This is the third draft of a proposed Democratic energy plan. It's been a month now since Jerome a Paris put together the first draft of a comprehensive Democratic energy strategy, and a couple of weeks since the second draft came courtesy of Meteor Blades. But the real power behind the plan comes from the all the people who have provided critique, support, and suggestions.
If two brains are better than one, then thirty thousand plus brains of DailyKos beat the stuffing out of the handful of heads usually involved in drafting policy. This plan has enjoyed great support here at kos, and the hundreds of comments have brought new ideas, fresh perspectives, more... energy. Even the name of the plan, Energize America, comes from suggestions made in the comments.
Today, we're back with the latest draft. Not the final draft, but the latest. And your brain is needed again.
- Short, easy to understand statements of purpose that can be used to support the plan everywhere from TV ads to the back of a business card.
- Brief paragraphs that extend the initial statements, and are more suitable to flyers and press releases.
- A set of proposed legislation that acts to bring the goals of the plan into realization.
The list of proposed legislation is the real "meat" of the Energize America. Among the comments on the second pass, there were some complaints that the plan was "legislative" and not "ideological," but that's exactly the point. It's easy to trumpet platitudes about energy independence, new jobs, and new technology. It's a lot harder to hang flesh on the bones, put pencil to paper, and determine how to make those things happen.
This is also the area in which we're in most need of help. Before this plan can be submitted to Democratic lawmakers and candidates, it's going to need some dollars attached to individual items. Is this a $50 billion investment between now and 2020? $100 billion? Are some of the items too costly for the benefit returned? Your input and accounting skills are needed.
If this plan is to be both effective and inspirational, it can't be ideological. It can't be an excuse to stomp the toes of hated targets on the right, or pad the pockets of favorites on the left. Make no mistake: this is intended as a serious plan for both the short term and long term reformation of energy generation and consumption in the United States, it is not just a scheme to win seats in either 2006 or 2008. That does not mean that this is not a Democratic plan. After essentially rolling over to Republican ideas on energy since 1980, Democrats up and down the chain are recognizing the critical need for an alternative to the right's "keep drinking till the last drop" approach -- and those of us who have been crying in the wilderness all these years can only say "it's about damn time." If this plan often falls in line with policy that has been suggested by figures on the left, that's because there have been many good suggestions. If it seems to be attacking institutions associated with the right, that's because those on the right have operated for too long to maintain the status quo and block needed reforms. If this plan acts to be a primary instrument in getting more Democrats elected to office, as we believe it can, that's a very nice bonus.
In designing this plan, we have taken good ideas where we could find them, and tried to integrate those ideas into an effective whole. The three of us have inserted our own original ideas, but just as often found it necessary to kill our own sacred cows. We haven't shied away from lifting from the Apollo folks, or Senator Reid, when we thought they had a good idea. We don't want Democrats to establish unrealistic goals, or to wager everything on some technological breakthrough that may never occur. If you're looking for the "we're all going to be driving hydrogen cars in ten years and make the hydrogen with fusion power plants" plan, look elsewhere. Instead, we've tried to concentrate on what we know can be done now, if only enough will power and determination are applied.
We've also tried to avoid being tripped up by the purity patrol. At every stage, this plan represents compromise. That may sound unappetizing, but compromise gets a bad rep. Our whole nation is founded on the idea of compromise, and what is it that we complain most about in the radical right, if not their unwillingness to bend?
To take this plan to the next stage, we need to ask more of you than just reading this diary. We need you to contribute. Help us by
- Polishing the words until they put each idea into the most succinct and effective terms we can find. This is especially true of the shorter statements, which must grab attention and communicate effectively in just a few words, but it's also true of the legislative items, which need to be brought closer to actual legislative language while not losing clarity or brevity. This plan is expected to go far beyond its life on the blogs, so help us bring America words they'll remember.
- Putting some numbers to the legislative items and helping us to estimate the cost of the legislation. Would the mileage act cost $5 billion a year? $10 billion? Is some item so expensive that we should think about changing the terms or eliminating the proposed legislation all together? We're in serious need of some people willing to sharpen their pencils and pull out their calculators.
