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written in collaboration with Meteor Blades and Jerome a Paris, with a hat tip to Doolittle Sothere and the dozens of others who have contributed to this plan.

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.

In formulating the second draft of the plan, Meteor Blades refined the ideas of the initial plan into something both campaign and congress ready.  He broke it down into three approaches:

  1. 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.

  2. Brief paragraphs that extend the initial statements, and are more suitable to flyers and press releases.

  3. A set of proposed legislation that acts to bring the goals of the plan into realization.

The first two items are desperately important.  If we can't phrase the goals and ideas behind the plan effectively, it will never get off the ground.  However, it's the third item that differentiates this plan from all the other very good efforts now being made, including those of the Apollo Alliance and the Natural Resource Defense Council.  It  even set's this plan beyond the proposals made by Sen. Harry Reid. These plans, and others now appearing almost daily, set laudable goals, and it's extremely gratifying to see that energy, so long ignored, is not properly recognized as the root cause for many of  today's most difficult issues.  However, recognizing the issue and calling for change is only the first step, and too many of these plans seem unwilling to take step two.  They give little sense of the sacrifices and tradeoffs needed to achieve their targets.

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.

In order to make this process more effective, we kindly ask you to keep your comments, as much as possible, on the meat of the document and not on a more general discussion on energy; thankfully,.

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

Energize America is based on these statements of direction:

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

Together, these are our SMART goals. SMART, because they are Strategic, Measurable, Aggressive, Realistic and Targeted.  They are

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

In the first month, the tax would be only one cent, barely noticeable, but with gasoline consumption at 320,500,000 per day, that single cent would generate almost ten million dollars a month for energy research.  In two months, that would double.  At the end of a year, the act would be bringing over a hundred million dollars a month for energy research.  

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.

Electrical Generation

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.

9. Renewable Portfolio Standards Act
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.

12. Home Improvement Credit Act
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.

15. Federal Energy Policy Enforcement Act
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.

Originally posted to Devil's Tower on Sun Nov 06, 2005 at 06:32 PM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  For the fusion folks (4.00)
    Just so you don't think I'm completely slamming fusion's potential, here's an article with updated information on Focused Fusion's promising hydrogen-boron technique.

    Believe me, I hope every hopeful thing their founder suggests comes to pass, but you'll have to excuse me if I plan as if these guys are going to fail.

    Political Cortex -- Brain food for the body politic.

    by Mark Sumner on Sun Nov 06, 2005 at 05:20:16 PM PST

    •  Thanks (none)
      for working so hard on this.  I truly believe this is an issue that we Democrats must make our own for the upcoming elections.  Many so called "swing voters" will really connect with the idea of energy independence.

      The Anti-Sam Brownback Blog
      Keep Senator Brownback out of the Whitehouse.

      by KansasNate on Sun Nov 06, 2005 at 05:55:22 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I want to add my thanks as well (none)
        I do not have a staff of analysists to do such research, so to find it here is welcome indeed.  I also think that fusion needs to be included.  The benefits of this technology make it too important to ignore in my opinion.  But again, thank you for this work!

        Indiana 6th District Congressional Candidate a campaign of three simple words "People Before Profits."

        by Barry Welsh on Sun Nov 06, 2005 at 10:09:18 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Fusion and the Plan (none)
      I still think this plan should have a section for fusion and other forward-thinking initiatives. It's wonderful that it's focused on what can be done now, but we simply can't ignore those long-term goals or the needed technologies will never materialize.

      It would be nice to think that renewables could provide all our power needs. But unfortunately, that would probably require coating Texas with PV cells or setting up windmills on every acre of land in the country.

      I shudder to think what it would take to give a US-style lifestyle to even ten billion humans with oil and coal fired electric generating plants. The greenhouse gasses alone would probably doom us to sea levels near the top of Washington's monument!

      So, put something in about fusion. A little goes a long way.

      Liberal Thinking

      Think, liberally.

      by Liberal Thinking on Sun Nov 06, 2005 at 08:35:51 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Fussion is simply too expensive and too (none)
        far off in the future to consider.  We need a renewables solution right now.

        Don't forget that at the end of the Permian Era, rising temperatures melted the permafrost after a 6 degree rise in global temps, which released massive amounts of methane from thawed pet bogs.  This greenhouse gas raised temps even more, releasing the methane stored in the OCEANS.  Temps then rose an additional 10 degrees to 30 degress Celsius, killing 95% of all life on Earth.

        We are already set to raise global temps by a similar 6 degree rise over the next century.  We need to turn things around with renewables research funding ASAP. Fusion would just compete for scarce energy research grants.

        •  Mixed Bag (none)
          Fusion should never take over the whole energy development budget, but it has a place. According to IEEE:

          Fusion should be developed as an element within a portfolio of long-term electrical energy generation technologies because of fusion's potential as an inexhaustible and environmentally attractive energy source.

          (See IEEE-USA Fusion Energy Research and Development.)

          People discount fusion because it seems to always be coming and never arriving. But that's what happened to artificial intelligence. Nevertheless, AI morphed into expert systems and we are living with them every day.

          The fusion community has been making pretty steady, if slow, progress. Probably the latest is ITER (International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor), which is mostly funded in Europe (with contributions from Russia, China, the US and others).

          We ought to at least support fusion to the extent that the IEEE does. That's not asking for much.

          There's also a real political issue involved in this. If we let these kinds of technologies be developed by other countries, then we may see them leapfrog us when they do come to fruition. The same applies to the space program, stem cell research, and a host of other technologies.

          Everyone is fine to include solar power in the plan. But the truth is that solar power hasn't made any greater strides than fusion. Right now, you can get power off the grid for as little as 6 cents per kilowatt-hour. Solar averages about 12 cents when amortized properly. It just isn't cost effective enough to compete with fossile fuel strictly on market dynamics. (The exception is during peak demand. But even with all of that the only reason anyone on the grid considers putting in solar power is because it is heavily subsidized by the government.) And the cost decline has been very, very slow for at least two decades. At the current rate of decline, it could be another ten years before solar is cost competitive with power from fossile fuels.

          (I'm not dumping on solar, either. I really want it to take off. I have a product waiting in the wings for when it is truly cost-effective. And it has other very positive aspects. Just by presenting an alternative it can help keep the overall costs of power down. Also, it provides ballast in the system that helps keep price spikes down. If there's enough solar installed it makes it harder for energy companies to take us to the cleaners when demand spikes.)

          Anyone who thinks that fusion is a red herring, but that solar (or wind power, for that matter) is going to save us, is in for a rude awakening when they look at the real costs, both financial and environmental. (For one thing, most of the solar power generated now is stored in lead acid batteries. Need I say more?) All of these alternative energy sources are still research programs.

          And fusion has one benefit that none of the others has. When it scales up, it really scales up! The cost of fuel for a given amount of energy produced must be far greater than any other source of energy. How much energy would a gallon of oil produce? How much would a gallon of liquid hydrogen fully converted to helium? I'm sure that the comparision is ridiculous.

          Liberal Thinking

          Think, liberally.

          by Liberal Thinking on Mon Nov 07, 2005 at 10:19:31 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  your feedback appreciated on v4... (none)
          I would like to discuss Energize v4 with you, but can't find your email address on your diary page.  Please email me at gkarayannis at hotmail dot com to discuss.  Thanks.

          Demand Energy Security by 2020!

          by Doolittle Sothere on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 07:26:28 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  Fusion (none)
        Should be a part of more funding for advanced scientific research but not part of an energy program. The technology seems to be perpetually "just a decade a way".

        Fear is the main source of superstition, and one of the main sources of cruelty. To conquer fear is the begining of wisdom. ---Bertand Russell

        by leeroy on Sun Nov 06, 2005 at 09:52:26 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  See Above (none)
          I mixed your reply in with the one to Sherlock Google because they seem to fit together. Suffice to say that I think all of this involves research.

          Population is still growing. Not only are there more humans, but every one of them has increased expectations for a decent standard of living because they can now readily see how the other half lives.

          This means that we need to think a little bit outside the box when it comes to energy. We can't just make a few nips and tucks to get out of this mess. The ice caps are melting. Anyone who lives within a hundred feet of sea level ought to be alarmed by that.

          So, a long-term strategy is prudent, even if it takes a few dollars away from short-term solutions.

          Liberal Thinking

          Think, liberally.

          by Liberal Thinking on Mon Nov 07, 2005 at 10:30:16 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  wiki (none)
      Just to point out the obvious... this sort of iterative project would work best on a wiki. dKos has one installed, why not use it?

      George W. Bush does not want you to read the above...

      by mbryan on Mon Nov 07, 2005 at 12:51:16 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I heart wiki (none)
        I absolutely agree that this would be a much better means of systematically beating the issues to death.  My concern would be the eyeball count.

        Would it work to put the issues on the wiki, let people address and refine them there, and then bring them back in front of the general audience as we're doing today?  What do you think?

        Political Cortex -- Brain food for the body politic.

        by Mark Sumner on Mon Nov 07, 2005 at 06:44:10 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  duplicate (none)
          put a duplicate on the wiki linked from the diary and let people directly modify with moderation there. They can do thier commenting and conceptual critiques in the thread of the diary. You are certainly right that a diary will get more eyeballs and you shouldn't abandon doing them, but the actual editing would be easier at the wiki.

          George W. Bush does not want you to read the above...

          by mbryan on Mon Nov 07, 2005 at 03:07:14 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  Reshaping Our Cities to Conserve (none)
      The proposal should address sprawl in one way or another, as it is possibly the greatest factor of energy waste our nation has ever known.

      Simply by shifting our regulatory and urban planning models from sprawl to livable communities with diversified transportation options, we allow people to live closer to their regular destinations, thus reducing both energy consumption and pollution.

      If you would like assistance drafting this potion of the document, please email me.

      •  We'd like to (none)
        My father has been a city administrator since I was in fourth grade (which was a long, long... long time ago), so I've heard endless speculation on city planning and zoning.  And I've seen decades of results.

        However, there are at least as many issues in space planning as their are in energy generation.  I'm not sure it can be shoehorned into the same plan.  Maybe because not enough of the public would understand the relationships, or maybe because Jerome, Meteor Blades, and I are already scrambling to keep up with what we have.

        Political Cortex -- Brain food for the body politic.

        by Mark Sumner on Mon Nov 07, 2005 at 06:42:36 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Tip jar (none)

    Child abuse, terrorism, greed, pollution, discrimination, war, rape and the nuclear brink. Disrespect is the matrix. Respect is the vision that we need to see.

    by respectisthecentralissue on Sun Nov 06, 2005 at 05:20:33 PM PST

  •  hey, i loved Re-energize Merka (none)
    wha' hoppin' to the "re" from last week?????
    (like in take back, or reinvent, or recharge your battery!)
    •  Dropping the "re" (none)
      The consensus of the folks who posted last time was to cut the "re" and just go with "Energize."  After some debate among the three of us, we agreed with this one the "punchier and fits better on a bumper sticker" principle.

      Let's see how many people lobby for the return of re.

      Political Cortex -- Brain food for the body politic.

      by Mark Sumner on Sun Nov 06, 2005 at 05:33:37 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  i can see it both ways. (none)
        without the re, y'all might be more repub-proof,ie, not as much backspin jokes...cuz it sounds forward thinking.
        but, the re does seem like 'happy days are here again' with the dems.
        your call.
      •  the re (none)
        My vote - drop the re. America has never had a comprehensive energy policy, so there is nothing re about it.

        Besides, Re-energizing implies that we have no energy now, which leads to the stigma of the Carter so-called 'malaise' specter. Best avoid implying that America's best times are behind us.

        George W. Bush does not want you to read the above...

        by mbryan on Mon Nov 07, 2005 at 01:00:36 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Here is something pertinent to the energy subject (none)
    That I just noticed for the first time today:

    Fuel's paradise? Power source that turns physics on its head.

    Here is the company  that is doing it:


    Maybe a scam, but if so, a very legitimate-looking one

    •  I'll believe this one... (none)
      when I see it, and I'm going to have to see it twice.  Believe me, I so want it to be true, but at the moment everything about this screams "scam."

      I keep getting Pons and Fleischman flashbacks when I read the articles on the "hydrino."

      Political Cortex -- Brain food for the body politic.

      by Mark Sumner on Sun Nov 06, 2005 at 05:48:55 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I have the same inititial inclination, but (none)
        check out the technical presentation  they list on their website that they supposed gave  at the Fall 2005 ACS (American Chemical Society?) Meeting, which is a refereed scientific meeting.
        •  That doesn't mean anything (none)
          A lot of big scientific conferences are un-refereed, meaning that anybody can submit a talk abstract (assuming you pay the registration fee, of course). The American Physical Society has an entire session at its annual meeting on Cold Fusion. For the morbidly curious, the list of cold fusion abstracts from last year can be found here:

          I sat in on a few of the talks; it was rather surreal.


        •  Not everything at the ACS (none)
          is refereed.  

          They really need solid peer-reviewed publications.

          It's fun to think that 40 or 50 years of work can be overturned just like that, but it is highly, highly unlikely.  Not impossible, but it has to be left to the experts now.

          •  It Depends (none)
            If that 62 slide presentation was an oral talk given in a special  symposium in the Fuel section, it was probably reviewed beforehand.

            If it was part of a commercial/vender display, probably not.

            Maybe someone with access to the 230th ACS Abstract  book/meeting program organizer cd (or who went to this very large national meeting) can find out what kind of presentation this hydrino slide show was.  

            On your first point, both the Guardian story and their website indicate the main guys  have some 60+ articles on the general subject published/in press in referreed journals.

            •  I'm not sure. (none)
              I think peole organizing sessions can ask their friends/postdocs, students/  to talk if they think the ideas are worth discussing - speaking there does not, I believe, carry the imprimatur of peer review.
            •  An old story? (none)
              Re Mills from the Village Voice, 1999:

              "It's the American story," says Dr. Robert Park of the American Physical Society. "But he's still wrong."

              Park has concluded that the hydrino theory is wrong in his upcoming book, Voodoo Science: The Road From Foolishness to Fraud. Park is not alone is being rankled by hydrinos. The hydrogen atom is the simplest, most common, and most tested element. It's nearly universally agreed that a free-floating hydrogen atom is in what's called "the ground state"--you can't bring its electron closer into its nucleus. Telling physicists that they've got that wrong is like telling mothers across America that they've misunderstood apple pie. It's that fundamental.

              "If you could fuck around with the hydrogen atom, you could fuck around with the energy process in the sun. You could fuck around with life itself," claims Dr. Phillip Anderson, a Nobel laureate in physics at Princeton University. "Everything we know about everything would be a bunch of nonsense. That's why I'm so sure that it's a fraud."

              Dr. Michio Kaku, a theoretical physicist based at City University of New York, adds that "the only law that this business with Mills is proving is that a fool and his money are easily parted." Kaku is a cofounder of "string"-field theory, which posits that all matter and energy are actually manifestations of vibrations occurring in 11 dimensions. String-field theory, considered radical when it was introduced, is now pretty much the only game in town for mainstream physicists seeking a grand unified theory."

              Mills resonse, which consists in making fun of physics, is fatuous.

      •  If this is a scam.... (none)
        It's the most elaborate scam that I've ever seen in my life!

        Having said that, I wish them the best while preapring as if it were a scam...

        •  When cold fusion was first announced... (4.00)
          my boss at the time was the world's foremost coal geologist.  For fifty years, he'd explored for coal, done research on coal, run the coal section at the geological survey, and worked as a consultant for mining firms.

          When the annoucement came of cold fusion, he literally cried.  "Thank God," he said.  "We don't have to do this anymore."  When it gradually became clear that it was all a mistake, if not an outright hoax, he was heartsick.

          This time, I'm going to hold my enthusiasm until round 2.

          Political Cortex -- Brain food for the body politic.

          by Mark Sumner on Sun Nov 06, 2005 at 06:18:10 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  As I understand it... (none)
        Quantum mechanics does not preclude the possibility of cold fusion.  It just says the the event would be so rare that you could never produce useful power.  Quantum mechanics does say that the existence of the hydrino is impossible.  The fact that they cannot produce any of this ultra-stable waste product screams scam pretty loudly.
        •  Not cold fusion (none)
          The technology in this case supposedly reduces the spacing between proton and electron -- which opens all sorts of holes in quantum.

          Political Cortex -- Brain food for the body politic.

          by Mark Sumner on Mon Nov 07, 2005 at 06:33:56 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  AFAIK, that would require... (none)
            ... that they have a replacement for the wave function equation.  When I took physical chem, the hydrogen atom was one of the few things you could solve analytically.  That solution said the ground state you normally see is as low as you can go.
      •  Seconded (none)
        Especially since a similar argument (hydrogen atom energy states "below" ground state) was advanced as a semi-serious hypothesis for cold fusion during that brouhaha.

        If you can create such a state of hydrogen, without somehow magically fiddling with the charge of the nucleus or something like that, then quantum mechanics is simply wrong.  That's because the hydrogen atom's energy levels are one of the few things easily calculated exactly with quantum mechanics (well, OK, "easily" by the standards of physicists :-).  You simply don't have lower energy levels -- it's a constraint of the mathematics, much like conservation of energy and momentum in classical physics.

        If you have a theory to replace a theory that's "wrong", you must explain all the original theory's successful results with your new theory.  The hydrino folks claim to have calculations for the energy states of other atoms, but that's only a tiny fraction of the natural world that quantum mechanics explains successfully.  I want to see their explanation of this famous (and only recently) resolved problem.  Its resolution requires the conventional understanding of quantum mechanics, with eigenfunctions and superpositions and all that jazz.

        Environmentalist dinosaurs worried about the new iridium-enriched reactors. "If they blow," they said, "only the cockroaches and the mammals will survive..."

        by ColoRambler on Mon Nov 07, 2005 at 08:10:43 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  high temperature nuclear reactors (none)
      I'm surprised that the section on nuclear power didn't more clearly lay out the technology basis for test-bed new generation nuke generators.

      The best technology currently is arguably high temperature pebble bed reactors. They operate at the highest potential heat output of the fuel, so there is no possibility of 'melt down'. The 'pebbles' are manufactured to contain the spent fuel, so disposal and waste issues are kicked down the road and manageable, though not solved. Such reactors are much smaller scale, not needing massively redundant containment or cooling systems, they can be used for micro-generation purposes and in a scalar fashion.

