year), it pays for itself in 4 years. If natural gas prices come back down, it takes a longer to pay back. More moderate areas take longer to pay back. This assumes you do the work yourself.

    Those considering the draconian measure of switching to coal should consider a corn stove or furnace instead; cleaner and reportedly cheaper than coal (though that could depend on where you live) and renewable.

    Longer term, concentrating solar on a household scale has some potential. A 10foot diameter collector would collect about 10KW of sunlight. A stirling engine would produce about 1.5kW of electricity. Waste heat from the engine would then heat water, provide space heating, and could even power an adsorption or stirling refrigerator or A/C. 37 foot dishes now produce 10kW of electricity. These need to be scaled down. Alternatively, some photovoltaic cells can work at the higher heats found in concentrating systems. For either concentrated PV or stirling designs, using the waste heat not only makes sense in terms of reducing waste but you need to disipate that heat anyway to maintain the efficiency of the generator and prevent damage.

    One important policy objective: protecting people's alternative energy projects from homeowners associations and other NIMBY folks.

    Thanks for your regular diaries on the subject, Jerome.

  •  Not clear what this means (none)

    We are sending growing amounts of money to regimes that are hostile to us or to their own populations

    How about

    We are sending growing amounts of money to regimes that are hostile to us, or to individuals that are funding groups that are hostile to us.

    Science without religion is lame. Religion without science is blind. Albert Einstein

    by DrSpike on Fri Sep 30, 2005 at 08:20:04 PM PDT

  •  This is great (none)
    Now how do we get the democratic leadership to listen. One idea is to present this to the greater kos community and when we have a polished document, organize a writing camapaign to the democrats to adopt these ideas.

    Science without religion is lame. Religion without science is blind. Albert Einstein

    by DrSpike on Fri Sep 30, 2005 at 08:24:48 PM PDT

    (sorry, this is a duplicate, also posted to Jerome's  Oct 1 "the end of oil")
    please investigate this concern and help make people aware of it because I'm not sure it's well known to voters:
    In the recent energy bill, I think that the nuclear energy lobby got congress to approve a tax payer bailout of any new nuclear power plants in the event of a catastrophic meltdown or other "problem" because those who want to build them and run them and insure them are not willing to undertake the risks of nuclear energy plants without taxpayers being on the hook. This is a terrible thing, because no one has solved the problem of disposing of nuclear fuel (not to mention the risks of terrible accidents) and yet the nuclear industry is itching to move into the energy vacuum as oil becomes less plentiful.
    Ideally (and I'm no expert) we would all be better off, IMHO, if families could, say, own a wind turbine, connected to the grid and trade surplus or deficit power with the grid.
    But "big business" wants a nuclear oligopoly and congress seems ready to go along with it.
  •  I'd like to make a pitch for............... (none)
    Tidal Power generation.
    See this Wiki for more info.

    Living in the Puget sound region (Washington State) with thousands of miles of coastline (including all of the coast up through Alaska) It seems to me that the northwest is a prime area for installing tidal elecrical generators because of the large high and low tide differences. Just a thought.

    Republicans are convinced that government is the problem ... and as the government, they're doing their damnedest to prove themselves right. -Bearpaw

    by rickeagle on Mon Oct 03, 2005 at 12:17:31 PM PDT

  •  Biodiesel from Algae (none)
    This study [Link] from the University of New Hampshire discusses the possibility of replacing ALL US transportation fuel with high-oil-content algae farms using no more land eqivalent than 12.5% of the Sonora desert in Arizona with the ability to use salt water and unprocessed waste streams for a one-time investment cost of about what we paid for the Iraq War so far and continuing costs for running them of 1/3rd of what we spend to import foreign oil.  This is tried-and-true technology that has been extensively researched from 1978 to 1996.
  •  Less Flowerly Language, More Detail!!! (none)
    There are so many comments, that I doubt mine will ever get read. Anyhow, let's talk about efficiency. This manifesto is inefficient. It should be shorter and to the the point. Instead of saying we will pass "the following acts" switch it to actually describing the acts.

    Drop all the flowery language about how much Democrats care about people. Everyone knows Democrats care. Even the Republicans. It's why they can use the whole "bleeding heart liberal" tripe again and again.

    Details, details, details. I'm personally convinced that Dems are perceived as being ineffective and it's one of our main political liabilities. Let's be effective with the manifesto.

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