- Trimming the stack. There's a lot of proposed legislation down there, and while we certainly want new ideas that might be added, we also want you to help us cut back the weeds so the plan doesn't seem too cluttered. Pick the item you like the least, tell us why, and help us keep the plan at a reasonable length. Conversely, if you have a concrete legislative proposal, we'd love to hear it; we would be quite partial to end up with 20 proposals in order to "rhyme" with our 2020 objectives.
- We will also need help from graphic designers to make this look as good as possible on paper or on a webpage; this will come at a later stage, but we're interested to hear of any volunteers to work on this area. In the short term, we'd love to hear from you if you have access to good statistics, or more visually striking graphs than those inserted for the time being in this text, which would need to be reworked and updated.
All this is only preamble. If you've made it this far, you deserve a good energy plan as a reward. So here it is...
Energize America - A Democratic Blueprint
Despite thirty years of wild fluctuations in the marketplace, declining domestic production, and frequent dire predictions from respected scientists and economists that petroleum production was soon to decline worldwide, Congress has made little effort to address the issue. In fact, the recently adopted energy plan only compounds the problems by driving the nation into greater dependency on oil, and specifically, on imported oil. By their own admission, the current plan will leave the nation more dependant on imported oil, and do nothing to address security or environmental issues. Anyone who is serious about national and economic security knows we must be serious about moving our country toward real energy independence. This process cannot be achieved overnight. It will take a generation at least - which is all the more reason we must begin immediately. Our plan will create innovative new jobs and build a cleaner, greener and stronger America.
To Energize America, we support four principles:
- Boost energy diversity to strengthen our national security.
- Replace current energy policies that leave America vulnerable.
- Promote energy efficiency and conservation to protect Americans and the environment.
- Invest in renewable energy to create jobs and enhance America's technological leadership
Build energy diversity to strengthen our national security: Diplomacy, homeland security and the economy are all connected through our energy policies. America imports 60% of the oil it consumes and our demand continues to grow, even as the production of oil moves toward inevitable decline. Our dangerous dependence on foreign oil - much of it from unstable countries - puts our servicemen and women at risk and holds our foreign policy hostage. America will increasingly be competing with China and other nations for dwindling oil supplies, causing prices to rise, laying the foundation for economic turmoil and presenting grave threats to peace as countries mobilize to protect their interests. Only by establishing policies that wean us off gas and oil can we avoid a disruptive and potentially lethal outcome in this coming scramble. We need diverse sources and a diverse infrastructure that will protect us from disasters both natural and man-made. We support an Apollo Project for Energy to support research, development and commercialization of alternative energy sources. Our plan calls for Renewable Portfolio Standards and for a National Conservation and Efficiency Program. We seek enhanced incentives for energy production from solar, wind, geothermal and biomass, and for government-funded demonstration projects in coal-to-liquids technology and intrinsically safe nuclear power designs.
Replace current energy policies that leave America vulnerable.: Originally crafted in secret by oil and gas lobbyists under the direction of Vice President Dick Cheney, the Republican energy plan is a blueprint for ruin that repeats all the mistakes of the past. This attempt to drill our way out of the mess we've made for ourselves increases America's reliance on imported oil, undermines environmental regulations, ignores global climate change, harms the economy and continues to put us at risk at home and abroad. Meanwhile, billions of tax dollars are being siphoned off by well-established oil and gas companies, whose wallets already bulge with record-breaking profits, and pitiful amounts are allocated for alternative energy sources and conservation. The Republican plan rewards companies for manipulating the market, and punishes those who have done their best to be good stewards of resources. It is time to put the needs of all Americans ahead of the greed of a few.