      If America is ever going to go back into the business of building nuclear reactors it should be with some variant of this technology. 'Energize America' should head off any move to building new old-style rod and coolant design reactors by diverting all efforts into such newer and safer plant designs.

      George W. Bush does not want you to read the above...

      by mbryan on Mon Nov 07, 2005 at 01:10:23 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Sorry the safety of Pebble Nukes is a myth (none)
        AND they have NO containment buildings.  The only large-scale reactor was shut down by the Germans in 1986 for being unsafe after it caught fire and contaminated a 2 km radius around the plant.

        The problem is that every pebble must 100% perfect.  One was not and got jammed in the feeder mechanism, resulting in a graphite fire.

        I have posted elsewhere on this thread the danger in Pebble nukes.

        Do your homework next time and Google a bit before you suggest unsafe nukes for the future.

        •  China seems to disagree with you (none)
          on Pebble-bed nuclear reactors

          They are making a big push to upgrade their energy grid with mass produced pebble-bed reactor power plants, which produce as a bonus byproduct, hydrogen gas on site by radiolysis/thermolysis of H2O.

          Let a Thousand Reactors Bloom

          But they're also pursuing a second, more audacious course. Physicists and engineers at Beijing's Tsinghua University have made the first great leap forward in a quarter century, building a new nuclear power facility that promises to be a better way to harness the atom: a pebble-bed reactor. A reactor small enough to be assembled from mass-produced parts and cheap enough for customers without billion-dollar bank accounts. A reactor whose safety is a matter of physics, not operator skill or reinforced concrete. And, for a bona fide fairy-tale ending, the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow is labeled hydrogen.

          A soft-spoken scientist named Qian Jihui has no doubt about what the smaller, safer, hydrogen-friendly design means for the future of nuclear power, in China and elsewhere. Qian is a former deputy director general with the International Atomic Energy Agency and an honorary president of the Nuclear Power Institute of China. He's a 67-year-old survivor of more than one revolution, which means he doesn't take the notion of upheaval lightly.

          "Nobody in the mainstream likes novel ideas," Qian says. "But in the international nuclear community, a lot of people believe this is the future. Eventually, these new reactors will compete strategically, and in the end they will win. When that happens, it will leave traditional nuclear power in ruins."

        •  I hate to belabor the obvious (none)
          but 1986 was 20 years ago. We've come a long way baby.

          George W. Bush does not want you to read the above...

          by mbryan on Mon Nov 07, 2005 at 03:09:06 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  manufacturing (none)
            oh, yeah. And manufacturing has come a long way in the last twenty years. You know that thing that you are writing your Luddite critiques on? All the components are incredible complex and require very high manufacturing tolerances to work at all. We do that fairly routinely now...

            George W. Bush does not want you to read the above...

            by mbryan on Mon Nov 07, 2005 at 03:12:34 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

  •  regarding government buildings (4.00)
    According to their own critieria ALL new GSA buildings are supposed to meet a high level of Electrical and Mechanical system performances.  This is required because since 2003 all new buildings ARE SUPPOSED to be LEED Certified.  (LEED Certification stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design and is run by the US Green Building Council)

    The LEED system has requirements for minimum energy performance as well as points available for use of renewable energy, as well as many other environmental characteristics.

    This rule is not being followed.  As an architect I have worked on several GSA projects.  All were supposed to be LEED certified.  The problem is that the individual Project Managers from GSA get to use their discretion, and they have directions that are often counter indicating.  Project Manager are supposed to ensure that projects are finished at or under budget and receive financial compensation for doing so.  Unfortunately, congress sets the budgets ten years in the past for current building projects.  So in the past few years every building material has escalated in cost by enormous amounts.  To keep the project in budget the first thing to go are sophisticated energy monitoring systems, high efficiciency mechanical systems, raised floor air delivery, etc.  The financial incentives for the Project Managers need to be tied to producing efficient buildings, not just cheap (and I mean cheap in the worst way possible) buildings.

  •  I hope ... (none)
    ... this makes the rec list soon.

    Wish I could provide substantive critique but sleepytime is coming up for me. From here, though, it really is looking good.

  •  Excellent Start (4.00)
    There is a LOT of good thinking collected here and obviously a chunk of it comes from numerous groups, organizations and experts who have been watching in frustration as the current Administration simply ignores the problem and offers only one solution.....more drilling, more production, more refining and more consumption.

    A broad plan such as this, seems to me to be one element of what should be an overall Democratic program to Take Back America with bold new ideas for the 21st century spelled out in concrete action plans.

    I have just a couple of comments.

    First, I think it is imperative that part of any energy plan involving the setting of auto mileage standards concentrate at least a part of its effort on developing relatively accurate figures and the real gas mileage of individual makes and models.  I drive a Prius.  I don't care what you drive, but the one thing you and I have in common that the mileage figures being touted by the manufacturer for our particular cars are not close to realistic.

    Prius, for example, advertises 60 mpg as the top end.  You can start to approach that under ideal conditions, but I defy you to find anyone other than a unique fanatic who is using every trick in the book to actually get 60 mpg on a consistent basis.

    The task isn't all that difficult.  Relatively inexpensive computer units can be placed in a select number of a few hundred cars of a given make/model and information collected.  The AVERAGE city/highway results generated after x months become the figure the manufacturer can use and one which buyers can accurately rely on when trying to make purchase decisions.

    My second point is that this plan, for all its strengths, fails to take one very important step -- recognize that the energy challenge is NOT just an American is global.

    On that basis, the US should be reaching out to countries like China, Japan, India, Brazil, Australia......the centers of scientific research ....and encouraging the pooling of research to find innovative solutions to energy problems.

    At their core, vehicles are vehicles....a means of propulsion of some sort, a set of wheels and steering device, and a place for passengers to sit.  Beyond that the rest of it is function and styling.   An international design consortium could pool the best minds from around the world to develop innovative new approaches to powering cars, trucks, trains and busses and manufacturing with the least impact on the environment in terms of materials and life-cycle recycling, and then lease the technology to manufacturers worldwide (with some of the profits being spun back into more research.)

    In addition, these research centers can concentrate on smaller, but equally vital projects which don't get much attention but are desperately needed:

    One third world countries, the bulk of cooking is done by combustion of organic materials.  As a result, hillsides are denuded, encouraging soil erosion and filling watercourses with silt, and the air is polluted.  Researchers could instead concentrate on developing alternative solutions using solar power and/or significantly improving the efficiency and reducing the pollution generated by traditional cooking methods.  High efficiency solar and wind generation can also provide fuel.

    Best of all, encouraging "coooperative" global approaches to global challenges like these helps bind us together in a world community as opposed to a worldwide competition.

    A far wiser leader than we have now should and would have begun his/her administration by calling for a global summit on issues like these and encouraging cooperation.  How refreshing would it be for our President to reach out to the world and say "We are all citizens of this planet and we must work together to avoid our own self-destruction from pollution, global warming and the threat of massive global conflicts generated by competition for finite resources.  Let us work together to find answers which make life better for all of us, and in the process create new jobs, a cleaner environment and a new sense of global citizenship and stewardship."

    But that would, of course, assume that our leaders cared about anything beyond power and profit.

    Keep up the good work.  Initiatives like this begin to give me hope that indeed we can craft a vision for the future that people can support and embrace instead of focusing so much on why this current administration is a threat to us all.

    The next challenge is how to move a document like this from the collective input of the Kos community and interested public interest groups and thinkers to a national and international forum where it can be translated into completed policy....and then action.  Our greatest strength, I will argue, is to support positive actions which remind all of us that America and the world do best when we work together.

    Free markets would be a great idea, if markets were actually free.

    by dweb8231 on Sun Nov 06, 2005 at 06:55:38 PM PST

    •  The international angle (none)
      I absolutely agree that we need a better test for mileage.  It happens that I also drive a Prius.  I don't get 60MPG.  Instead I get just a touch under 51MPG.  That's still very good, but you're right in saying that the tests currently used are not very reflective of real world driving.  I like the idea of having two different values to reflect expections of what urban and rural/suburban drivers might attain, but I'd certainly like to have a single, realistic value for average mileage through a set of "normal" conditions.  In fact, that's vital before any mileage-based bonuses could be put in place.

      As for the international angle, that's a little more problematic.  In an intermediate draft of this plan, there was quite a bit more call for international involvement.  For example, there was a section on making all nuclear plants subject to new regulations from the IAEA and standardizing requirements worldwide.  There was also a greater call for more cooperative research and development.

      I think it's not only a good idea, but vital.  However, it's not clear how viable internationalizing the plan would be politically, at least in the short term.

      Political Cortex -- Brain food for the body politic.

      by Mark Sumner on Sun Nov 06, 2005 at 07:20:55 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  If all you're getting is 50 MPG, (4.00)
        then that's roughly equivalent to what the best European diesels are getting. And you don't have to deal with replacing, and disposing of, the batteries.

        With the new low-sulphur diesel due soon, the environmental demerits of diesel will diminish substantially.

        Of course, it would be wonderful if American auto companies produced fuel-efficient diesels, which they don't yet.

        Re: nuclear power, the French seem to do it quite well, at least in terms of operational safety and moderate cost. Here in America, leaving nuclear power to the tender mercies of the market has not worked out so well, especially in terms of cost.

        Re: solar, roof-shingle photovoltaics seems to me to be a great way to produce clean power almost everywhere in the world. Once the shingles are mass-produced, the extra cost should be negligible -- i.e., recoverable in a few years.

        The main thing is that renewable technologies need, and deserve, the kinds of subsidies that extractive technologies have received for decades. And your plan deals with that.

        Great diary, prodigious work, recommended.

        The Republicans want to cut YOUR Social Security benefits.

        by devtob on Sun Nov 06, 2005 at 07:59:06 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  solar shingles (none)
          "Re: solar, roof-shingle photovoltaics seems to me to be a great way to produce clean power almost everywhere in the world"

          This would be a great idea, to incorporate solar cells into common building material. Maybe a plug and play system to attach to your electrical system.

          •  Solar Shingles available (none)
            There are a number of companies making solar shingles, many of which are barely distinguishable from normal shingles.  Installation is trickier, as each shingle has to be wired into a harness.

            Many of the shingles are shiny enough that they still look odd, but there are some companies producing shingles that look darn near normal (and I  will link to them, as soon as get my PC to stop acting weird)

            Political Cortex -- Brain food for the body politic.

            by Mark Sumner on Sun Nov 06, 2005 at 08:58:01 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Please do, a friend of mine (none)
              is a roofing contractor, working for NYC-second-home types in Columbia County who can afford to pay more and would politically like to make such a statement.

              The Republicans want to cut YOUR Social Security benefits.

              by devtob on Mon Nov 07, 2005 at 04:52:24 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

      •  International Progress (none)
        I propose language in the research sections that mention international cooperation.  Do not put in anything specific ("Promise to share", "x% will come from...) but indicate a willingness to share results and direction.  
  •  Too many acts (none)
    Getting even one bill through congress is difficult. Getting several through is an open invitation to having both stonewalling and larding with amendments.

    Write one act, separate it into titles, and pass it once. This is the way to get landmark legislation through.

    •  Likely true (none)
      However, I loathe omnibus legislation, and I fear that putting the items together makes it much easier to plan one against the other, or hide pork between the cracks.

      I'd rather get each piece polished up, then let those who have to actually bring it to the floor decide how many boxes are required.

      Political Cortex -- Brain food for the body politic.

      by Mark Sumner on Sun Nov 06, 2005 at 07:23:05 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  still (none)
        i would collapse it into say 10 bills or foci or bullet points or whatever at max. s.

        the best lack all conviction while the worst are full of passionate intensity --w.b.yeats the second coming

        by synth on Sun Nov 06, 2005 at 08:57:52 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Changing anything that involves human behavior is (none)
    very difficult.  You might consider embedding the policy in a context which addresses some of the worries about implementing the policy - e.g., changing people's perceptions, behavior, retooling companies, etc.  This policy needs a vast amount of buy-in, and I'm uneasy seeing it stated as though that isn't the make or break issue.

    Here are some things that some good theories of institutional change would stress:

    1.  instilling a sense that change is needed.
    2.  identifying change agents.
    3.  leadership and vision.
    4.  short term goals.
    5.  quantifiable measures of change.

    Anyway, see if you can make anything of this.  I'm always struck by the advice, which comes from Harvard's Business School, that the formalized structural changes come last.
    •  Instill a sense (none)
      First, this is an awesome plan.  It shows many hours of research and work.

      JPete, as a fellow follower of Harvard Business school, may I elaborate on your comments:

      1. Instill a sense that change is needed - the Right has done this so well - i.e. gay marriage, abortion, Iraq, now immigration.  We must get the masses behind this, make them think it's their idea, personal to them, etc. The old WIIFM - what's in it for me?

      2.Identify change agents - not congress, do #1, change agents will be grassroots Americans who care about the future of this country

      3.Leadership and vision - the plan is the "vision" leadership will come from buy-in from our elected leaders, everyday Americans, progressive businesses that are tired of the status quo and see the folly of the large oil companies continuing to reap all the profits and holding the American people as slaves to their products.

      3. Short term goals - they're there. Maybe more info on the short term gains associated with the shorter term items.  

      4.Quantifiable measures of change.  One idea may be to show where we are now, where we will be in 5 years with and without the first 5 years of the plan. As far as that goes, where will we, the world, the oil companies, etc. be if nothing is done or with the current energy bill. Show this for each 5 year period.  The major shock would be at the 20 year mark, but, by breaking it down into measurable results on a 5, 10, 15, 20 and beyond basis, everyone can digest and accept the proposals.

    •  Doesn't apply in this particular policy arena, (none)
      Americans already overwhelmingly support renewable energy and in fact have gross misperceptions about how much we're already producing - my firm has seen polls that show the average American thinks we already get 20% of our energy from renewables. And much of the change is technological in nature, requiring little to no adjustjment at the end user; through utility demand side management programs, for example, we could reduce national energy demand by up to 25% using existing technologies. But utilities HATE efficiency, ass all they know how to do is burn more rocks to make more profits.

      The problem here is resistance from entrenched interests. That is the real hurdle to policy implementation. Energy includes the ugliest of the nastiest of the meanest of all the lobby interests and corporate malcreants.

      All's we gotta do is beat them; the body politic is already there.

      I am the federal government.

      by mateosf on Sun Nov 06, 2005 at 09:30:20 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I am not sure you are right (none)
        The policy opens by mentioning the needs, but rames them in a criticism of congress.  So it's positioning itself as a piece in a political contest.  This is to an electorate that increasingly thinks the government is useless, corrupt, ineffective.

        It would be, INHO, much more powerful to position it as a call to action by emphasizing that these are the country's needs and forgetting about past ineffectual action.

  •  This is amazing ... (none)
    So, agenda for getting the Democratic Party leadership to sign up in mass?

    Will print out and look at in detail in coming days.

  •  Sweating details ... (4.00)
    This is amazing stuff (as comment above) but one might start questioning or sweating details, wondering whether there are things that will fall in place or whether these merit coverage in such a document.

    Here, for example, are some items that I (personally) find quite intriquing and am unsure of the answer related to solar energy applications:

    •  Home owners associations: represent one of the largest roadblocks to solar power installations in the domestic market -- the vast majority ban solar power structures and it has been quite hard to get any to relent.

    •  Once into 'installation' regime, a key obstacle exists -- few inspectors have a clue about solar.  From a contact at the NAHB, the line from major builders is that they don't want to offer solar as an option because it would create delays as inspectors wouldn't know what they're doing.  (And, from personal experience, the solar installer went back and had to change 'to the wrong way' my solar hot water heating to satisfy an inspector -- came back and did it right (spending an hour to explain 'right' to me) after the inspector signed off on everything.)  For builders and contractors solar spells delay and therefore increased costs ...

    •  States authorize (require) the buy back of power from homeowners at retail rates -- what actually happens with these installations is that many local utilities drag their feet as long as possible since most view this as simply a losing proposition (they have to pay retail rates for something that they are buying, they have costs associated with this, etc ... they lose money doing this).  Know of cases where it took over a year to actually get that hook up.

    •  RE large policy level issues, when comparing nuclear power with other options, there is generally one item that doesn't make it to the table -- the nuke industry basically has governments picking up nearly 100% of the insurance tab -- solar installers and companies, however, pay market rates for insurance.  Put everyone on the same level for insurance rates and the solar-nuclear equation looks quite different.

    Okay, except for the last, all of these are 'minor' / in-the-weeds issues.  In today's America, the first three are providing real-world road-blocks that inhibit a faster growth of renewable energy in our society.  Not sure that these merit discussion in "Energize America" ... but maybe specifics fit somewhere in an umbrella here.
    •  These first two problems (4.00)
      I like, because they can be fixed.  To solve the first issue takes nothing more than the guts to "make it so."  Look at communications.  No mater how badly your home owners association might hate some line-of-sight data dish, they can't do anything about it.  Federal law requires that they bend their rules to accommodate data transmission structures to improve competition.  If the legislation required home owners associations to allow solar roofs, then by jiminy, they've have to allow them (and hey, wouldn't a regulation that enforced just that be worthwhile on its own?).

      The problems with installation come down to experience.  The first ten thousand folks will probably see all too much of their solar guys.  After that, it'll be old hat.  Which isn't to say you can't get someone bad at just about anything.  Remind me to tell the story of the gaping 4' hole the chimney folks left in my roof.  For a month.

      The problem with the buy back plans is not only do the utilities drag their feet, many states don't have a buy back requirement at all.  By federalizing the rules, and imposing penalties for noncompliant utilities, it should smooth out the process.

      Yes, if solar and wind could actually play on a level field with nuclear, coal, oil, and gas, things would be a lot different.  I suspect a lot of this plan could be funded simply by stopping the funds the government now slots toward already profitable industries.

      Political Cortex -- Brain food for the body politic.

      by Mark Sumner on Sun Nov 06, 2005 at 08:24:16 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Problem (none)
        It's kind of a catch-22.  As long as wind and solar supply less than 1% to the grid, the government--even a liberal one--is not going to be inclined to do these resources big economic favors.

        As it is, wind and solar receive a disproportionate amount of funding in relation to their output.  I approve of that because I want every emissions-free resource possible.

        Nuclear power is providing most of the emissions-free electricity.

        Just bringing in the real world here.

        •  Plan9, you are are completely non-credible (none)
          Please provide data showing "disproportionate funding" for wind and solar. You make this stuff up, Plan9, and it's getting beyond unacceptable. You have never - not once - provided proof for any of your statements.