Promote energy efficiency and conservation to protect Americans and the environment: Though conservation has often been derided, and its importance minimized, the truth is that no new technology for energy production can have as much immediate impact on our energy use as means that are already available to reduce our energy needs. Our plan envisions a rapid expansion in the percentage of cars and trucks that pollute less and travel farther on a gallon of fuel, subsidies to promote more efficient use of energy in the home, and improvements in the energy infrastructure to eliminate waste. By conserving power, we can also conserve our last wild places, our remaining clean water, and the very air we breathe - and we'll save billions of dollars in the process. Energize America calls for protection of pristine public lands and ensures that higher energy prices will not unfairly penalize our economically weakest citizens. Invest in renewable energy to create jobs and enhance America's technological leadership:
Innovation is an American birthright, but short-sighted policies have sabotaged our technological lead. Twenty years ago, American-made wind turbines were the world's most advanced. Now Denmark's are. GM once led the world in automobile technology. Now Toyota does. We must restore America's technological prowess. Public and private investments today in renewable energy will mean a better environment for our children tomorrow, well-paying jobs and the lead in vital and exportable technologies. Renewable energies provide more jobs than other energy sources, and these jobs will always be close to home. Our plan calls for investments in math and science education for the next generation of energy engineers, access to worker training and retraining in advanced energy technologies, and for making America the first place everyone turns when looking for innovative energy products.
Energize America's SMART Goals
There is no magic bullet which will turn statements into achievements. Our goals to Energize America are simple and straightforward. They will not, however, be easy to accomplish because old habits die hard and there are powerful people and institutions which stand in the way. These forces will not only seek to obstruct our goals, but to obscure our progress. To make the real picture as clear as possible, Energize America is based around three simple measures:
- 20% of our electricity from renewable sources by 2020
- 20% reduction of imported oil and natural gas by 2020
- 20% reduction in our carbon emissions by 2020
Strategic in that they greatly reduce our dependence on foreign oil and help make America more secure. They are Measurable and progress will be visible to all. They are Aggressive because we need to begin what will be a decades-long move away from our dependence on foreign oil before it is too late. They are Realistic because they are attainable, although they will require significant investment, sustained personal commitment and strong political leadership. They are Targeted at developing renewable energy sources, improving energy efficiency and protecting our environment.
Are these goals sound?
Some will ridicule our goals as overly ambitious: not possible. Nobody can make such a transition in so short a time, they will say. We disagree. We believe these goals are attainable, although we are acutely aware of the technical, institutional, political and cultural obstacles to success.
Others will say we haven't gone far enough. Why not full "Energy Independence by 2020," as proposed by Harry Reid? This time, it is we who say: not possible. Pushed hard and consistently, energy independence may be attainable by 2035 or 2040. The switch to all-renewable energy will take decades longer.
Energize America - Proposed Legislation
While the full transition to clean, renewable sources of energy will take decades (and include retooling our country's infrastructure and redesigning our cities), much can and should be done immediately to reduce energy demand, increase efficiency, and buy us time. We can't afford to wait, and we don't plan to wait.
Energize America's Legislative Agenda
During the first 100 days of Energize America, we will initiate the following proposals. It is this proposed legislation that makes up the heart of Energize America. If these fail, all the platitudes in the world will not help, and if the legislation is not effective, the plan can not be effective. Not all of these legislative pieces are equal, but they are all vital to reforming our national energy picture and putting us on the right path for the future.
1. The Automotive Mileage and Pollution Credit Act
Forget Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards, which were established to gradually increase how far the average car could travel on a gallon of fuel. These were a good idea and had a positive initial effect after Congress passed them into law 30 years ago. Since then, however, Republicans have used CAFE standards as a propaganda tool against Democrats, and automakers have creatively avoided them by reclassifying vehicles. We propose a fresh approach to replace both CAFE standards and the current federal rebate on fuel-stingy hybrids.
Anyone who buys a car or pickup truck gets a $200 rebate for every mile per gallon the new vehicle comes in above the national mpg average. That average is now 19 mpg. So, buy a Ford Explorer hybrid, which has a 33 mpg rating, and you collect $2800. The rebate program won't discriminate by technology. Hybrids, diesels and fuel-cell cars all qualify. A rebate cap of $6000 will be set for any vehicle averaging more than 30 mpg above the national average. Commercial vehicles will be calculated using a different set of standards and the actual amount of rebate will be adjusted depending on the pollution produced by a vehicle in normal operation.