          Wind power is competing quite nicely, thanks, without much in the way of largesse. And I spoke to a Price-Andersen attorney who knows a little about nukes, and your dream of a nuclear future is a total fallacy - unless Americans agree to pour tens of billions of dollars into subsidized boondoggles.

          Put up or shut up, dude.

          I am the federal government.

          by mateosf on Sun Nov 06, 2005 at 09:38:50 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  mateo - Jerome's plan was hijacked (4.00)
            by the pro-nukers who post here on KOS--and who I believe are paid by the nuclear industry as part of the new Pebble Nuke PR Push.

            You and I need to counter this proposal by eliminating Act 13 and 14 and adding the breakthroughs in renewables and policy that could bring the renewables over 30% by 2020.  Then the plan's called for expansion of nuclear and coal could be avoided with the conservation measures already advocated by Jerome.

            See my posts way down-thread.

            •  Agreed - the problem I have with Plan9 (none)
              is that he is so disconnected from reality on this. Nukes will completely suck the life out of any plan because they require so damn much taxpayer subsidy. If they could make it on their own, I'd think differently, but there's no way the industry will risk its own money, and the many, many billions in subsidies they need will dry up the pot for more viable and more rapidly available options.

              I'm less worried about the nuke language if they make certain that nukes may only receive subsides for power they actually generate; that's the way it works for renewables. If they want research money, go raise it on the capital markets like everyone else has to. But I'll be damned if any R&D funds go to nukes when we don't provide them for wind or solar.

              Next steps, maybe take it offline?

              I am the federal government.

              by mateosf on Sun Nov 06, 2005 at 09:54:34 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

            •  Please note (none)
              That while I'm an admitted coal guy (I've diaried about it often enough), none of us are involved in the nuclear industry.  And if I'm supposed to have gotten a bribe along the way, I need to talk to my mailman.

              The plan does not call for an expansion of either coal or nuclear.  In fact, it calls for a significant reduction in the percentage that either of these sources contribute and several new regulations for both production and generation.  Further, while you're talking about "expanding coal in West Virginia," the plan explicitly outlaws valley fill mining, which includes both contour strip and mountain top removal.  How does that equate to expansion of mining in West Virginia, the principle site of these practices?

              In fact, the plan puts in place nothing but "sticks" for the coal industry.  The only thing that might be read as a "carrot" is the proposal to build demonstration gasification facilities, and the only reason that's in there is to see that this facilities are built to the highest possible standards, including carbon sequestration.  You could leave this out, I suppose, but seeing as how the largest coal company in the country has already announced a partnership to build gasification plants, and governors of several states are begging for the things, it's hard for me to see how removing language designed to set strict limits on these plants makes things better.

              Political Cortex -- Brain food for the body politic.

              by Mark Sumner on Sun Nov 06, 2005 at 10:00:14 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Plan9 is likely a nuke lobbyist, (4.00)
                not sure how much influence he had on the piece. He lurks in these energy diaries and makes up a buunch of hooey about nukes, and belittles renewables - SOP for the nuclear lobby, it's straight from their P.R. materials.

                I should premise the rest of my input by saying this is a very, very impressive compilation you've made here.

                The only problem I have with the coal portion is that Congress has already done this. The energy bill included huge subsidies for gasification, allowing for several demonstration projects that are currently under way - if your plan gets enacted, it would essentially be double-dipping for the coal guys. And, just FYI, there is no such thing as carbon sequestration. It's an unproven theory; a couple of tests ongoing, but not something to write a piece of legislation around - especially when there are proven solutions that are far cheaper and can be implemented much more rapidly.

                I think that the most elegant energy solution - the one that allows the market to function, does not pick winners, and requires minimal subsidies - is a carbon tax. Let everyone battle it out, tax the crap out of all carbon emissions (no cap and trade!), and ban all new sources of NOx and SOx.

                Then all you have to do is enforce the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts, as written. Renewables and efficiency win in a landslide. It wouldn't even really be a fair fight.

                On the oil side, the solution here will be pain. Americans have to fundamentally change the way we exist, there is no fuel alternative that will be ready in time. It's in the works, but we can't bio-fuels or Fischer-Tropsch our way out of this one. Hydrogen is the eventual cure, but in the interim, there is no policy solution - so I think trying to address this the way you have is a mistake. We have got to start warning people that they will not be able to drive as much as they like, plain and simple. And the way to do this is to be direct - no politician in recent memory has confronted the American people with the eventuality that every American is at least somewhat aware of: we will run out of oil.

                Any plan that does not include this kind of concerted educational component is setting itself up for disaster, and for being undermined by our enemies. It's time for an energy policy that levels with the American people; our current predicament is the natural result of 100 years of magical unrealism about our ability to suck fossilized energy out of the earth for eternity.

                I am the federal government.

                by mateosf on Sun Nov 06, 2005 at 11:44:27 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  Actually, I'd turn this on it's head (none)
                  And say that hydrogen is no solution at all.  Hydrogen is just a dodge that puts off transportation solutions for another decade, requires an investment of tens (if not hundreds) of billions to revise the infrastructure, and ultimately leaves transportation fuel in the same hands that have so badly bungled oil.  Already, forces in the oil industry and congress are lining up to make those 'pefectly understandable investments' to bring hydrogen to your local gas station.  Understandable in that the oil companies will need 'a little help.'  As a bonus, there are still technical hurdles to be overcome before hydrogen-based cars could ever be sold at a reasonable price.

                  Energy expended in transportation accounts for 40% of our total energy ticket.  When you add in the losses involved in hydrogen generation, you need more than a 60% increase in electrical capacity to generate that hydrogen from electrolysis.  That's about 250 billion kilowatthours per month  -- more than the total of all we now burn in coal.  Of course, you can get the hydrogen more effectively by cracking it from natural gas or coal, but then you're right back into the carbon problems.

                  To me, the perfect solution is exactly plug-in hybrids using biofuels.  Yes, it adds to the electric grid just as does hydrogen, but a new generation lithium battery (like Valance's saphion system) recharges with much less systemic loss than is involved in hydrogen generation, so you don't need (quite) as much new capacity as going hydrogen.  Plus, the primary energy source can be delivered without gifting the oil industry with a multi-billion dollar bail out.  Finally, by using biofuels for extended range travel, you reduce the demands on the electrical system, while providing no net increase in carbon emissions and a fuel that can be distributed from existing infrastructure.  And you could start building these cars today.

                  All that said -- it doesn't really matter.  The plan is designed to be technology neutral, rewarding any option that can reach the marketplace and put a dent in the current oil demand.  I'm not sure that it's clear above, but we regard the need for oil as the primary factor to be addressed.  If you were to read this in steps, step one would be: phase oil out of the system.

                  Political Cortex -- Brain food for the body politic.

                  by Mark Sumner on Mon Nov 07, 2005 at 06:03:50 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                •  I am not a lobbyist for anything... (none)
                  ...except Mother Earth.

                  And you?  Why all these conspiracy theories?  Didn't Devilstower invite comment? Didn't he post a section on nuclear energy?  How many renewables people posting stand to profit from their pet projects?

                  As I posted elsewhere on this diary, I am not paid by any faction, lobby, or industry, and I have no financial investments in the outcome of any form of energy production.

                  What interests me are the facts as backed up by peer-reviewed papers--not activist websites.

            •  Speaking of evidence... (4.00)

              You have any for the wild assertions that your opponents are payed hacks of the nuclear industry?

            •  Show us a way to get to ... (none)
              ...30% renewables by 2020. With specifics. The most aggressive energy plans on the planet, by countries that started the process a decade or more ago, don't come anywhere near that figure.
          •  He is correct. (none)

            From the DoE 2004 budget, renewables got $1.32 billion compared to about half that for fossil fuels.  This is while they still constitute a tiny percentage of the total US energy grid.

            •  You just busted yourself, RyoCokey - (none)
              Thanks for the link you just sent, you're proving my point. The "$1.32 billion for renewables" is actually for "renewables AND efficiency" - and if you even bothered to look at how DOE portions this money, far more R&D goes into efficiency than renewables because it's the "low hanging fruit," not to mention that venture capitalists are swarming around renewables and so they don't NEED government largesse.

              Also please note the ginormous subsidies for nukes - which, I'll point out, aren't being built, and haven't been built for 15 years (emphasis added):

              President Bush's budget plan for 2004 proposes a 5.9% increase for the Department of Energy, with the largest increases earmarked for nuclear power and weapons priorities. Clean coal technology and hydrogen fuel cells, both prominently featured in President Bush's State of the Union message, are duly recognized in the budget, but renewable energy and energy efficiency would see little new money or would face cuts. Environmental funding, likewise, does not fare well.

              The National Nuclear Security Administration would grab more than a third of the proposed $23.4 billion Department of Energy budget, for a total of $8.8 billion. The funds would be used primarily for nuclear weapons production, cleanup of domestic nuclear weapons sites, construction of a South Carolina plant to convert nuclear warhead material into power plant fuel, and building a nuclear fuel storage repository at Yucca Mountain, NV.

              On the non-nuclear side, the Department of Energy's budget request allocates $765.9 million to the Office of Fossil Energy (OFE). Included is $533.3 million for coal, oil, and natural gas research and development.

              The focus of the FY 2004 Fossil Energy program is exclusively on supporting three of the President's top energy and environmental initiatives: Clear Skies, Climate Change, and Energy Security, according to the OFE.

              Clean-Coal Research
              Specifically, the budget calls for $321 million for research into clean coal technology as part of a 10-year, $2 billion program outlined in the President's State of the Union address.

              Also included in the coal research budget is $62 million for continued research in carbon sequestration.

              Additional funds sought by the Office of Fossil Energy include $191.6 million for the Strategic Petroleum, Home Heating Oil Reserves, and Naval Petroleum Reserve, and $36 million in further settlement payments to California for the 1998 sale of the Elk Hills oil field.

              Hydrogen Fuel Cells
              Other DOE budget items include the development of hydrogen fuel-cells for cars and small power generators at $273 million in fiscal 2004, as part of a $1.5 billion, five-year program that President Bush revealed in his State of the Union message.

              Fusion research, specifically the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITRE), is put at a proposed $12 million in the 2004 budget.

              Many of the federal government's renewable energy and energy-efficiency research programs, however, would see little new money or would be cut under President Bush's proposed budget. Total research funding for the Energy Department's energy efficiency and renewable energy programs would increase just $1.3 million, or 0.1%, to $1.32 billion. Research money for wind energy would fall 5.5%, while solar energy funding would increase 0.1%, and hydropower research dollars would remain the same.

              Again, thanks for the link - but I doubt even your own research will get you to see the fallacy of nukes.

              I am the federal government.

              by mateosf on Mon Nov 07, 2005 at 09:23:28 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Certain amount of irony here. (none)

                hanks for the link you just sent, you're proving my point. The "$1.32 billion for renewables" is actually for "renewables AND efficiency" - and if you even bothered to look at how DOE portions this money

                Oh, I did.

                far more R&D goes into efficiency than renewables because it's the "low hanging fruit," not to mention that venture capitalists are swarming around renewables and so they don't NEED government largesse.

                You'll find the Renewable and Efficiency budget breakdown here (PDF)  The FEMP and the Industrial Technologies sections are the industrial efficiency part of the budget.  They come to $76 million out of the total $1.32 billion total.  Combined, they are less that the amount allocated to solar alone.

                •  I think all of this and the Energy Star (none)
                  Program are getting whacked in the "Operation Offset" budget reconcilaition bill passed last week and that is now in conference.
                •  Yes, well. (none)
                  You left out the little line item of the $310 million in that same budget for weatherization assistance - which, last I checked, is an efficiency line item.

                  Then there's the $11 million for solid state lighting - also not, to my recollection, a subsidy for solar or wind power.

                  Of course, you also left out the building technologies program, at $58 million; another efficiency line item.

                  Not to mention $12 million for combined heat and power research - again, an efficiency item.

                  And, of course, can't leave out $90 million for conservation program management - that's shorthand for demand side management efficiency programs.

                  Combined total of these efficiency line items (not comprehensive): $481 million

                  Total solar budget request: $84 million
                  Total wind power subsidy request: $44.2 million.

                  In other words, yeah, this is pretty ironic. Total subsidies for wind and solar are less than a third of the efficiency subsidies.

                  You should read the links you post before you post them, RyoCokey.

                  I am the federal government.

                  by mateosf on Mon Nov 07, 2005 at 11:31:10 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                •  Energy efficiency total (none)
                  is at the very bottom of the last page.

                  Total 2006 budget request for conservation/efficiency programs: $846 million

                  Total for solar: $83 million
                  Total for wind: $44 million.

                  I am the federal government.

                  by mateosf on Mon Nov 07, 2005 at 11:38:51 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  That's not all energy efficiency. (none)

                    Biomass, Fuel cells, and bureaucratic overhead all lump in.  But fine, let's use the total from the top listing, which puts total energy supply at $352 million.  That's still 63% of the total for fossil fuels (Assuming all of that goes to fossil fuels) while renewables make up a tiny fraction of the total energy grid.

                    Which was the original point we were arguing, that compared to the amount of energy they produced, they receive very large subsidies/R&D.

                    •  You have got to be joking. (none)
                      Wind and solar receive combined subsidies of $120 million.

                      Annual efficiency spending by the government is at least three times that.

                      You tried to pass off the claim that renewable subsidies were bigger than efficiency subsidies, which is a lie. If you tried to pass that off in a room filled with people who actually work in energy policy, they'd laugh out loud.

                      There is no one in the U.S. who can fully compute the amount of subsidies that go for fossil fuels, as there is no true cost accounting, but it is well into the hundreds of billions of dollars.

                      If you think that a $120 million subsidy for wind and solar power - or, put another way, about 0.5% of the marked-up subsidies in the $20 billion energy bill, and less than 0.02% if you include hidden subsidies that the fossil guys get - is "very large compared to the amount of energy they generate," then you can't be trying to make a rational argument, and so best of luck to you.

                      I am the federal government.

                      by mateosf on Mon Nov 07, 2005 at 12:58:59 PM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  You realize people can read the parents, right? (none)

                        You tried to pass off the claim that renewable subsidies were bigger than efficiency subsidies, which is a lie.

                        Excellent, quote my claim, then.  Everything in this thread is available to the general public. You should have no trouble at all going back and pulling out where I said that, then.  You were the one who said efficiency was larger, and started a long tangential argument.

                        You tried to pass off the claim that renewable subsidies were bigger than efficiency subsidies, which is a lie. If you tried to pass that off in a room filled with people who actually work in energy policy, they'd laugh out loud.

                        We're comparing R&D figures, which, minus the government grants, are what you'll find in the DoE budget.  Actual KwH subsidies are elsewhere, but, if I recall, total around 9.5 billion over 10 years.  The last line of that quote is an anonymous authority fallacy.

                        if you include hidden subsidies that the fossil guys get - is "very large compared to the amount of energy they generate," then you can't be trying to make a rational argument, and so best of luck to you.

                        You're the one attempting to make an argument off of "hidden subsidies."  Once you step outside direct funding, we can argue about what events indirectly influenced energy policy to the profit of one form over another for the next several decades!

                        You are taking all of this way too personally.  It only makes sense for developing power sources to have more R&D funding that mature ones.  Plan9 made a relatively uncontroversial assertion, and you jumped all over him for it, presumably because you have some prior history with him.  All I did was point out his minor point was indeed correct.

                        •  asdf (none)
                          It only makes sense for developing power sources to have more R&D funding that mature ones.  Plan9 made a relatively uncontroversial assertion

                          Asserting that renewables get subsidies out of proportion to the amount of power they generate is only uncontroversial if you don't care about the facts. As I pointed out, wind power is slated for $44 million next year. That's about the cost of 20 turbines, installed. Hardly a market-distorting subsidy.

                          My only real point in this is to make it clear that committing to publicly subsidized nukes is a huge financial boondoggle that will suck a whole lot of taxpayer money into a technology that can not make it on its own - money that, IMO, would be far better spent on efficiency programs, which could achieve the same results as building new nuclear power plants at less than a third of the cost.

                          If the U.S. committed the billions being spent on nuclear research to efficiency instead, we wouldn't need any new power plants, and could meet all future demand with non-subsidized renewables.

                          My passion about this - and I'll admit I get carried away - is due to our energy system's long and ignoble tradition of crony capitalism and corporate handouts, of which nuclear power is a prime participant. It is this system that is the sole cause of America's broader energy predicament, and continued reliance on a system of winner picking and absurdly large subsidies will not lead to the real solutions we need.

                          Fair comment on the "anonymous authority" fallacy.

                          I am the federal government.

                          by mateosf on Mon Nov 07, 2005 at 03:45:03 PM PST

                          [ Parent ]

                          •  Eh, fair enough. (none)

                            Although I would point out that nuclear power gets a great deal of its subsidy in part because of its military application.  Until we can power subs with solar power, or decimate cities with gigantic wind turbines, nuclear is going to benefit from the military largesse.

                          •  We'll launch giant, sharpened turbine blades (none)
                            from industrial-sized organic rubber slingshots and make throwing stars from silicon wafers ...

                            I am the federal government.

                            by mateosf on Tue Nov 08, 2005 at 11:48:30 AM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                  •  Let's not forget (none)
                    the zillion dollar highway bill. ALL OF IT is a susidy to the oil industry.

                    In the long run, we're all dead (Keynes)
                    Read more on the European Tribune - bringing dKos to Europe

                    by Jerome a Paris on Mon Nov 07, 2005 at 01:54:55 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

          •  As I have told you before... (none)
            I don't understand your need to use aggression in this discussion.  Let's let the facts speak for themselves.

            You can find a summary based on sources considered the most reliable in the energy industry.


            The document, which is backed up with plenty of citations generally considered reliable, makes the following points:

            Substantial amounts have been invested in energy R&D over the last 30 years. Much of this has been directed at developing nuclear energy.
            Today, much more is being invested in R&D on renewables, but with rather less to show for it and with renewables having less potential for electricity supply.
            Renewables receive heavy direct subsidies in the market, fossil fuels receive indirect subsidies in their waste disposal.
            Nuclear energy fully accounts for its waste disposal and decommissioning costs in financial evaluations.