2. Government Fleet Conversion Act
Requires that within two years of passage the government begin to purchase the highest mileage, lowest polluting vehicles available for any given task, and that within five years of passage, the entire federal government fleet be replaced by high efficiency vehicles. This act would also provide incentives to state and municipal governments to do the same. Such a program would insure manufacturers a ready purchaser for efficient vehicles, and eliminate the purchase of many low-mileage vehicles now marketed primarily for fleet purchases. While it would be good to begin enforcement of these rules immediately on passage, US manufacturers are currently unable to offer competitive vehicles in many segments. A program that spurs the purchase of foreign-made cars and light trucks would likely mean additional erosion in the jobs of American union members. To give all manufacturers a fairer chance to compete, a two-year window is provided after signing. For example, if this bill were passed in January 2006, all new purchases would be high mileage vehicles beginning in 2008 and the federal fleet would be fully converted by 2011.
3. Bus Fleet Conversion Act
A few municipal mass transit agencies and school districts are converting their bus fleets from those that burn gasoline and petroleum diesel to those that burn compressed natural
gas. A handful are looking at converting to biodiesel, fuel made from vegetable oils, or buying hybrid electrics. Using incentives for manufacturers and end users, the act will mandate conversion of the nation's bus fleets to natural gas, electric, hybrid-electric or
biodiesel over a period of 10 years.
4. Energy Research Funding Act ("Cents for Energy Sense")
This act implements a compounded one cent per gallon federal tax on gasoline, with the tax increasing by one cent a month for a period of ten years. Proceeds of this act would go to fund:
- Research and pilot projects in renewable energy production
- Development of improved energy storage (batteries)
- Improvements in materials recycling and energy conservation
- Energy subsidies to low-income families
At the end of the ten year period, the total tax would be $1.20 per gallon. This would generate if oil consumption was not reduced, this would generate more than a billion dollars a month, but the rate of increase would be barely visible against the backdrop of normal price increases.
At the moment, federal allocations for research and development are barely a fourth of what they were in 1981. Our efforts to free ourselves from oil come to less than what it costs to continue the war in Iraq for two days. This single act would reverse that course, and put America on the path to becoming a research powerhouse.
To avoid burdening the people who can least afford it, this program would provide for exemptions or paybacks to low income families.
5. Coal Liquefaction Demonstration Project Act
Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer has given fresh attention to an old technology that turns coal into liquid fuel that, if produced in large enough quantities, could reduce the need to import as much petroleum, one of Energize America's key goals. A massive investment in coal-to-liquids could theoretically fuel tens of millions of America's vehicles until a better technology comes along. However, there are serious questions at every step of the way, from extraction to exhaust pipe.
The modernized Fischer-Tropsch technique that Schweitzer and others have proposed as the method to convert America's abundant coal reserves into synthetic fuels needs a full-scale test. The act will set the parameters for a public-private partnership to build and operate two coal-to-liquid plants using state-of-art "scrubbers," carbon dioxide sequestration and other strict environmental controls.
6. Passenger Rail Restoration Act
American passenger rail service could be spurred into a rebound if a single modification were made: speed. Energize America proposes a federal-state-private partnership to build, equip and operate two new high-speed rail lines using existing technology, such as Japan's bullet trains or Germany's Inter City Express trains. One system would be built in the Northeast, say, New York City to Washington, and one in the South or Far West, say, Houston to Orlando, or Los Angeles to San Francisco. If ridership demonstrates sufficient interest in this technology as a means of intercity transport, additional partnerships could be enacted to expand and integrate the high speed lines.
7. Telecommuting Assistance Act
Establish a tax credit for those companies that use telecommuting to reduce employee travel. The maximum credit will be set at $2000 per year for a full-time employee who telecommutes five days a week. This will be pro-rated on a $400-a-day basis for employees averaging fewer than five days a week telecommuting. To receive the credit, companies must agree not to outsource the credited position to an overseas firm for a period least five years. In addition, the act will impose a return to older, more relaxed IRS rules to allow telecommuting workers to claim a portion of their house as an office for tax purposes.
Our goal to generate 20% of America's electricity by 2020 with renewable sources is an ambitious one. Denmark, which began developing a strong preference for renewable energy sources in the early 1980s, plans to obtain 35% of its energy from renewables by 2030. However, with a federal commitment to a mix of incentives and penalties, plus funding for research, development and commercialization, the United States can achieve our goal. Indeed, if this plan is successful the United States can, like Denmark today, become an exporter of renewable energy technologies.
8. Renewable Power Act
A variety of renewable energy techniques have come a long way in the past three decades, particularly wind turbines and photovoltaics. These still only provide a tiny fraction of America's (and the world's) electricity. To reach Energize America's goal of generating 20% of our electricity with renewables by 2020, the act proposes:
- Five Million Solar Roofs Initiative. Originally proposed as the One Million Solar Roofs Initiative by the Solar Energy Industries Association in 1997, and endorsed by President Clinton, a similar government-subsidized proposal offered by California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger ran into trouble over union pay scales for installation. Our plan would put five million electricity-generating systems on American homes between now and 2012 by tripling the current tax credit of $2000 for residential solar installations and extending the existing tax credit program beyond its 2007 cut-off date. Our program would add 15,000 megawatts of solar electricity, more than 15 times the currently installed amount of such power worldwide, and equal to the power provided by 50 typical coal-fired plants.
By creating a demand, this act would encourage American entrepreneurs to meat that demand with new products and installation. This act would greatly increase the ready market for solar products, and encourage the development of more start up companies.
- Extend the wind energy production tax credit from 2007 to 2015. It's estimated that the United States will have 15,000 megawatts of installed wind power capacity by 2009. An enhanced production tax credit could raise that figure in the short run and vastly expand it after 2009 by giving wind farm entrepreneurs a stable and predictable market.
In a country that is mourning the lost of manufacturing jobs and aching for clean, low-cost power, expansion of wind power offers benefits on both fronts. Wind turbine manufacturing would create new heavy industry jobs at home, and create those jobs in an industry whose product can readily be exported. To see that happen, there has to be a stable, long-term demand for wind power. Building 10 megawatts of wind generation capacity brings with it approximately 40 jobs over the one year construction period, and 2 full time jobs over 20 years, for a total of 80 man-years.
- Federalize energy "net metering." Programs that allow homes to sell power back to the energy companies during times of high generation (effectively "running their meters in reverse") exist in several states, but these programs are a hodge-podge of local regulations. Federal regulations should be set to regularize this practice and expand the ability into the many states that don't now support energy buy back.
Nineteen states already mandate that small amounts of retail electricity sold within their borders come from renewables, and other states are considering similar requirements. With milestones set at 5, 10 and 15 years, and assisted by tradable "Renewable Energy Certificates" (REC) linked to overall kilowatt-hours this act will require all but the smallest utilities to generate 15% of their electricity from renewable energy sources by 2020. Companies that generate power from qualifying renewable facilities will be issued
RECs that they can hold for their own use or sell to others. Plants that fail to meet the targets will be forced to either purchase REC from others that have exceeded their goals, or pay fines.
By focusing the act on net results rather than imposing specific solutions, the act will allow providers to invest in solutions most suitable to their areas, and develop renewable energy sources under market mechanisms.
Note that while Energize America calls not for 15%, but rather 20% of the nation's total electricity generation to come from renewables by 2020, we anticipate that the extra 5% not generated by utilities under the RPS Act will come from residential and business
installations which provide some or all of their own power under the net metering plan.
10. Federal Alternative Energy Demonstration Act
By means of venture capital and a federal grant program, this act would promote the construction of one major, experimental alternative power project in each state of the Union. Americans need to see alternative energy as viable. Highly visible projects can help build confidence, test new technologies (and spread understanding of existing ones) and develop cutting edge expertise. These projects could include wind, solar, biomass, biofuel, ocean thermal, geothermal, hydroelectric dam turbine upgrades and other energy sources that include features which have not yet been tested in a full-scale model and that take advantage of unique geographical or other aspects of each state.