            The document cites as its main sources:
            Main Sources:
            OECD/IEA R&D Database, 2002.
            OECD/IEA 1998, Renewable energy policy in IEA countries.
            OECD/NEA 2002, Externalities & Energy Policy - the LCA approach.
            OECD/NEA 2002, Energy Policies of IEA countries - 2002 Review
            Severe Accidents in the Energy Sector, Paul Scherrer Institut;
            WHO, 1997, Health and Environment in Sustainable Development five years after the Earth Summit.
            Grimston & Beck, 2001, Nuclear Energy Research, Development and Commercialisation, RIIA (draft)
            Krewitt et al, 1999, Environmental damage costs from fossil electricity generation in Germany and Europe, Energy Policy 27, 173-183.
            NucNet background # 10/01, Nucleonics Week 26/7/01, Nuclear Issues Nov 2001,
            ExternE web site, EC Inform - Energy #96, 9/01,
            EU DG Research 2003, External costs, on ExternE web site
            Science 293: 1257-9, 17/8/01; Atoms in Japan, August 2001;
            AWEA 1999 Global wind energy market report, IEA CADDET web site.
            Reiche D. & Bechberger M. 2004, Policy differences in the promotion of renewable energies in the EU member states, Energy Policy 32, 843-849.
            Eurelectric 2004, A Quantitative Assessment of Direct Support Schemes for Renewables.

        •  Questioning one's 'bias' (none)
          Plan9 --

          There have been some strong accusations leveled at you about your bias walking into energy discussions.  Looking at your diaries, I see six: four of these energy/pollution related, all four (extremely) pro-nuclear power / nuclear power industry.  The same sort of ratio seems to exist with your posts within diaries.

          Honestly, my fiscal interests are minimal in terms of these discussions (in terms of direct 'holdings', less than 1% of my investments are in one particular solar manufactorer, managed (basically outside my control) accounts have money in petroleum (but, as subset, also renewable) and nuclear industries.  If anything, my work might (MIGHT) be enhanced by an increased nuclear power industry, but that would be peripheral and any fiscal benefits would likely be rather minimal.  Thus, that is my 'coming clean' disclosure requirements re personal finances and energy issues.  With the charges laid against you, perhaps you owe something similar to have credence in these discussions.

          •  I have zero investments (4.00)
   nuclear energy, fossil fuel energy, wind energy, or solar energy.  I have no investments at all in any corporations of any kind.  And I receive no pay from any industry or lobbying group of any kind.

            If I have a bias it concerns my fears about catastrophic global climate change.

            I invest my time and energy in trying to help the environment.  At times the work is anguishing because of public indifference or misapprehensions about species extinction, habitat destruction, increased threats to humanity from famine, drought, mass migration, flooding, changes in ocean currents, acidification of the ocean, melting of glacial ice and polar ice caps, thawing of the permafrost.

            I keep in mind the welfare of our children and grandchildren.  Their world is going to be radically different from ours.

            My work these days involves examining the consequences of global climate disruption, human contribution to acceleration of the process, and ways it can be mitigated as soon as possible on a large and practical scale.

            I would like to point out that the three authors of this energy plan at present or in the past have earned a living in the energy field.  I think that their biases are just as evident as mine is.

            Jerome a Paris, who writes often about wind and openly states that he is a banker involved internationally in wind farm projects for his bank as well as oil projects, is someone I consider honorable and accurate in his statements. He has also written a very good diary on nuclear energy and how well it works in France.

            Devilstower gets his paycheck, according to a diary some months ago, from a coal company.  Yet he is ecumenical in his thinking about energy resources and the reality that coal is not going away any time soon, despite its many environmental drawbacks.

            Meteor Blades has mentioned working for renewable energy concerns--I believe with NREL.

            The fact that they are paid or once were paid for what they like to write about does not make me doubt what they write because they usually back up their assertions and engage in respectful dialogue.  I have learned from all three of them.

            I assume that there are posters who have money invested in wind power and solar power.  May they flourish.  

            I am concerned that the tendencies of wind and solar supporters at times to exaggerate will ultimately reflect poorly on their industry, just as exaggerations about the benefits of cheap nuclear power in the 1950s came back to haunt that industry.

            My interest is in clearing up public misconceptions about nuclear energy, because they are contributing to unrealistic ideas about energy and risk.  These misconceptions are slowly being cleared up as authors like Jared Diamond ("Collapse") and people with distinguished careers as Greens try to explain to people the enormity of the catastrophe that we face and the range of possibilities we have for dealing with it.

            When I see misconceptions posted on the blog I try to provide information to the contrary.  I do not always do it perfectly.  I try to turn to reliable national and international statistics, peer-reviewed documents, etc.

            I am in favor of wind and solar R&D, continuing and increased private and federal subsidies, etc.  And I also support nuclear power.  It never would have occurred to me in the past to support nuclear power.  In fact, for years I opposed it.  But the urgency of our present situation has led to my learning about the risks and benefits of various energy resources and the practical questions about implementing them.

            I am a part of no conspiracy except the one to save the environment.

            •  PS (none)
              The energy plan that is the subject of this diary has a section about nuclear energy.  Devilstower asked for feedback.  

              The people with a bias against nuclear power vented ferociously and without citing their sources.

              I have given my opinion and have also cited the sources that have in part led me to form that opinion.

              If this is a discussion that is only open to fans of one form of energy production, how will that help the Democratic party to come up with an energy plan?

              You can be certain that I am a left-leaning Progressive.  I do admit to giving money to many progressive causes since 2000 because I am horrified by what is happening in the WH.

            •  Thank you for responding ... (none)
              with the extensive discussion.

              Apologies if my challenge seemed to join in a chorus -- I was raising that there were some pretty harsh statements being posted and thus called on to to respond to them if you were willing to.  So, again, thank you for responding.

              By the way, while they have been upfront throughout about this, you are in a resonable position to highlight that the key actors in this dialogue do make a living in various energy fields -- but I give much credit to this being up front throughout the discussions.

              RE nuclear power -- I am one who is somewhat an agnostic, believing that no silver bullet, single point solution exists.  As part of the path toward a changed energy environment, I see improved nuclear facilities as a reasonable part of the agenda (even though, although you might not fully agree, there are serious issues with nuclear power -- such as the two coal-fired plants that support nuclear-power industry facilities in Kentucky (I believe it is) and long-term implications of radioactive materials) which also would include massive increases in renewables in our energy future.

              •  Thanks (none)
                The charges that I would be a nuke industry lobbyist were so absurd it didn't occur to me to address them.  So I appreciate your suggestion to do so.

                I fully agree that we need a broad spectrum of solutions to the problems of fossil fuel combustion, oil and gas depletion, and increasing energy demands.  No one solution is going to work.  I think if you would review my posts (something I wouldn't have the patience to do myself!) you would see that I have repeatedly called for a broad spectrum.  I am not opposed to renewables and never have been.  But people who have a religious attachment to them as the only resource get emotional when reminded that wind and solar also present risks to the environment and that for whatever reason these are still very expensive propositions.

                It's true that processing of nuclear fuel is, foolishly enough, done with electricity from coal-fired plants.  Obviously they could be replaced by nuclear plants.  The Idaho National Laboratory, where advanced reactor designs have been pioneered for decades, used to have some electricity generated by reactors but now relies on non-nuclear sources like hydro and coal.  Duh!  But even if nuclear fuel continued to be made using two coal-fired plants, that pollution is a drop in the bucket compared to the huge amount of polluted emissions our present nuclear plants are sparing the environment.  Because that 20% of nuclear power wouldn't be replaced by anything but fossil fuel combustion, I assure you.

                It's a curious thing that people are terribly concerned about the hypothetical escape of radionuclides from sealed triple-shelled casks in a sealed geological repository in a remote desert ten thousand years from now and the subsequent hypothetical exposure of a population to a level of radioactivity that is less than people living in NE Washington State are exposed to right now--and yet those same people don't mind (or even pay attention to) the fact that diesel combustion kills 20,000 Americans every year.  But the reason people are hypersensitive about nuclear waste is because the nuclear industry, in agitating for Yucca Mt. as a repository, ran scare ads about nuclear waste at power plants in the WaPo and NYT.  Now the nuke plants do not want to ship out their spent fuel because it will probably be reprocessed. It's cheaper and easier to keep it in onsite dry-cask storage, which is low-maintenance.  So the nuke industry, having unintentionally scared the public, is no longer interested in Yucca Mt.  

                Whether one is for or against nuclear energy, the fact remains that there is high-level waste that must be disposed of one way or another even if not another plant or nuke submarine is built.  The govt. needs a place to put the retired submarine fuel and some other high-level military and medical waste.

                As far as I know, the anti-nuclear power people have not come up with a plan for disposing of existing waste.  Nor have they come up with a plan for providing the rest of the energy that will be needed to run the country if we manage to get 30% renewables contributing to the grid.  There are two large-scale, baseload forms of energy in the US:  coal and nuclear.  One is heating up the planet.  The other is not.  Solar power in the US today according to the latest DOE statistics: .1%.  Wind is about the same.

                Because certain states have mandated that a percentage of their energy must come from renewable resources, this has been a huge gift to people in the renewables industry.  I don't mind that.  I am glad if we have more clean energy.

      •  The problem with solar arrays ... (4.00)
        ...and homeowners' associations is such an old one, it's incredibly frustrating. When I was managing editor of the Solar Law Reporter back in 1979, every issue had items regarding municipalities trying to pass laws that gave wide latitude to homeowners regarding their solar installations and overrode homeowners' covenants. Most of the cities failed in their efforts then, and this is still a big problem.
    •  HOAs (4.00)
      Yes, HOA's can be a hassle because of the size and aesthics of solar devices.

      Two possible solutions (not mutually exclusive):

      1)build them directly into homes. HOAs cannot ban what the builder installs. Homebuilders could perhaps enjoy some favored tax or regulatory treatment for intergrating micro-generation, including solar, into their designs. Private-private government-encouraged partnerships between builders and muni electrics could help here, too.

      2)a legal fix could be put in place. The federal government bans HOAs from restricting the installation of certain satellite and microwave communication devices for services such as television and internet. Some states, such as Arizona (my own state), similarly ban HOAs from restricting solar devices. Such a ban could be federalized.

      George W. Bush does not want you to read the above...

      by mbryan on Mon Nov 07, 2005 at 01:24:30 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  energy plan (4.00)
    Excellent work.  

    A couple of minor wordsmith type items.  In item 2 (I think) you talk about the loss of American union jobs.  Get rid of the work union.  It's polarizing and it's American jobs (whether union or non-union).  The other is the comparison of energy education to sex education.  The plan will need broad appeal and there are "moral folks" out there that think sex ed is a crime.  How about using driver's ed or something else.

    As an FYI, in the short term there is a limitation on the production capacity of polysilicon (solar grade).  America is somewhat late to the solar game and internation demand have gone through the roof.  That has driven the price of solar grade poly up considerably.  In the longer term, capacity will increase.

    Thanks for the great work.

    •  I agree that "union" is a bit polarizing (none)
      and although it is factually true, I would leave out the secret energy meetings and Dick can get the point across that the plans we have now aren't working and don't benefit the people without even mentioning Dick and his buddies.

      These are nit-picky things, but the less partisan it sounds/comes off, the better because the less they'll be able to attack the plan as partisan and it won't sound like we're bitching.

      Someone upthread (or maybe it was down?) also suggested giving the money that the gov. is now giving to oil corporations to wind/solar companies instead...I think this is a great idea. Wind and solar groups should get major tax breaks...

  •  Great for Kossacks, Great for Americans!! (4.00)
    This very impressive collaborative effort is proof positive of the collective Kossack intellect and the power of the American spirit.    

    We can all be proud of what we are accomplishing here, and even more proud of living these values personally.  We must continue to lead by example.  Americans are so utterly starved for effective leadership.  Let this be a rallying point that sweeps Progressive Dems into office everywhere in '06 and '08.

  •  Recommend! (none)
    This is excellent, excellent work. Serious,scholarly and practical. And they say Democrats have no ideas! You are to be highly commended.
  •  Energy Subsidies (4.00)
    Re: Point # 4, the Energy Research Funding.

    I disagree with the energy subsidies.  It is laudable to promise relief to those most affected by this tiny surcharge, but it indicates an admission that it IS a burden.  I agree 100% that it will be an invisible increase and would pass unnoticed by all.  If we call attention to it with promises of rebates or relief, we open up to two counter arguments.  1)  Who qualifies/ how is the money "returned" and 2)  I TOLD you it would be a burden.

    Instead, point out how the whole approach will provide benefits to the poor.  Decreased prices as we wean ourselves off the oil teat, improved public transportation, lower cost conservation methods, SHARED SACRIFCIE by EVERYONE... all of these can help take the sting out without being a sugar daddy.

  •  Solar Roofs (4.00)
    Part of this act should be the creation/ strengthening of an authoritative governing body.  This body MUST be seen as a legitimate arbiter of what qualifies as acceptable alternative power.  It would probably be better to enact this as a separate provision, or perhaps fold it into the general introduction.  

    I am pretty sure the mechanism already exists in one of our cabinet level agencies, but it needs to be explicitly removed from influence by the existing power players.  

    The worst thing we could wind up with is something that "sounds" green but is actually just an old fashioned solution with a new coat of paint.   A trustworthy "Seal of Approval", preferably from an independent entity that does not depend upon good intentions for funding or oversight, will be a key to acceptance.

    •  Like this idea... (none)
      ...getting voter support could be tricky because industry will fight it by finding (or creating) examples where environmentalists have supposedly gone too far with controls (EPA and ESA stuff).  Linking it to security (sadly) would make it more emotionally compelling...
  •  You asked for it, Devilstower! (none)

    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.  

    I appreciate the inclusion of nuclear power in the energy plan.  Both Al Gore and Howard Dean have endorsed nuclear power with the proviso that it be carefully monitored.   I also appreciate your realistic approach--your awareness that people are nervous about nuclear energy.  

    However, I think it's important to start with some fundamental info about where our electricity is coming from today and what the comparative risks are from the major sources today.  People have very unrealistic ideas.  

    Just to let you know what goes through my mind when I read this section, I have made a list of my reactions.

    I respectfully submit that your statement--"may be required"--appears to overlook the fact that right now nuclear energy is providing almost all of the emissions-free electricity in the US and 20% of our electricity at a cost per kilowatt-hour that is cheaper than coal.   If we shut down all nuclear plants today, the rate of greenhouse gases would soar.  
    Also:  people have "understandable reservations" because of a lot of misconceptions that are simply unsupported by the science.  Some of these misconceptions arise from a confusion of nuclear weapons and waste from their construction with commercial nuclear power.   And people generally do not understand that the menace to public health and the environment from fossil fuel combustion (which supplies around 75% of our electricity) far exceeds any threat from nuclear energy.    Some concerns are justified and others are not.  So it might be helpful to point out that in five decades there have been no deaths in the US from the operation of commercial nuclear power.


    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.

    At present any nuclear facility must meet stringent requirements of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the Environmental Protection Agency.  Environmental impact, siting, and design must meet some of the strictest regulations in the world.  
    Work with the IAEA to create new standards for the regulation and inspection of nuclear plants worldwide, and for improved regulation of nuclear waste.

    Is there a problem with present IAEA regulation and inspection? That's what this sentence implies.   But IAEA does such monitoring.  For example, it did an international peer review of Yucca Mountain and provided advice about improving methodology.  No doubt if and when Yucca Mountain advances to the next stage (and who knows if it will), IAEA will be there pointing out matters that need further attention.


    Investigate and standardize means of waste disposal, while understanding that no solution will be perfect.

    I assume by waste disposal you mean spent nuclear fuel.  (There are different types of nuclear waste.) The strong scientific consensus (National Academy of Sciences, IAEA) has been for many years that long-term disposal should be in deep geological repositories in which the waste is immobilized in multi-layered casks. The nature of each geological site determines design and engineering of the casks and repositories.  So strict standardization may not be applicable.  Billions and decades have already been spent on this research and some workable solutions have been determined.  Your statement as presently written implies that no serious thought or research has been given to the disposal of spent nuclear fuel and that no standardization obtains. This is untrue.  Transportation casks and trucks for pent nuclear fuel have been standardized and must meet NRC standards.
    Again, I don't expect you to put this detailed info into the document.  I believe I am not the only one who would want the document to have a real-world basis.  Hence the feedback.
    If I were one of the authors of this document I would be lobbying for a sentence like this:  Nuclear waste should continue to be transferred from spent fuel pools to interim storage in thickly shielded concrete casks until we can develop efficient means of recycling the fuel -90% of which remains unburned--and until we can construct a workable national repository in a deep geological site.


    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.

    American plants all have multiple safety barriers and automatic shutdown responses already.   Additional backup systems were increased after Three Mile Island.  If you mean the kind of reactor that automatically goes subcritical if the core overheats, that design was proven in the early 1990s with a sodium cooled test reactor.  Obviously, ongoing research is always a good idea.  I believe that all the major Generation Four designs are "intrinsically safe".  So support of the construction and testing of the best of those designs would be a good idea.  So would more research on having power reactors recycle their fuel.

    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.

    As far as I can make out, the nuclear industry has figured out that it's cheaper and simpler all around to have a standardized design and uniform planning for future reactors and plants.   Environmental scientists and health physicists work onsite.  Inspectors from the NRC are assigned full time to every nuclear plant.  Construction, disposal, and operations are already carried out to ensure environmental, worker, and general public safety.  If only this were true of chemical plants, oil refineries, and coal-fired plants.  Or even of hospitals.
    You asked for feedback, and I am giving it.  But I want you to know that I'm very grateful to you and your colleagues for all the work, and I know each of the existing points has been hard-won after a lot of debate and compromise.  It may be that the statement about nuclear power should stand as you have it.  However, it does contain implications that at present nuclear plants are perhaps dispensible, they they are allowed to be run every which way, unsupervised, that there is no monitoring, and that waste is dumped willy-nilly, etc.  Maybe there is some way to change the language to take care of those implications.

    The problems with nuclear power are chiefly political and perceptual, not technical.  It is a mature technology with a very long safety record as compared with fossil fuels.

    •  So I guess hydro is just make-believe? (none)
      You are incorrigible.

      I am the federal government.

      by mateosf on Sun Nov 06, 2005 at 09:41:00 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  No, you are the incorrigible one, dude (none)
        According to the US Energy Information Agency, considered the most reliable source of statistics on all forms of power generation, in 2000 hydro contributed 7.3% to the grid.  That is not a sufficient amount to deliver electricity to the entire nation.  Nuclear energy's share was 19.8%.