11. National Conservation & Efficiency Act
Over the past 25 years, conservation has gotten a bad reputation among many Americans because people have believed, as Ronald Reagan once said, that they will "freeze to death in the dark." But conservation doesn't require physical discomfort or giving up modern conveniences. In fact, due to conservation Americans are already using 25% less electricity than was predicted 30 years ago. Moreover, conservation displaces much more expensive and polluting sources of energy. Amory and Hunter Lovins have called this source "negawatts," and it's both the cheapest, and most effective type of reform. The act includes:
- Develop an energy education curriculum for elementary and secondary schools. Conservation is like sex education - every generation needs it.
- Fund SUN centers in every state. Under Jimmy Carter's energy department, four regional SUN centers were established nationwide to provide outreach to consumers eager to learn how to be more efficient in their energy consumption: everything from the simplest - like weatherization and shopping for energy-saving appliances; to the complex - like designing a house in such a way as to take advantage of natural lighting and heating by the sun. Currently, the federal government funds six regional energy efficiency centers, but Republicans recently proposed eliminating them altogether.
- Launch an independent federal review of appliance efficiency with an eye toward boosting standards when the technology is available to make that realistic. This review would also ensure that consumers get accurate, easy to understand information about the real energy costs of their appliances.
- Require all new federal buildings, as well as state and local government buildings constructed with federal assistance to be designed and built with the highest level of energy efficiency in mind, including being as nearly self-sufficient in energy production as technologically possible on the date the design for each such building is approved. Currently, the federal government operates under the Energy Savings Performance Contract, which allows private contractors to help Federal agencies improve the energy efficiency of their facilities. This should be made mandatory.
Home owners and rental-property landlords who upgrade their dwellings according to a standard, geographically-adjusted conservation-and-efficiency formula will receive tax credits up to 50% of the cost of the upgrade. New or old homes purchased with FHA or FmHA loans will be required to meet conservation standards. Low cost loans will be provided under the auspices of the same agencies to cover any needed upgrades. This will ensure that consumers at the lower economic end of home buying are not saddled with homes that are low cost to buy, but high cost to own. It will also improve their property values and have a much greater impact than just rewarding those who can already afford to pay for their own improvements.
13. The Standard Nuclear Power and Demonstration Project Act
While many people have understandable reservations about nuclear power, it may be required if we expect to break free from fossil fuels in the next few decades. Right now, nuclear power is at a standstill because of well justified environmental and safety concerns. To get nuclear power moving again, this act would:
- In partnership with industry, mandate the siting, design and construction of a full-scale "intrinsically safe" nuclear power facility to test its suitability as a pioneer for a new generation of nuclear plants.
- Work with the IAEA to create new standards for the regulation and inspection of nuclear plants worldwide, and for improved regulation of nuclear waste.
- Investigate and standardize means of waste disposal, while understanding that no solution will be perfect.
- If the test plant proves itself, and waste disposal problems are resolved, the act would spur provide incentives for expansion of nuclear power by allowing the construction of additional plants that conform to a standard, intrinsically safe design. All such plants would require that uniform planning, site evaluation, construction, disposal and operations are carried out to ensure environmental, worker and general public safety, and all such plants would have to meet the regular inspection regime of independent inspectors.
14. Clean Generation Act
Coal is cheap and extraordinarily abundant. At present, coal generates about half of America's electricity and dozens of new plants are being built across the country. For the next half-century, coal-burning power plants are likely to be included in the mix. Therefore, it is essential that we improve every aspect of our use of coal. The act would:
- Outlaw mountain top removal that is denuding mountains and choking streams across Appalachia. Limit surface mining to areas where "return to contour" is the rule and ban all dumping of spoil into waterways.
- Stop serial offenders by steeply increasing fines on failures to protect the environment.
- Allow easier prosecution of those who use "shadow companies" to evade environmental and safety regulations in the coal industry.
- Repeal "Clear Skies" and return to Clean Air Act provisions. Coal-burning plants should no longer be allowed to expand under regulations that allow them to pollute the way they did 25 years ago. The act sets 2020 as the deadline for bringing all coal-burning plants into full compliance.
- Regulate carbon dioxide as a pollutant. Just as the Clean Air Act imposes a gradually more stringent series of guidelines on other pollutants, Energize America's Clean Generation Act does the same with carbon dioxide. By 2020, all plants should be operating at 20% reduced CO2 levels. By 2040, we should require that total production of CO2 be cut in half through both scrubbing and sequestration.
- Revise pollutant certificate trading. In many ways, this has worked well. Producers who invest in technology that puts them ahead of government requirements get a payback by selling the "right to pollute" to less advanced producers. However, these certificates should be regional, not nationwide, to prevent a large "pollution bull's-eye" in the Midwest and resultant spread of these pollutants along a corridor of the east. Add CO2 certificates (which are already traded on a voluntary basis) to the mix.
- To ensure that transforming coal into synthetic fuels represents an actual improvement in CO2 production over burning petroleum products, all coal liquefaction or gasification plants should be required to use sequestration or scrubbing from the outset.
Good energy policy requires reliable, fair and consistent application and enforcement of rules. Specialized agencies like the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the Securities and Exchange Commission can do their job and enforce these acts only if they have the proper support, political and material. This legislation will increase the agencies' capacity to detect and react to fraud and compliance failures, heighten their ability to punish scofflaws, and ensure non-partisanship by proposing new rules for the nomination of their top officers.
16. Carbon Reduction Act
Leading experts believe that average temperatures across the world will climb by several degrees over the coming century. Icecaps and glaciers are already melting, sea levels are rising, and extreme weather events are occurring more frequently. Some portion of this change comes from burning hydrocarbons and producing carbon dioxide. Moreover, burning hydrocarbons causes health problems for many people. By themselves, the potential economic costs of these health effects and a changing climate run into the trillions of dollars.
As mentioned above under the Clean Generation Act, this act would formalize trading in CO2 certificates, and impose a gradually tightening regime of CO2 emissions standards.
At the same time, the act would call for the United States to reengage the world community on global climate change. Although the Kyoto Protocol to deal with global climate change is deeply flawed, America must rejoin international efforts to find remedies for the ill effects of climate change.
Thanks for sticking with us through this process!
Energy policy is a process, not a product. One hundred days and a handful of legislation will not by themselves make the country energy independent. Energy policy is a process, not a product. Adopting Energize America only sets us on the path; it doesn't bring us to the destination.
Five years from now, certainly fifteen years from now, we will see astonishing breakthroughs in technology. One of these, perhaps more than one, may make some of our legislative energy proposals obsolete or shorten the timetable we've set for reaching Energize America's triplet of 20% SMART goals. If that happens, we will embrace the advances and shoot for even better progress.
But we can't wait for the possibility that somebody will invent perpetual-motion juice and rescue us from our own recklessness at the last moment. When not speeding along in the wrong direction, we have spent decades waiting for our leaders to craft a good energy policy. Consumers have spent and will spend hundreds of billions of dollars they might have saved if such an energy policy had been in place. We can't afford more delays. Thousands of American servicemen and women have already died to defend our access to energy markets. We can't afford more delays.
Technology isn't everything. A truly energy-independent America will require a comprehensive rebuilding of our transportation and electricity-generating infrastructure. It will mean remaking our cities -- especially what Joel Garreau calls "edge cities," whose very existence is one of the major reasons for our energy predicament. Energy independence will require changing land-use regulations, a highly contentious subject under the best of circumstances. And it will require modifying our lifestyles, the mere mention of which can set off political explosions. These discussions cannot be avoided.
Energize America is not the whole picture, and it never can be. Energy is too wedded into everything we do. A comprehensive plan would require touching on every aspect of our lives, and be so unwieldy as to never be enacted. There is no single solution. There is no simple answer. There is no silver bullet.
None of this should dissuade us from moving forward. It is our hope that, when we reach the end of this part of the process and the pieces of Energize America have been thoroughly polished and revised by the formidable power of this community, that it will become more than just a series of diaries, more than just another energy plan, languishing on the web. We would like to see this plan presented to Democratic senators, congressmen, and candidates nationwide. We'd like their feedback, but we'd also like their commitment.
When we can post a list of Democratic senators and congressmen who have agreed to take this fight into the halls of the capital, then we will have carried this plan as far as we can go. Then it will be up to them.
Right now, it's up to you.