        More from EIA (although the info on that particular web page is a bit out of date, since six new nuclear plants are now under consideration):

        Opinions vary regarding the future of nuclear power, but it is a fact that existing U.S. plants are performing well. Nuclear power plants now operate at a 90 percent capacity factor, compared to 56 percent in 1980. Additionally and in contrast to oil and gas, nuclear fuel costs are low and relatively stable. Fuel costs now average less than one half cent per kilowatthour. This is well below the costs of major competing fossil fuels. Production costs for nuclear power, operation and maintenance plus fuel costs, are also low, averaging 1.8 cents per kilowatt-hour. This cost roughly matches coal and is significantly below the costs of operating a natural gas plant.
        Fuel costs are lower for steam-based power for coal than for oil or gas. Thus, coal-based power has only a slightly higher U.S. average production cost than does nuclear. The costs are so close that, while nuclear costs average lower than coal, there is a good deal of overlap when regions of the country or individual reactors are considered.
        Nuclear power does, however, have an advantage in day-to-day operations in its low marginal costs. Day-to-day marginal costs are primarily fuel costs. A disproportionate part of nuclear power operating costs come from operations and maintenance costs that do not vary much with output. Because nuclear power's marginal costs are lower than coal's marginal costs, nuclear power plants tend to use their full output capacity before coal plants. This gives nuclear power an advantage in base load operations and results in a higher capacity factor.
        U.S. Capacity and Market Share by Fuel 2000
        Fuel    Capacity Factor (percent)    Generation Share (percent)    Generation (billion kWh)
        Coal    71.0    51.7    1966
        Oil & Gas    29.1    19.0    724
        Nuclear    87.9     19.8     754
        Hydro    39.6    7.3    276
        Geothermal    57.6    0.4     14
        Biomass    69.1    1.6     61
        Wind    26.8    0.1    6
        Photovoltaic    15.1     <0.1     0.5


        Hydroelectric power capacity factors were low because of the drought during 2000. Also, cheap hydropower can be stored in the form of water. This allows it to be sold when prices are higher, during peak demand periods, when such cycles are permitted. Numbers for nuclear presently are around 90-91 percent capacity factor and 20-21 percent generation share.

        With the ongoing rise in temperature, we can expect more droughts.  Hydro is maxed out in terms of new dam construction--which, in any case, means habitat destruction and methane emissions, not to mention a huge footprint.

      •  No one wants to build more hydro. (none)

        They're busy tearing down dams out west because of what they did to the rivers.  Even if we did dam everything in sight, it wouldn't supply enough power to get us out of our energy hole.

        •  True enough, (none)
          Though I'd point out that the Pacific Northwest states of Washington, Oregon & Idaho still get most of their power from hydro. The biggest private utility in the region - PacifiCorps - is bidding tons of wind into its system, and we're all familiar with the battles over salmon; me, I'm with the fish, but that is a very off-topic thread.

          I was responding to Plan9's false claim that nukes are the only carbon-free power source in use in the U.S. today.

          I am the federal government.

          by mateosf on Mon Nov 07, 2005 at 09:57:25 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Please reread my post (none)
            I said that almost all emissions-free electricity comes form nuclear.  I have never claimed anywhere that nuclear provided 100% because I know that is not the case.  If you can find any evidence to the contrary, you get a bottle of champagne.  

            I am well aware that wind and solar together supply about 1% (and I hope that percentage grows)and that hydro supplies between 5-7%.  We also buy hydro from Canada.

    •  And again, (none)
      Lots of glorious statements about nuclear potential, no proof.

      I think, since Plan9 won't share his information with the rest of us, folks should be aware that most folks in the energy policy and financial community think we're at least 15-20 years from seeing standard design nuke facilities. If we're all willing to wait - and spend 10, 20, 30, 50 billion $$ doing the research in the interim - then, yeah, nukes are a great idea.

      But we need that funding for real solutions, not pipe dreams.

      I am the federal government.

      by mateosf on Sun Nov 06, 2005 at 09:46:26 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Please show the data that says (none)
      Nuclear is cheaper than coal.
      All the data I have seen says wind, coal and hydro power are the cheapest sources of electricity, all near 5 cents a KWH.
      With Nat gas and Nukes coming in at 7 cents.
      •  Shall we hold our breath together? (none)
        I've been hypoxic waiting for Plan9 to share his secret database of previosuly unrevealed energy facts for, oh, about three months now ...

        I am the federal government.

        by mateosf on Sun Nov 06, 2005 at 11:58:48 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Go to Energy Information Agency (none)
        [Nuclear-power]fuel costs now average less than one half cent per kilowatthour. This is well below the costs of major competing fossil fuels. Production costs for nuclear power, operation and maintenance plus fuel costs, are also low, averaging 1.8 cents per kilowatt-hour. This cost roughly matches coal and is significantly below the costs of operating a natural gas plant.

        If you read my EIA post above you will see that in many instances nuclear is cheaper than coal.

        If you consider the fact that coal combustion in the US causes 32,000 premature deaths annually according to the Abt Study (another public health study puts the toll at 26,000 a year) and that deaths from nuclear have been zero in the US since the beginning of nuclear power generation, then fossil fuel generation is really costly.  Those figures don't take into consideration all the expenses of ailments suffered by downwinders.

        As an environmentalist, I am aware of the costs to the planet of continuing to burn fossil fuels.  We need every emissions-free resource we can get.  


        The Impact of Nuclear Energy on Greenhouse Gas Emissions

        •  Still some considerations. (none)

          That doesn't include either disposal of fuel or insurance, both of which are borne by the government.  Really, you should also include financial incentives private companies are going to need to build these things since A) There are more profitable and lower-key power plants you can build instead and B) They are very expensive and have a very long pay-back period.

          Although, for fairness sake, I should mention the government addresses the later point of Wind generators by allowing for increased depreciation accounting.

          •  But surely you also agree (none)
            that increased depreciation for renewables is a very, very different kind of "subsidy" than massive, direct checks written to the nuclear industry for R&D, disposal, insurance, financing ...

            I am the federal government.

            by mateosf on Mon Nov 07, 2005 at 08:43:46 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Not so different. (none)

              There are considerations with regard to nuclear subsidies.

              First of all, much nuclear research is military related, which is not a concern when it comes to wind or solar power.  As such, money thus allocated performs a dual role.

              The insurance issues could be taken care of via a waver of liability, as that is mainly due to a failure of the private insurance system.  Essentially, no private insurer has enough money to take the hit in the event of a uncontrolled nuclear meltdown.

              The government-supplied insurance is a "virtual" subsidy in that the government actually makes money from the subsidy.  The nuclear power industry has never seriously collected on it, it's the liability the government assumes that makes it a subsidy.  But doesn't the government always carry liability for any great disaster?  Take Katrina for example, where FEMA is footing the bill (To some extent, let's stay on topic.)

              As for the other concerns, it's merely a matter of scale.  If wind/solar made up an equal amount of the energy pie, with the lobbying power that comes with it, I'm sure they'd have about the same amount.

              •  Well, I'm a free-market guy, (none)
                So I'd much rather cut all the subsidies, tax the crap out of carbon, and let the market pick the winners.

                I double-dare nuclear advocates to enter the free market. Wind power is far closer to the market than any other resource, and I suspect that's why the nuke and coal guys oppose it so stridently - they don't have to go and raise money on capital markets the way wind power does (in fact, they can't - no private fund will take the risk).

                Let me up the ante: I TRIPLE dare nuclear advocates to try their ideas in a subsidy-free market.

                Any takers?

                I am the federal government.

                by mateosf on Mon Nov 07, 2005 at 09:50:12 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  Interesting definition of free market. (none)

                  tax the crap out of carbon, and let the market pick the winners.

                  Subsidies use rewards to make businesses behave like the government wants, taxes are punishment to make them do the same thing.

                  There's only a small amount of "free market" involved, as you've essentially decided beforehand you want the one that produces the least carbon to win.  Natural gas still more profitable than wind power?  Just up the carbon tax until it isn't.  The "free market" is only tangentially involved.

                  •  Yep, I want the power source with the (none)
                    least carbon to win. I don't care which one it is. I don't care if it's nukes, I don't care if it's hydro, I don't care if it's wind or solar or wave or geothermal or hippies on freakin' bicycles attached to a copper coil - as long as the winner wins on the basis of superior technology and affordability to consumers.

                    I am not the one who invented the notion of carbon taxes, nor am I the only proponent.

                    Your "taxes are punishment" statement is straight outta the Grover Norquist talking points guide. Don't like taxes? Go live in Somalia, they don't have taxes. Taxes are a civilized society's membership dues.

                    What seems to be lost in this discussion - we're all talking about reducing carbon emissions. But some of us feel we should do that through massive and bloated regimens of government handouts to favored industries like nukes, and some of us feel that everyone should have an equal footing. There is no question that, against all odds, renewables are making huge headway, on an incredibly uneven playing field. The fact that nukes are back at the trough looking for handouts is a sign of the market reality that they can't raise the money on the strength of their ideas alone.

                    Wind power is financed by private investors. Can you name a nuclear plant in the U.S. that was financed 100% by private money that is still in operation today, and has not had some sort of bailout? I'm actually curious to find such a plant.

                    Of course, if you feel that global warming is still a myth, then you would have a different goal for a national energy policy.

                    And I take it from your response that you're not sure nuclear power is up to take my dare. Which is my point exactly.

                    BTW, natural gas will never again compete with wind power on the cost of generation; gas generation will always be more profitable, but that's not the same thing - that profit comes at the expense of the end-user. The new floor price for gas is about $5 per mmBtu; for electricity generation, wind beats gas at $4.

                    I am the federal government.

                    by mateosf on Mon Nov 07, 2005 at 01:34:43 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  On taxes and carbon (none)

                      Your "taxes are punishment" statement is straight outta the Grover Norquist talking points guide. Don't like taxes? Go live in Somalia, they don't have taxes. Taxes are a civilized society's membership dues.

                      Taxes for the sake of changing behavior are punishment.  When you tax first and decide what you're going to do with the money later, that sounds a lot like punative taxation.

                      There is no question that, against all odds, renewables are making huge headway, on an incredibly uneven playing field. The fact that nukes are back at the trough looking for handouts is a sign of the market reality that they can't raise the money on the strength of their ideas alone.

                      I don't consider this "against all odds."  Renewable power enjoys relatively good government subsidies coupled with good press.  When people are willing paying more for your product, you have a very good market environment.  Nuclear power has very poor press, and while it's easy to build a relatively small windpower plant, a tiny nuclear facility faces the same zoning and insurance hurtles as a large one.

                      Wind power is financed by private investors. Can you name a nuclear plant in the U.S. that was financed 100% by private money that is still in operation today, and has not had some sort of bailout? I'm actually curious to find such a plant.

                      Nuclear power isn't exactly my specialty, but I suspect any such plant would be the exception rather than the rule.

                      BTW, natural gas will never again compete with wind power on the cost of generation; gas generation will always be more profitable, but that's not the same thing - that profit comes at the expense of the end-user. The new floor price for gas is about $5 per mmBtu; for electricity generation, wind beats gas at $4.

                      What a bold prediction!  Personally, I look at historical prices and what I see is a sudden speculation-based jump at 2003 that hasn't come down yet.  Do you really think the natural gas industry hit a real supply limit just as the Iraq War started?

                      •  If you really want to learn about natural gas, (none)
                        Start here. You can find plenty more studies like this one if you google around for a while. Or just read the paper, the story of North America's gas climax is in there just about every day.

                        North American gas production peaked in 1973. We are just about out of gas. When LNG hits the market, the new floor will have to be $5, and will likely be higher.

                        I am the federal government.

                        by mateosf on Mon Nov 07, 2005 at 03:55:37 PM PST

                        [ Parent ]

                      •  renewables subsidies small in comparison (none)
                        "I don't consider this "against all odds."  Renewable power enjoys relatively good government subsidies coupled with good press.  When people are willing paying more for your product, you have a very good market environment.  Nuclear power has very poor press, and while it's easy to build a relatively small windpower plant, a tiny nuclear facility faces the same zoning and insurance hurtles as a large one."

                        Subsidies for renewables pale in comparison to those for coal, oil, and nuclear power.  The fact of the matter is that if there were a true free market in energy, nuclear would die a quick death because it is so expensive and renewables would be able to compete just fine against fossil fuels.  

                •  Actually (none)
                  Finland is currently building a private sector funded nuclear reactor based on the new French design, the EPR.

                  In the long run, we're all dead (Keynes)
                  Read more on the European Tribune - bringing dKos to Europe

                  by Jerome a Paris on Mon Nov 07, 2005 at 02:02:47 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  At what cost per kWh? (none)
                    Jerome -

                    You are probably best situated to answer these critical questions, so please humor me -

                    Can Finland's financial model & technical design for nukes work in the U.S.? Are U.S. companies working to copy France's standard design, and are American banks willing to back it? Do they have an ETA on a pilot project? ETA on full-market roll-out?

                    Everything I've seen suggests standard-design nukes don't hit the U.S. market before 2020, which is way, way too late, but I'm dying to hear if I've got bad information.

                    I am the federal government.

                    by mateosf on Mon Nov 07, 2005 at 04:03:47 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  I don't have the info at hand (none)
                      but you may be able to find a lot of official data by digging on the sites of Areva (the French nuclear company, which will build the EPR with Siemens) or on that of IVO, the main Finnish power company that bought the plant together with a few large industrial groups (all hevay power users).

                      On the US side, again you can check the new JV between Areva and Constellation, called Unistar Nuclear (see the PR here)

                      See this article also.

                      In the long run, we're all dead (Keynes)
                      Read more on the European Tribune - bringing dKos to Europe

                      by Jerome a Paris on Tue Nov 08, 2005 at 03:20:09 AM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  Thanks, I'd read about Unistar, (none)
                        and their material is consistent with the 2020 ETA:

                        "The design will be licensed and ready to deploy in America ... by 2015." assuming a 5-7 year permitting/construction time frame (is this assumption too long?), that gets us to standard nukes in 2020 - and this assumes the design is ready on time for 2015 licensing.

                        I suspect this is too late to win the race against coal, but there seem to be a lot of voices here who don't seem to think that's a relevant issue.

                        I am the federal government.

                        by mateosf on Tue Nov 08, 2005 at 11:42:56 AM PST

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  But the design (none)
                          is essentially ready today. Areva is now building its EPR in Finland, and will start another one in France in the next 2 years.

                          In the long run, we're all dead (Keynes)
                          Read more on the European Tribune - bringing dKos to Europe

                          by Jerome a Paris on Wed Nov 09, 2005 at 04:05:22 PM PST

                          [ Parent ]

                          •  Sure, but I suspect (none)
                            the NRC et al are likely to want to review those designs before they issue a bunch of accelerated licenses to an industry that is not exactly trusted in the U.S. - given some recent reactor problems in Arizona, Canada etc. & the little issue of waste storage (Yucca Mtn will get further funding cuts this year), nukes are not exactly endearing themselves to the public.

                            Again, as I've been arguing for some time, the issue of new nukes in the U.S. is not one of technology, it's one of politics and finance. The politics are bad, but the finances are way worse.

                            I'm not sure if you saw it, but last year MIT did its own analysis of nukes, and found that, financially, they are not ready to compete in the U.S. energy market. Meanwhile, in 2003, windpower accounted for 20% of all new generation capacity in the U.S. - and 2005 will break all the old records.

                            MIT confirms that lower-cost options include renewables, efficiency, and carbon abatement/sequestration. All are cheaper options, in the U.S., than new nukes.

                            I am the federal government.

                            by mateosf on Thu Nov 10, 2005 at 12:48:00 AM PST

                            [ Parent ]

      •  Economics of future nuclear power (none)
        Any energy plan that is to be taken seriously has to deal with energy production as it is today and as it is likely to be in the coming decades.  As an environmentalist concerned above all fossil fuel emissions, I have come to the conclusion that nuclear power is going to have to be part of the mix because it's better for the environment and public health than fossil fuel generation, we have enough uranium and thorium (in addition to a growing stockpile of enriched uranium from dismantled nuclear warheads) to fuel our reactors for the next few hundred years, and that education about conservation is an important factor.

        Nuclear plants are expensive to build, but they do earn back their costs.

        Their footprint is small.  To replace nuclear power with wind power in the US today would require wind farms covering an area the size of W. Virginia.  It takes approx. 150,000 acres of wind farm to replace one 1,000 megawatt nuclear plant, which takes up about a third of a square mile. To get 20% of our electricity from solar would require paving an area the size of the state of Connecticut with photovoltaics.  But maybe we can use those rooftops--if so, great!

        Great if we can get wind power up to 20% without filling up vast tracts with millions of cubic yards of concrete bases.  But, as Jerome a Paris keeps pointing out, wind farms are heavy industry.

        Let's say we do get wind and solar producing 20-30% of our electricity. I hope we do. What happens regarding the remaining percentage now taken up by fossil fuels?  In the real world, fossil fuel plants and nuclear plants are going to have to remain in operation.  If nuclear power is eliminated, use of fossil fuels will increase.

        The Economics of Nuclear Power, a 2004 report from the University of Chicago which was funded by DOE, compares power costs of future nuclear, coal, and gas-fired power generation in the USA. Various nuclear options discussed range from 4.3 to 5.0 c/kWh on the basis of overnight capital costs of $1200 to $1500/kW, 60 year plant life, 5 year construction and 90% capacity. Coal gives 3.5 - 4.1 c/kWh and gas (CCGT) 3.5 - 4.5 c/kWh, but these figures are hostage to fluctuations in fuel price.

        The levelized nuclear power cost figures include up to 29% of the overnight capital cost as interest.  Up to another 24% of the overnight capital cost needs to be added for the initial unit of a first-of-a-kind advanced design such as the AP1000, defining the high end of the range above. For more advanced plants such as the EPR or SWR1000, overnight capital cost of $1800/kW is assumed and power costs are projected beyond the range above. However, considering a series of eight units of the same kind and assuming increased efficiency due to experience which lowers overnight capital cost, the levelized power costs drop 20% from those quoted above and where first-of-a-kind engineering costs are amortised (eg the $1500/kW case above), they drop 32%, making them competitive about 3.4 c/kWh.

        I refer you to the following papers:

        OECD/IEA, 1992, Electricity Supply in the OECD, (above Figure from Annex 9).
        OECD/ IEA NEA 1998, Projected Costs of Generating Electricity
        OECD/ IEA NEA 2005, Projected Costs of Generating Electricity- update
        OECD, 1994, The Economics of the Nuclear Fuel Cycle.
        Nuclear Europe Worldscan 7-8/97
        NEI: US generating cost data
        Siemens Power Journal, Dec 1999.
        Tarjanne & Rissanen, 2000, in Proceedings 25th International Symposium, Uranium Institute.
        Percebois J. 2003, The peaceful uses of nuclear energy, Energy Policy 31, 101-08, Jan 2003
        Gutierrez, J 2003, Nuclear Fuel - key for the competitiveness of nuclear energy in Spain, WNA Symp.
        Nucleonics Week 20/2/03.
        Royal Academy of Engineering 2004, The costs of generating electricity.
        ExternE web site
        Canadian Energy Research Institute, August 2004, Levelised Unit Electricity Cost Comparison Š Ontario.
        University of Chicago, August 2004, The Economic Future of Nuclear Power.
        Feretic D, & Tomsic Z, 2004, Probabilistic analysis of electrical energy costs, Energy Policy 33,1; Jan 2005.

    •  Nuclear Waste transportation (none)
      Whatever means are found for the safe disposal of nuclear waste, it will not likely be done on site.

      Transporting that waste by truck or rail might provide an inviting target for terrorists.

      It seems to me that problem is more than political or perceptual.

      •  Safety record (none)
        Transportation of nuclear fuel goes on all the time around the US and has for decades without incident.  An article from the left-leaning Brookings Institution addresses the question of terrorism in regard to trucks and casks carrying nuclear waste.

        For one thing, the casks have to be opened by special equipment.  For another thing, the waste is triply contained.

  •  A Smart Proposal (none)
    I suggest you add this under the "Smart America" frame in Frameshop: Target President Profile and set up a frameshop page for the plan. It just seems like this is a great thing to put on dKosopedia, especially now that it's this far along.

    I've been developing the Smart America frame as a way to collect Democratic initiatives for future elections. The idea of having smart initiatives is that "smart" trumps "strong" every time. Whenever the Republicans play the "we're strong on . . ." card, Democrats should shake their heads, mutter "there they go again" and talk about how important it is to be smart about the issue rather than wasting money and other resources on it.

    This is a perfect Smart America initiative.

    Liberal Thinking

    Think, liberally.

    by Liberal Thinking on Sun Nov 06, 2005 at 08:42:29 PM PST

  •  Recycling needs to be included... (none)
    in some form. Take a moment and look around yourself... Now note this fact: Plastic is Oil. Recycling is a crucial component to survival, or at least a stop gap effort that will buy us time.

    If you can't laugh at yourself, I sure as hell will - me

    by blueyedace2 on Sun Nov 06, 2005 at 08:44:07 PM PST

    •  Plastic can be made... (none)
      ...from vegetable oil as well.
      •  ...which is made by farming... (none)

        ...which, in its modern form, is made possible by fertilizer from oil.

        •  Rethink energy farming (none)
          While the current corn>ethanol and soy>biodiesel models are tied to the use of residual mash as animal feed, a pure energy farming play can use non-food grade fertilizers derived from the municipal waste stream, ie shit into gold.

          The heavy metal content of this input would, however, mean permanently retiring those lands from the food supply, so this should only be undertaken on land already degraded, such as industrial brownfields.

          A Senator YOU can afford
          $1 contributions only.
          Masel for Senate
          1214 E. Mifflin St.
          Madison, WI 53703

          by ben masel on Mon Nov 07, 2005 at 09:05:13 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  Landfill mining (none)
      I have heard it suggested that it won't be too long before it will be more economical to look for certain metals and metrials in landfills and dumps rather than in mines.

      Recycling is certainly something that should be a significant part of this.

      I like the idea of a hefty "general waste" tax. This would be so many cents per pound of waste put in the landfill-bound waste stream. No such tax on waste placed in the "recovery/recycle" waste stream.

      Just a thought...

      •  landfill mining (none)
        This is very true.  We throw away enough aluminum every three months in the US to replace the entire commercial passenger aircraft fleet.  We can get a lot of scrap metal out of landfills.  

        A few months ago I was at an Entrepreneurs for Sustainability meeting in Cleveland (it's a local group here).  Someone had a display showing a process that they had developed to turn plastic back into petrochemicals.  Lots of plastic in the landfills too.  

        I'm also somewhat involved in a project in NE Ohio where a company is processing spent foundry sand from  a foundry sand dump into about 8 or 9 different commercial projects-- including clean silica sand and chromite sand that can be re-used in the foundry process.  Once the material in the dump has been reclaimed, there will be nothing but a nice 8 acre lake left.

        Lots of possibilities here.  

  •  off-topic geek thinking (none)

    There is alot of asphalt covering the earth generating lots of heat/energy everyday. When paving would it be possible to implant strips of material that could make use of this heat sink. Like alot of solar cells baking in the sun.

    Just a wild idea, move on.

  •  good work (none)
    i'd like to see a version of this plan that's targetted towards local/municipal and/or state governments. this will allow for a multi pronged approach to enacting the legislation & would further help the speed & efficacy with which we could meet the plan's goals. additionally, enacting this type of legislation on a local &/or state level would help build support among people & politicians as well as build a base of empirical data that can be used to further argue for the plan's implementation on a national level. s.

    the best lack all conviction while the worst are full of passionate intensity --w.b.yeats the second coming

    by synth on Sun Nov 06, 2005 at 08:49:31 PM PST

  •  Renewables for poor countries too (none)
    Thanks for this excellent piece of work.  I think the renewable energy aspects of this would be strengthened by including some language about the absolute necessity for the U.S. to finance and otherwise support renewable energy in developing countries.  This is critical for several policy and political reasons:

    1. Developing countries are experiencing the greatest jumps upward in fossil fuel use.  We can and must help them leapfrog our lousy energy model.  

    2. The U.S. -- via our export credit agencies, the World Bank, etc. -- continues to finance large numbers of fossil fuel projects around the world, but very little in the way of renewable energy.  The State Dept. has a track record of working for oil pipelines, etc. but not pressing for renewables.

    3. This is also an issue of addressing poverty in developing countries. For the 1.6 billion who don't have electricity, renewable options (e.g. off-grid solar or micro-hydro) are often the only options in the near-term.  For others who live in areas with access to electricity, fossil fuel options often come with high public health costs (e.g. coal power plants) that renewables can help address.  

    So --- the U.S. should be putting significant amounts of its development assistance into renewable energy that can help alleviate poverty, reduce pollution and improve public health outcomes in poor countries, and be an important part of addressing climate change.  Otherwise, we're missing a key piece of the global puzzle . . .
  •  You're getting there. (none)
    I like your legislative agenda, especially the 100 days plan. When we win, we would have a mandate to enact the plan.

    I  think your intro is rather dry and lengthy. It reads like a college thesis. I'm not sure this is any better, it's still a little long.


    Energizing  America The SMART Way


    As the rest of the world industrializes, natural resources become more precious.  Our economy has felt the effects of the growth of China and India in the last few years, as they vie for energy to make their economies grow.  The competition is only going to intensify over the years as demand keeps increasing and production can not keep pace. Instability in the middle east, makes this source of oil difficult to depend upon, and forces us to spend more on national defense than would be necessary if we were self sufficient. At the same time, nations around the world are forced into alliances that are not in our best interests in order to shore up their own energy needs. The results of global warming are becoming more apparent everyday as our earth struggles to support an industrialized population.

    The democratic solution  to this problem is to focus on getting the most from every barrel of oil we use by instituting strict new conservation laws,  increasing CAFE standards for the cars we drive, and pouring our resources into alternative/renewable fuels like solar and wind, that will leave our country independent of the whims of oil producing countries, and the environmental havoc wreaked by this form of energy.

    By looking FORWARD, instead of trying to just drill our way out of this problem, while abdicating stewardship of our air and water, as the Republicans would have us do, democrats believe America will be stronger, economically, and our world will be a safer, cleaner, place to raise our children in if we do the SMART thing.

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

    by Sherri in TX on Sun Nov 06, 2005 at 08:51:10 PM PST

  •  Some nits & suggestions (none)
    I had to stop the close reading before the numbered proposals (late).

    The initial "Oil import" graphic:
    Move the Consumption label down to outside the shaded area so it's more clear that it is labeling that line.
    Put the Projections label into the shaded region, probably directly under the Production line.

    Seems less academic w/o the bolded words:
    "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."

    I would make it more personal (America) because of the "Anyone who":
    "Anyone who is serious about national and economic security knows we must be serious about moving our countryAmerica toward real energy independence."

    I don't immediately see the linkage "to protect" here:
    "Promote energy efficiency and conservation to protect Americans and the environment."

    Was I supposed to know what RPS's are? Shoot.
    "Our plan calls for Renewable Portfolio Standards and for a..."

    I would modify "pitiful":
    "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 only pitiful amounts are allocated for alternative energy sources and conservation."

    These bolds didn't make sense, seemed out of place in the text:
    "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."
    "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..."<hr>

    If this is anything like what you are looking for, I'll come back tomorrow.

    -- In Your Face From Outer Space

    by mike101 on Sun Nov 06, 2005 at 09:02:18 PM PST

  •  Midwest High Speed Rail. (none)
    website Has some information on current efforts.  They also provide tools for contacting elected officials.

    "Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose."

    by Odysseus on Sun Nov 06, 2005 at 09:04:42 PM PST

    •  Commuter Rail (none)
      To make commuter rail a realistic intercity transportation option, intracity public transportation also has to be a realistic option for commuters.

      We should go beyond highspeed intercity rail and propose partnerships with municipalities and states that also encourage the growth of urban light rail systems in the package.

      George W. Bush does not want you to read the above...

      by mbryan on Mon Nov 07, 2005 at 01:32:24 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  we need both (none)
        We need both more commuter rail in urban areas and more regional, intercity passenger rail, and even more long distance trains too.  What is needed is a comprehensive program to address all three.
    •  Why Midwest... (none)
      My own biases aside, there's reasons to prioritize the Chicago hub system over the Florida lines, both practical and political.

      More Senators in the States to be served. More in place local Republican enthusiasm. (Put Tommy Thompson in charge of selling it on the Hill.)

      Midwest winters are enough disincentive to driving to guarantee ridership reducing subsidies.

      The Chicago hub means more destinations served with the same number of track miles.

      One more pet idea to cut infrastructure cost to taxpayers: Site stations with Indian casinos, with the tribes, who'd benefit from door to door service picking up the cost of building and maintaining the terminals.

      A Senator YOU can afford
      $1 contributions only.
      Masel for Senate
      1214 E. Mifflin St.
      Madison, WI 53703

      by ben masel on Mon Nov 07, 2005 at 08:55:20 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Wow! Excellent work! (4.00)
    This is the best, most intelligent writing I've seen on DKos in a very long time.

    Actually, I thought it was one of those "New Slogans for the Democratic Party" diaries at first, then I realized it was specifically about energy.  But I think the basic premise would work for the New Slogan thing too.  Energy = Power for America.  

    I'm so sick of hearing all the "framing" discussions here about how to present the Dems.  If we could boil all that spin down to practical, real-world solutions, as exemplified in this diary, it would be great.

    New Orleans will never die

    by hrh on Sun Nov 06, 2005 at 09:16:12 PM PST

  •  I am VERY disappointed that the plan (4.00)
    is based on the talking points of the coal and nuclear power industry in Acts number 13 and 14 advocating the testing of mythical "intrinsically safe" nuclear power plants and "clean-coal" technology and expanded strip-mining in places like West Virginia.

    The rest of the plan is fanstastic, but 13 and 14 are bogus and must be eliminated.  I've written several diaries on how the nuclear power industry has a new PR push for Pebble Bed Modular Reactors, which they call "inherently safe".  The writers of the above plan attempt to hide their nuke industry influence by calling it "intrinsically" safe instead of "inherently" safe so they don't give themselves away immediately.

    Pebble nukes are in reality inherently unsafe, as the German government ruled in 1986 when they permanently shut down their experimental PBMR.

    PBMRs are designed so they cannot meltdown, but the Haas plant caught fire and contaminated a 2 kilometer area around the plant.

    Here's the kicker on PBMRs.

    They don't have any containment buildings!


    You see, that would defeat the entire purpose of the MODULAR design, so you can add reactor after reactor to the same site, no new permits needed.

    ALL without containment buildings.

    Isn't that SPECIAL?

    And they will be sited by Eminent Domain on closed Army bases.  6 states are already being considered for nukes.

    Plus mining, processing and transporting uranium, as well as the construction of new plants, creates greenhouse gases equal to 1/3 of a gas-fired plant.  (That's because CFCs are emitted by the coal plants that process high-grade uranium ore).  If enough nukes are built to make a dent in global warming (20,000) through electric cars, the high-grade uranium runs out after only SEVERAL YEARS.  Process low-grade ore with coal and each nuclear plant would be equal to one gas-fired plant in carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions!

    Every new nuke added obviously increases the odds that someone will make a mistake, or a natural disaster or equipment failure will occur.  Then you would have grpahite fires, as occured with the Haas nuke plant when a defective nuclear pebble got stuck and the machinery feeding radiactive material to the plant stopped working, starting a radioactive graphite fire!

    So cross nuclear power off the list before you start a Clean Energy counter-proposal written by me and several other energy-savvy people on KOS.  We'll just up the renewables percentage by 2020 and eliminate the nuke research and expanded coal use.  Please do that now woth your plan so we don't have to.

    Why research something that is not clean, not renewable, not progressive, pro-corporatist and the most lethal form of power to the environment around.  

    For God's sake, the radioactive waste is just piling up.  But you don't care. Act Number 13--and by the way 13 is supposed to be an unlucky number--advocates testing new nukes while a Waste Storage site has still not been opened in the US for radioactive waste (and likely never will be).

    This plan even advocates the expansion of strip-mining in Number 14.  Gee, thanks for just wiping whole places off the face of the Earth for 50 years so we can burn additional coal and help bring on global warming.  Why don't we just hire the additional miners to manufacture additional wind turbines and solar PV tech instead?

    Plus 20% is a pathetic figure to shoot for in renewables. With hydro power, aren't we already at 11% or 12%?  Don't expand coal--reduce it.  Your coal talk paves the way for a New Coal Rush, and the coal industry is already trying to quietly site 100 new plants over the next several years.

    VERY disappointed.  I plan to fight this anyway I can, and I ask all KOS progressives to carefully research PBMRs, "clean-coal" and also the Pollution credits.

    The rest of the plan is TOTALLY RIGHT ON and I support it 100%.  But number 13 and 14 are simply watered-down versions of industry propaganda.  I respect Jerome, but whichever author snuck in Number 13 and 14 ought to have it out with me right here and now on "intrinsically safe" nuclear power.

    And don't confuse the issue with tritium-powered future fantasies.  You're clearly talking Pebble Nukes, so let's debate Pebble Nukes--so Kossaks can understand how they are simply another turn of the corporatist rusty coat hanger.

    Sorry to be so harsh, but I really feel Jerome let this plan be hijacked by the pro-nuke cell here on KOS that I have long believed is paid by the nuclear industry to influence blogs as part of the new Pebble Nuke PR push.

    With Number 13 and 14 included, this is NOT a plan that Progressives should support.  

    Expanding Nukes and Coal is simply not necessary and I dare anyone to tell me why we cannot increase renewables by more than 9% in 15 years.

    •  Here is non-industry Pebble Nuke info: (4.00)
      The industry says that Pebble Nukes are "inherently safe".  Like nukes being "too cheap to meter", this is another DAMN LIE from the nuclear industry, Bush and Cheney.  In fact the one large-scale Pebble Nuke ever built got a pebble stuck in a feeder tube, and as a result a 2-kilometer area around the Hamm-Ubentrop plant was contaminated with radiation.

      In 1985, the experimental THTR-300 PBMR on the Ruhr in Hamm-Uentrop, Germany was also offered as accident proof--with the same promise of an indestructible carbon fuel cladding capable of retaining all generated radioactivity... The West German government revealed that on May 4, the 300-megawatt PBMR at Hamm released radiation after one of its spherical fuel pebbles became lodged in the pipe feeding the fuel to the reactor.


      The Pebble Bed Modular Reactor (PBMR) is being re-introduced in an industry effort to revive an all-but-moribund nuclear power technology. The PBMR's basic design concept, the high-temperature gas-cooled reactor (HTGR), has been commercially abandoned time and again without tangible benefit over the past thirty years in England, France, Germany and with the 1967 and 1989 closures of the Peach Bottom Unit 1 and Fort St. Vrain reactors in the United States. Small HTGR non-power research reactors currently operate in Japan and China. For as many years, the concept has been offered as an "inherently safe" design.

      The current PBMR project is a hybrid of these past efforts and is piloted by an international conglomerate of U.S.-based Exelon Corporation (Commonwealth Edison, PECO Energy, and British Energy), British Nuclear Fuels Limited and South African-based ESKOM as "merchant" nuclear power plants. The consortium plans to begin the construction by 2002 of a full-size prototype of a 110 MW modular unit in Koeberg, South Africa. If successful, commercial operation would begin in 2006.

      Exelon hopes to use this prototype to obtain a license through the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to begin construction of seven new reactors on an unspecified site in the U.S. by the summer of 2004. The PBMR is proposed as a standardized design that can be built in as little as two years, with multiple modular units combined onto a single site.


      Unlike light water reactors that use water and steam, the PBMR design would use pressurized helium heated in the reactor core to drive a series of turbine compressors that attach to an electrical generator. The helium is cycled to a recuperator to be cooled down and returned to cool the reactor while the waste heat is discharged to the environment. Designers claim there are no accident scenarios that would result in significant fuel damage and catastrophic release of radioactivity.

      These industry safety claims rely on the heat resistant quality and integrity of the tennis ball-sized graphite fuel assemblies or "pebbles," 400,000 of which are continuously fed from a fuel silo through the reactor "little by little" to keep the reactor core only marginally critical. Each spherical fuel element has an inner graphite core embedded with thousands of smaller fuel particles of enriched uranium (up to 10 %) encapsulated in multi-layers of non-porous hardened carbon. The slow circulation of fuel through the reactor provides for a small core size that minimizes excess core reactivity and lowers power density, all of which is credited to safety.

      However, so much credit is given to the integrity and quality control of the coated fuel pebbles to retain the radioactivity that no containment building is planned for the PBMR design. While the elimination of the containment building provides a significant cost savings for the utility--perhaps making the design economically feasible--the trade-off is public health and safety.

      The protective containment building also is nixed because it would hinder the design's passive cooling feature of the reactor core through natural convection (air cooling). Exelon also proposes a dramatic reduction in additional reactor safety systems and procedures (i.e. no emergency core cooling system and a reduced one-half mile emergency planning zone as compared to a 10-mile emergency planning zone for light water reactors) to provide for further reducing PBMR construction and operation costs.

      To date, however, Exelon has not submitted to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission descriptions of challenges that could lead to a radiological accident such as a fire that ignites the combustible graphite loaded into the core. Fire and smoke then become the transport vehicle for radioactivity released to the environment from damaged fuel.

      In addition, the lack of containment would require 100%-perfect quality control in the manufacture of the fuel pellets--an impossible goal. Imperfections in fuel pellet manufacture could lead to higher radiation releases during normal operation than is the case with conventional reactors.


      As Dr. Edward Teller, the father of the H-bomb said, "Sooner or later a fool will prove greater than the proof even in a foolproof system." Accidents can and do happen in the inherently dangerous business of splitting the atom. Human error occurs at every level of development, construction and operation of the process. Material and component failures along with aging can break down or defeat operational and safety systems.

      In 1985, the experimental THTR-300 PBMR on the Ruhr in Hamm-Uentrop, Germany was also offered as accident proof--with the same promise of an indestructible carbon fuel cladding capable of retaining all generated radioactivity. Following the April 26, 1986 Chernobyl nuclear reactor accident and graphite fire in Ukraine, the West German government revealed that on May 4, the 300-megawatt PBMR at Hamm released radiation after one of its spherical fuel pebbles became lodged in the pipe feeding the fuel to the reactor. Operator actions during the event caused damage to the fuel cladding.

      Radioactivity was released with the escaping helium and radioactive fallout was deposited as far as two kilometers from the reactor. The fallout in the region was high enough to initially be blamed on Chernobyl. Government officials were then alerted by scientists in Freiburg who reported that as much as 70 % of the region's contamination was not of the type of radiation leaking hundreds of miles away in Ukraine. Dismayed by an attempt to conceal the reactor malfunction and confronted with mounting public pressure in light of the Chernobyl accident only days prior, the state ordered the reactor to close pending a design review.

      Continuing technical problems including a lack of quality control resulting in damage to unused fuel pebbles and radiation-induced bolt head failures in the reactor's gas channels resulted in the unit's closure in late 1988. Citing doubts about reliability, the government refused to further subsidize utility funding and instead approved plans for decommissioning the reactor.


      A single 110-megawatt PBMR will produce 2.5 million irradiated fuel elements during a 40-year operational cycle. Nuclear waste remains dangerous over geological spans of time and a threat to life from radioactive contamination would persist long after a PBMR has closed. The health and environmental uncertainties associated with a historically mismanaged radioactive legacy from continued operation of nuclear technology is yet another reason the public will not accept the PBMR.--Paul Gunter, March 2001

      Nuclear Information and Resource Service

      1424 16th Street NW, #404,

      Washington, DC 20036.

      202-328-0002; fax: 202-462-2183;

      •  I am going to create Another Plan for (none)
        all Kossaks to vote on with other energy-savvy posters.

        Let's say we have a vote on Nov. 22, two weeks from Election Day tomorrow.

        You can vote for the Energize America Plan WITH Nukes and Coal expansion OR the the Energize America Plan WITHOUT Nukes and Coal.

        A two-week campaign, let all Kossaks vote, let the smartest plan win.

        Mateosf, are you with me?

        November 22, Plan9 and DevilsTower.  A straight up or down vote.  

        •  Please do (none)
          I'd welcome it.

          Though I'm still scratching my head over how a plan that calls for outlawing of valley fill, elimination of the clear skies program, and stricter regulation of power plants is a plan for "coal expansion."

          Political Cortex -- Brain food for the body politic.

          by Mark Sumner on Mon Nov 07, 2005 at 06:14:05 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  This plan clearly expands the use of coal (none)
            Touting liquefication, the currently non-existent sequestering of carbon, the "clean-coal" tech that the industry touts--and it even mentions the dozens of coal plants being planned right now as if that were a good thing.  

            Where is the opposition to the 94 coal plants that are being quietly permitted in the next 7 years where's that.  And you allow strip mining as long as the original contour is put back after decades of mining.

            All you did was get the worst form of strip-mining outlawed.  Good for you, but return to contour strip-mining is STILL strip-mining, so there goes the rest of West Virginia.

            My advice: take Act 13 and 14 and rework them so they are clearly simply reducing nukes and coal instead of funding them with more taxpayer subsidies and making sure there is less likelihood of a nuclear accident.

            Otherwise I, mateosf, and others will be able to clean your clock in the Nov. 22 election on the Energize America Plan.  Previous polls on KOS have shown an overwhelming majority are against expanding nukes and coal.

            Let's just focus on breakthroughs and renewables and conservation.  I will call off the Nov. 22 vote if you let me and mateosf revise Act 13 and 14 accordingly.

      •  This polemic comes from an antinuclear power (none)
        nuclear phobia-pandering" group NIRS that does not acknowledge or list their major donors on their website

        They oppose any and all forms of nuclear power, and use any and all reasons/rationalizations to attack it.

        For example

        They attack conventional open cycle nuke power because of  high level waste storage probs and accumulation of Pu making bombs

        They attack MOX and closed fuel cycle nuclear power (which Europe and Japan are embracing because it peacefully reprocesses and  burns off Pu-239 from spent fuel for power generation, reduces U mining and enrichment demands, and reduces volume of high level waste/ storage),  as a "bailout for a failed industry" , and cause reactors to age and fail prematurely

        Hmmm. Sounds familiar, Same reasons they use above to *slam pebble reactors:  "bailout for a failed industry"  and 'makes reactors very dangerous'


    •  For me, the entire point of ... (none)
      ...13 and 14 are to force the industry to PROVE - through demonstration plants - that their ideas ARE more than propaganda, and that they can meet all the environmental and safety regulations that are now and should be required. Expansion of a safe nuclear design would, as we make clear in the proposal, depend on a solution being found for waste disposal. If none ever is, then there will be no expansion of nukes in the U.S.

      Speaking for myself, I don't think they can do it, but I am sick of listening to them say that their proposals are the magic bullets without which America can never be energy independent. It's my opinion that demonstration projects, as proposed, will shut them up for good.

      As for your proposal to push renewables to produce more than 20% of U.S. electricity needs by 2020, good luck. Just getting to 20% with no new hydro would be a remarkable feat. Denmark, which has the most aggressive renewables program in the world, and has been working on making the changeover from fossil fuels since 1981, expects to generate 35% of its power with renewables by 2030. That's an increase of 1% a year for the next 25 years. And it's a step back from the 30% Danes had originally planned for 2020.

      Once renewables have a firm industrial base in the United States, which the RPS goals we support would help provide, we could count on a more rapid expansion of these forms of energy in the post-2020 world. The utility industry already opposes a 20% goal, and setting a higher goal guarantees considerable opposition in Congress, where a good energy plan must already clear numerous hurdles.

      As for your accusation that we are paid shills or have been hijacked by paid shills of a pro-nuke "cell" on Daily Kos, "sorry to be so harsh," but this is a paranoid fantasy. As someone with a history dating back to the 1970s of writing unfavorably about nuclear power plant safety regulations and whose investigative articles led to the shutdown of a Union Carbide uranium milling operation in Colorado, I recommend you libel someone else.

      •  I don't think you and David in NYC (none)
        are shills for the energy industry, I'm not sure about others however.

        But if you are not paid by the nuke industry, you have simply fallen for their line on the future.

        The plan says outright:

        "To get nuclear power moving again"

        Then it lists all the sneaky plans of the industry such as "intrinsically safe" designs (which as I have proved through Google were deemed "unsafe" by Germany in 1986).  Even if the plant had accidents, we all know the NRC would rule it safe.  They do that all the time!  That  means we have unsafe Pebble Nukes going up all over the place and without containment buildings.

        Act 13 and 14 clear the way for the industry to expand the coal and nukes which have been so rightly stalled for all these decades.

        Then you say there must be waste disposal but that it will never be perfect.  That really leaves the door wide open for expansion as well.

        And this is exactly what the industry line is:

        "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."

        It's like Montgomery Burns wrote this.

        •  Nuclear and coal are not options in the short term (none)
          What you and others may not realize is that there is no way to get from here to pure "green" energy in the remaining time we have available before oil production peaks and begins to seriously decline forever. We have two choices - billions die off or we use bridge energy sources like coal and nuclear til we can get rid of those too. Now, if you don't want to use the bridge energy sources, just who do you propose we kill first to get back within the limits of the planet's biological carrying capacity?

          In case you had not noticed, the planet is about 200% (at least) over maximum human carrying capacity and the only reason we've been able to do this is fossil fuels. In other words, we are burning the planet's entire savings over the last several hundred million years to support a "binge" by our species. Thus, we are almost exactly where it was predicted we'd be in the Club of Rome's Limits to Growth report. Even the 30 year update confirms that we are more than ever in deep trouble. We can either peacefully reduce our population for several generations (which includes having enough energy to keep the peace) or we can let nature handle it in its own cruel normal manner.

          Currently we get about 1/6th of 1% of the US energy production from green alternatives. Even if that industry grew 100% per year over the prior year for 5 years, we'd still have only 5% of the country using green energy. This is precisely why this entire plan uses the SMART goals - because they are still achievable but will require an extremely aggressive push from the entire nation including governmental support.

          Nuclear and coal both have to be seen as "bridge" energy sources that we want to eventually get rid of for all normal uses except perhaps specialized scientific research. And the fossil hydrocarbons are actually more valuable to human society for uses other than fuel (chemical feedstock for medicines, fertilizers, etc.) so it's in our interest to not burn all the coal, just only as much as we need to get from here to a green future.

          The alternative, without bridge energy sources, is vast human suffering which even without George Bush in the White House will lead to some nations going to war over remaining energy sources.

          •  Second! (none)
            I think you're absolutely right on this. We are way overboard on the carrying capacity, and that's really because we have this cheap energy source. If (when) it runs out suddenly there is going to be mass suffering.

            Liberal Thinking

            Think, liberally.

            by Liberal Thinking on Thu Nov 10, 2005 at 09:30:22 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

  •  Suggestions about language (none)
    I'm a fine one to point this out, but the less latinate the language, the better.  

    Short sentences rather than ones with subordinate clauses.

    Avoid the passive voice whenever possible.

  •  The energy security frame lost us ANWR. What next? (none)
    Our opponents are using this exact language. Ted Stevens,  R-Alaska (not known as a skilled persuader outside of Fairbanks) illustrates the point in his support for drilling ANWR (just approved in the Senate):  

    • "America needs this American oil"  
    • He called opposition to pumping the refuge's oil "ostrich-like" and said it "ill-serves our nation this time of energy crisis.
    • "American dependence on foreign oil threatens our national security. We now rely on unstable and unfriendly regimes to meet our energy needs. ..."

    This ANWR-drilling lingo is almost identical to the language used as the top two principles in this diary: first the two words-- "national security"-- and then later the unfortunate phrase "energy policies that leave America vulnerable."  

    The national security frame may seem like smart politics.  On the plus side, it exploits fear and taps into the isoloationist impulse.  It's also a lot better than most of what the GOP means by national security.

    But I would argue it muddies the issue. The language in the end hurts our ability to focus clearly on the very real threat of global warming--which is the point here, after all.  We desperately need a new era of international cooperation to deal with the problem--not national solutions.  

    Note:  This isn't about some call for political purity--any more than the Marshall Plan or the creation of the UN.  This is about the political vision democrats need to be promoting as a real alternative to the GOP.  One that's international in its outlook--not isoloationist.  Anything less is pointless.


    I had my own blog for a while, but I decided to go back to just pointless, incessant barking. --Cartoon Dog, The New Yorker

    by markymarx on Sun Nov 06, 2005 at 09:46:08 PM PST

    •  Agree and disagree (none)
      While I'll grant you that the language is too darn similar to some of that being used to justify making a pincushion of our nation, the security angle is too imporant to drop.

      We're going to have to find the phrasing that says "for the security of our country, we have to have a diverse energy source, not more oil" in a way that rings true.

      Political Cortex -- Brain food for the body politic.

      by Mark Sumner on Sun Nov 06, 2005 at 10:02:57 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  a race to the bottom (none)
        So, in the long run more domestic oil and coal will be burned in the US and in places like China--making both countries more "secure" and "independent." Meanwhile, without no real international focus, no international agreements on climate change.

        We need a blueprint that focuses on a positive, alternative, internationalist approach that is serious about global warming.  Anything less is pointless.

        I had my own blog for a while, but I decided to go back to just pointless, incessant barking. --Cartoon Dog, The New Yorker

        by markymarx on Sun Nov 06, 2005 at 10:27:38 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  ok (none)
          the line "without no international focus" is kind of funny, but
          i meant to say -- "with no international focus"

          I had my own blog for a while, but I decided to go back to just pointless, incessant barking. --Cartoon Dog, The New Yorker

          by markymarx on Sun Nov 06, 2005 at 10:29:20 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  In the short run (none)
          We're going to burn coal.  China is going to burn coal.

          It's there, it's cheap, and there are hundreds of power plants already configured to use it.

          However, the plan calls for much stricter regulation of those plants than is now provided, outlaws the most egregious form of mining, and by pushing more renewables into the system, sets up a competition that coal ultimately must lose.

          Political Cortex -- Brain food for the body politic.

          by Mark Sumner on Mon Nov 07, 2005 at 05:35:43 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  again (none)
            If the plan isn't based --first and foremost--on the need for international agreements and cooperation--then there is no real plan to deal with climate change.

            I had my own blog for a while, but I decided to go back to just pointless, incessant barking. --Cartoon Dog, The New Yorker

            by markymarx on Mon Nov 07, 2005 at 07:08:35 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  Get more from coal (none)
            To the extent we continue to burn coal (or gas, or biomass) for electric, we should be capturing the "waste" heat now dumped in waterways. In the 1930s, the coalfired plant in downtown Madison provided heat to over 1000 buildings. The valves were shut in 1939, and the lines were allowed to rot.

            The downtown plant was replaced in 1950, and is now used for peak capaccity, a larger and much cleaner coal unit having been built 30 miles away. These older units in city centers should be retrofit for cleaner inputs (biomass?) and new plumbing laid to capture the heat, at least for new buildings in the area.

            A Senator YOU can afford
            $1 contributions only.
            Masel for Senate
            1214 E. Mifflin St.
            Madison, WI 53703

            by ben masel on Mon Nov 07, 2005 at 08:37:12 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

  •  "If we can't phrase the goals and ideas (none)
    behind the plan effectively, it will never get off the ground."

    I couldn't agree more. Before we delve into any policy, the purpose and goals need to be stated with Constituional-like clarity. That said, the language of the four principles is clear, resonant, and logical. Thanks for doing this. This is such a solid  piece of work.

    Child abuse, terrorism, greed, pollution, discrimination, war, rape and the nuclear brink. Disrespect is the matrix. Respect is the vision that we need to see.

    by respectisthecentralissue on Sun Nov 06, 2005 at 09:53:27 PM PST

  •  Excellent work! (none)
    Here are a few suggestions for your principles and statements of direction:

    1. Combine the principles about boosting energy diversity and investing in renewable energy, since the latter is how you are achieving the former. The total package would, as you say, strengthen national security, create jobs and enhance America's technological leadership.

    2. At the beginning of your energy efficiency statement delete "Though conservation has often been derided, and its importance minimized." The rest of the paragraph works just fine without this somewhat defensive intro.

    3. The paragraph beginning with "Innovation is an American birthright..." should be moved up to the energy efficiency section.
  •  I chuckled at the Telecommuting (none)
    Assistance Act. Should rename it the Outsourcing Encouragement Act. Any company that can have a 5 day per week telecommuter will save a lot more than a $2000 per year tax credit by immediately shipping that job overseas. In this business climate, it's suicide for the Democratic Party to encourage telecommuting.
    •  I struggle with this one (none)
      I was part of a company for five years where everyone but the sales staff and the office manager worked from home.  I loved that company.  I supposed we could have tried to outsource some of the positions, but we never did.  The chemistry was just too good -- even if it was "over the phone" chemistry.  

      However, the potential for outsourcing is why there's a stricture against it in the proposal.  The act itself is there because several studies have shown telecommuting as one of ways in which we could get large, immediate savings in oil consumption (no technology beats not driving at all).  

      If I could start telecommuting again, I would, and risk the threat of outsourcing.

      Political Cortex -- Brain food for the body politic.

      by Mark Sumner on Sun Nov 06, 2005 at 10:11:06 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I know what you mean about chemistry. (none)
        I work in a biotech company that has about 42 people and great chemistry is very important to our success, but we all have to physically be there. I might try it if it was just me, but I wouldn't take the chance with my family's future in a telecommuting career in these times. Just too easy to be cut off at the knees by outsourcing and the incentive$ are too great.
  •  Some Additions (4.00)
    Dear Devil,

    Here are a few suggestions that would blend in nicely with your proposal:

    1. For wind turbines, implement a Renewable Feed-In Law, possibly using regional electricty rates. These would avoid the horrid permutations needed to use the PTC, and avoid the billions in tax credits that allow the very rich to lower their taxes, even more. Or take the PTC and change it so that it applies to ACTIVE and PASSIVE income, not just passive income. Feed-In Laws have worked wonders in Germany and Spain, allow for significantly faster implementation of wind turbine financing, allow large AND small projects to occur, and at no taxpayer expense.

    2. Eliminate the Price-Anderson Act, a subsidy for the nukes worth about $400 million per reactor per year. And charge the going disposal rate for all spent fuel  the minute fuel rods are placed in their "swimming pools". And allow states to tax spent fuel, as a way to discourage its generation. Nukes may be a way to make electricity, but they are a very expensive way to do so - and this should not be given "welfare Cadillac" status.

    3. Tax all thermal electrical power plants on their waste heat produced after allowing that 85% is about the thermodynamic limit for efficency. For example, a coal burner that is 40 % efficent dumps 60 % of the energy of combustion into the air via cooling towers, or into a nearby water heat sink. With cogeneration, at least that same amount of energy in the form of low grade thermal energy could be used - for heat, for industry, for ethanol distillation/bimass fermentation, for heat pumps, etc. If these plants do not use the waste thermal heat (turbine exhaust steam), they should be severely taxed - perhaps $200 million/year for a 1000 MW plant. Odds are, the plant owners will have to drum up users/convert neigboring plants to use them as their process heat/room and office heat source, and maybe new biomass plants will need to get built next to such plants. But cogeneration works - and to NOT use it (i.e. be stupid, environmentally speaking) is not good. So a carrot and stick approach. This would also apply to nukes, who are lucky to get to 35 % thermal efficiency.

    4. Encourage the movement of electricity intensive industries (Aluminum from Bauxite, Chloralkalis, Magnesium, Titanium, Silicon Carbide/Silicon) to areas with huge wind resourses, or near such areas.

    5. Encourage the use of wind turbine/tidal turbine derived electricity to produce H2 (not for cars and trucks and fuel cells!) that will be used to replace the H2 currently made by natural gas steam refoming. Tax any oil and gas used to make H2 quite intensely. This will, in effect, put more renewable energy "on the farm" via ammonia made from renewable derived H2. This H2 can also be used to extend existing oil (converts heavy oils to lighter fractions, removes sulfur) supplies, and can also be used to directly hydrogenate coal, thus avoiding the production of 6.5 lbs of CO2 per lb of diesel/gasoline thhat will be made in any "Sin-Fuel" approach, where coal and steam is converted to H2, CO and CO2. The remaining 3.15 lbs of CO2 made per lb of hydrocarbon burned (from coal derived liquid fuels) will be bad enough, environmentally speaking.

    6. Get people used to 8 to 10 cents/kw-hr for the manufactured price of electricity (does not include T & D costs/profits/etc). At this price (now cheaper than can be made with natural gas and oil), wind will provide the bulk of our new supplies of electricity as long as coal burners dispose of the CO2 pollutant properly (which will cost between 2 to 4 cents/kw-hr, according to the DOE/OSTI references).

    Anyway, a great project you have here. Good luck, for all our sakes.


    •  Dude/dudette, (none)
      You are the man/woman.

      I second deb9's post, and raise her/him a six pack of PBR and a bag of chips.

      This clearly comes from someone "in the family": co-gen, renewable tap rules, kill the bloated P-A, waste heat penalties ... you're only lacking a mandatory 3% set-aside for utility-funded DSM programs, accelerated DOE appliance standards with utility-funded upgrade incentives, and bond capability for municipal transmission from disgen wind farms.

      My kind of Kossack ...

      I am the federal government.

      by mateosf on Mon Nov 07, 2005 at 12:11:48 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  PBR = Peanut Butter & Rasberry Sandwich (none)

        Thanks for the words of support. In case you haven't noticed, I'm not much of a nuke fan - and we haven't even mentioned The Bomb (any of 3 flavors, fission, fisson-fusion (= neutron), and fission-fusion-fision (County-Busters)), which is the ugly steaming pile  in the room whereever nukes as power generation devices are mentioned that comes along with nukes, like a shadow of doom that one cannot shed.

        And your suggestions are also great - part of the package, so to speak. But a lot of those are natural consequences of letting the price of electricity rise to a more "real"/less subsidized level. In some parts of the US, electricity is very cheap, and thus not highly valued, and often wasted/used inefficiently. These subsidies squeeze renewables out of the market, and also tend to inhibit the use of more efficient uses of electricity, and energy in general.

        So, one more suggestion. Have the Federal government mail every household/appartment one new compact fluorescent bulb, and a little brochure as to why they could either use this, or send their first born off as a cannon-fodder servo-protein in a present and/or future oil/natural gas based resource war....Well, maybe a bit more diplomatic brochure. In NY, our delivered electricity price averages between 15 to 20 cents/kw-hr for November, 2005. That means a 100 watt incandescent will cost $15 to $20 over its 1000 hour lifetime. A 20 watt compact fluorescent would cost $3 to $4 to operate over the same 1000 hours. And the compact one will last about 10,000 hours, so the higher cost ($8/bulb) will get amortized by its longer lifetime. Odds are, it pays for itself in less than a year. This would be a small, but LOW cost demonstration that being smart and energy-frugal is cool, and being inefficient with energy is not cool. Besides, people always tend to like a freebie. And a tax on incandescents (a stupid tax) would not hurt, either - funds to go, initially, to rebuilding any factories in the US which make incandescents with new lighting modes, like LED's, compact fluorescents and Xenon plasma discharge (see Seimens website) "flat panel" lighting systems.


        •  DSM & etc. (none)
          Well put.

          One disagreement - Forcing utilities to set aside a portion of gross receipts (2-3%) for DSM funds is the only way to make it happen in states where energy is cheap. And they hate, hate, hate it, even though they end up saving big money - a-la Lovins/negawatts. But DSM also gets you the "CF bulb in the mail," as the local utility will order them by the tens of thousands and send them to their customers in order to meet the percentage requirement.

          So we've gotta have some sort of national DSM push; states like yours where costs already more than justify the expense won't be impacted, but states like Utah, Wyoming, Arizona, Colorado, Montana etc. that want to keep building big, dirty coal will be forced to tihnk twice.

          Also, IMHO, even mentioning "allowing the cost of electricity to rise" is a political death wish in conservative states.

          My $0.02. And surely will be seeing you round the 'Kos ...


          I am the federal government.

          by mateosf on Mon Nov 07, 2005 at 08:26:41 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  I disagree with #3 (none)

      If it was economically practical to do heat recycling, they'd be doing it.  It makes little sense to try to give power companies generous subsidies to expand into renewable power, while slapping what is essentially a huge punative burden on them.

      •  You've never sat in a room with (none)
        coal utility executives, have you?

        "Economically practical" and "coal power" are oxymorons and do not belong in the same sentence ...

        And again, your fabled "generous renewables subsidies" don't appear to exist anywhere except in your posts in this diary.

        I am the federal government.

        by mateosf on Fri Nov 11, 2005 at 05:45:49 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Please email me to further discuss if possible... (none)
      I don't see your email address on your main diary page, so if you get this and are interested in furthering this discussion for the next iteration please email me at gkarayannis at hotmail dot com.  Thx.

      Demand Energy Security by 2020!

      by Doolittle Sothere on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 07:34:44 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  My Libertarian streak has 2 questions (none)
    First off great job and thanks for putting in all the time for this.


    It seems this will take a rather large amount of money to fund.  Will there be any cutting of wasteful government programs first, to keep a balanced budget?

    Also, the 1 cent per month tax seems pretty high to me when we get 4-5 years down the road.  Even as we get cars with better gas milage, people will shed their guzzlers, causing them to be available for cheap.  And the poor will end up buying them, so the tax will actually hurt the poor more than the rich who can afford the new hybrids.
    Any chance the tax can be lowered a bit as the years go by?

  •  Passenger Rail is a good idea, and (none)
    I'd keep the part about the Northeast corridor from Boston to Washington. High population density and significant business/tourist attractions at either end of the line.

    My second choice would be a moderately high population density line ending in Orlando or Tampa/St. Pete. A high speed line along the I-75 corridor, with feeders to the west, from Chicago, and the east from Cleveland, Akron and Pittsburg, would allow snowbirds and families from the Rust Belt to reach major tourist attractions and wintering grounds. The north-south part of the line picks up people from Detroit, Toledo, Dayton, Cincinnati ... I'm sure the population density is high enough at either end to justify the economics of the line. Lots of colleges and universities along those lines to help fuel ridership by people without cars. Can't forget Spring Break, either.

    One of the significant problems of rail travel is the need for local transportation when the train reaches the destination. The Orlando destinations would happily provide ground transportation from the station.

  •  Geothermal must be strongly encouraged (none)
    as the preferential method of cooling for most single family dwellings, unless you are building directly on rock. It's 55 degrees 6 to 8 feet underground and all you have to do is circulate some water in a closed loop in plastic pipes to bring it up to the surface. Vertical well or horizontal loop and no freon necessary. What a simple system and it would probably cut summer cooling energy consumption by 40% in most single family dwellings.

    And don't get me started about using captured condensation from the geothermal AC to water your garden. It's like distilled water with no chlorine to yellow your plants. Just so good all around.

    You can heat with it, too. No carbon dioxide emissions, but you're back into freon then. Only get about 20% energy savings in the heat mode.

  •  SHORTEN THIS (none)
    To about 100th of its current length. Then people might actually read it.
    •  elevator speech (none)
      You can't shorten the plan, but including an elevator speech that embodies the main policy points would be useful.

      George W. Bush does not want you to read the above...

      by mbryan on Mon Nov 07, 2005 at 01:35:25 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  The short version is included: (none)

      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

      Then you have the slightly less short version, with a paragraph for each of these items, and then you have the long version with the legislative proposals. The diary includes all 3, plus accompanying commentary, and is thus longer...

      In the long run, we're all dead (Keynes)
      Read more on the European Tribune - bringing dKos to Europe

      by Jerome a Paris on Mon Nov 07, 2005 at 03:03:32 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Great work! (none)
    This kind of forward thinking is exactly what the country needs. I'm working with Allan Lichtman's US Senate campaign in Maryland. He's already pledged that if elected he'll author legislation to reduce our nations dependence on fossil fuels by 50% in twenty years. I'll talk to him about endorsing your plan and making it part of the campaign.

    6 times as many people die every year because conservatives oppose universal health care than were killed on 9/11. Who is America's real enemy?

    by Theo McCarthy on Mon Nov 07, 2005 at 12:09:25 AM PST

  •  framing (none)
    forgive me if i'm rehearsing a dead subject on this thread, it's quarter to three in the morning and i haven't had the time to read through all of the comments.

    the authors of this wonderful energy policy have said that it is more than a scheme for getting more democrats elected in 2006 or 2008. and also that "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."

    to which i say kudos. in our collective obsession with framing and partisan warfare, we shouldn't forget the actual meat of government. as as far as getting more democrats in office, i think it's a pretty nice bonus too: one without which we may not be able to get any of the proposed legislation passed.

    therefore, i am myself interested in schemes to get more democrats in congress in 06 and 08. i've been working on a project to frame a progressive energy policy (such as this one). the first draft is now up here.  For those of you interested in this aspect of the project, please drop by.

  •  great, great diary (none)
    props to all 3 of you!

    typos: 'dependent' in 1st para under graphic

    in para starting: 'by creating that demand....' there's a 'meat' instead of 'meet'

    there were also a couple of sentences where you repeat yourself:  one was-energy policy is a process. (this kinda works!:))

    and another more serious one near the beginning that i've reread 6 times to refind, but eludes me now.
    maybe you already edited it out in between my refreshes!

    it was a chunk, prolly got pasted twice, 4-5 lines in length.

    i am so encouraged by the high quality thought that has obviously gone into hammering this out.

    the dkos collective brain is an awesome, emerging phenomenon.

    you, mb, and jerome.....

    just so grateful for your input on this stuff...


    why? just kos..... *just cause*

    by melo on Mon Nov 07, 2005 at 02:24:05 AM PST

  •  Timely articles in the NYT (4.00)

    When Cleaner Air Is a Biblical Obligation

    WASHINGTON, Nov. 6 - In their long and frustrated efforts pushing Congress to pass legislation on global warming, environmentalists are gaining a new ally.

    With increasing vigor, evangelical groups that are part of the base of conservative support for leading Republicans are campaigning for laws that would reduce carbon dioxide emissions, which scientists have linked with global warming.

    In the latest effort, the National Association of Evangelicals, a nonprofit organization that includes 45,000 churches serving 30 million people across the country, is circulating among its leaders the draft of a policy statement that would encourage lawmakers to pass legislation creating mandatory controls for carbon emissions.

    And Now to 'Streamline' King Coal's Beheading of Appalachia

    Six years ago, Jim Weekley, a watchful retiree in Appalachia, became angry enough to defend his seven-tenths-of-an-acre homestead in West Virginia's Pigeon Roost Hollow from a gargantuan mining process with a formidable name - mountaintop removal - that tells only half the truth.

    The other half is the obliteration of countless streams, forests and hamlets lying below as mountaintops are systematically decapitated with dynamite to leave mesa-like tabletops. Rich low-sulfur coal veins are thereby exposed and mammoth 20-story-tall bulldozers move in to dump millions of tons of slag waste down into mountain hollows like Pigeon Roost.


    The machines operate round the clock across four states, and from the air the earth scars resemble tracts of moonscape peeling nonstop across verdant Appalachia.


    Last month, the Bush administration demonstrated just how regal King Coal remains when it issued a long-delayed report on mountaintop removal that callously announced that "these expensive studies" on damages to the countryside have become too "exorbitant" to be continued.

    That's right: the Department of Interior bureaucracy, stacked with key political appointees from the mining industry, would bury the mountaintop abuses and complaints like so much slag under the government's deficit-bloated budget.

    In the long run, we're all dead (Keynes)
    Read more on the European Tribune - bringing dKos to Europe

    by Jerome a Paris on Mon Nov 07, 2005 at 03:09:05 AM PST

  •  What about a little $ for public education? (none)
    I know this isn't what you're thinking about, but I'm trying to think about the next generation as well as their parents.  How about including a little money to schools for energy education?  Recycling certainly benefitted from getting schoolkids involved; the public is woefully ignorant of everything about energy except the price of gasoline.  Not a lot.  Maybe $100m for pilot projects in school districts that believe in science.
  •  Minor issue -- (none)
    Perhaps it is time to figure out a second posting place for .pdf or other printer friendly version.  This has a lot of meet and merits serious attention offline.
  •  Automotive mileage and pollution credit act (none)
    Let me say this diary represents a fantastic effort.  I have printed it out and will use it as a resource for my local sustainability group.

    I do have questions about the automotive mileage and pollution credit act.  I would like to learn more about the thinking you did to create this section.  Is it a tax credit against income, or a rebate, if so, where will the $$$ come from?  I was confused by this section and somewhat unconvinced by your arguments.

    Also, I am discouraged by how abysmally bad our transit system is in this country.  What kinds of incentives can be created for carpooling, ridesharing, taxi vouchers, and other smaller transit options? Do they need to be included in this plan?

    Deb9's recommendations on wind seemed very well informed, from what I am starting to learn about wind energy.

    In your section on coal burning, I'd look for some recognition of the problem of mercury emissions, which are a huge health problem.

    Overall I am very excited about some of the visionary aspects of this plan.  Do we have a snowball's chance in hell of getting the gas tax increased as you proposed? I worry that in its execution it would become another pork barrel program.  I am suspicious about the staying power of federal programs and wonder about ways to support more innovation on the state and local level.

  •  I like what this plan doesn't say (none)
    Namely:  Take the government back from the oil companies.
  •  Telecommuter assistance act (none)
    Great idea! I think, sadly, it is directed at the wrong people. As much as I would like to collect a tax credit for working from home, it is employers whose minds must be changed on this issue.

    Give employers an even larger credit for permitting and supporting work-from-home. It will have a much more profound effect than crediting the telecommuters themselves.

  •  I'm curious (none)
    why inter-state rail travel wasn't given more attention beyond two high-speed demonstrations. Jet fuel is EXTREMELY expensive and driving airlines to remove service from many areas in a search to reduce costs.

    Why not a revitalization of AMTRAK, with more funding, modern engines and cars and return of service to some routes, even if only once a day?

    I'm no expert on these matters, but the disappearance of rail travel has been a crime, and driven as much or more by ideology as by use.

  •  Basic Research (none)
    There needs to be some focus on basic research. There is an acknowledgement of targeted research in the plan, but this is engineering, not physics.

    One promising area is fusion (I know it has been discussed above). The boron-hydrogen articles do not meet scientific standards of peer review. So this is an open area.

    On the other hand there have been some developments with collapsing microbubbles that do seem promising. An effort of $30-50 billion per year worldwide is not unreasonable for a Manhattan Project type of effort. The current $3-5 billion is woefully inadequate.

    While this document is a set of goals (perhaps even some of mine have leaked into it) it needs to be supplemented in several ways.

    First, there needs to be some time lines and priorities assigned as well as the level of funding expected at each stage.

    Second, there needs to be a follow up discussion of how to overcome the resistance to change that always occurs when new ideas are attempted.

    My short essay on general obstacles (and a link to specific issues) here:
    Obstacles to Change

    Finally, there needs to be a discussion on how to bring these ideas to the attention of those in policy positions. The UN issues high minded documents that go nowhere. The Democrats are also working on a set of policy ideas. The issue is how to get them out of the ivory tower.

    Musings on Society: policies not politics

    by robertdfeinman on Mon Nov 07, 2005 at 08:59:19 AM PST

  •  Have you thought about adding (none)
    a good text editor to the team?  I don't mean an improved Notepad--but someone who understands both English grammar and rhetoric--and who can follow the numbers?

    Please understand, I'm in full support of the concepts and the strategy--but the phrasing is dreadful.

    For example, you really don't want to lose your audience in the first paragraph.  But you did.

    The paragraph is long; it begins and ends with "downer concepts", and it leaves the nay-sayers way too much fodder for criticism.

    The first thing to fix is the phrase "By their own admission"  By WHOSE admission?  Congress isn't a "they"; it is an "it".

    Next, let's beef up "anyone who is serious".  How about "Americans who value" instead.  For one thing, it gets rid of the circularity of using serious people seriously.  

    Oh, heck, let's just tear the whole thing apart, and put it back together with an upbeat, action emphasis....

    "Americans who value national and economic security know we must either act now to retake control of the energy we use, or [expect to dance for Chinese pipers (need a better phrase here)] within [x] years.
       Despite thirty years of wild fluctuations in the marketplace, declining domestic production, and frequent dire predictions from experts that world-wide petroleum production was nearing a peak, Congress has made little effort to address the issue of energy self-reliance.  Congress's own budget experts have concluded that the most recent energy legislation actually compounds the problem by driving the nation into greater dependency on imported oil, while doing nothing to address security or environmental issues.
       Regaining America's energy self-reliance will not happen overnight. But it will begin immediately, and it will offer immediate benefits. Those benefits start with innovative new jobs as we build a cleaner, greener and stronger America."

    I don't have the blogging skills to simply rewrite the entire plan in a new diary--and besides, the bullet-pointed sections are pretty good as they stand.

    Instead, I'm going to revise all of the transitional sections the way I did the first one in additional comments to this diary. You can take or leave my specific revisions--but I hope you will accept the spirit of them and switch the tempo of this presentation from dirge to march militaire.  

    •  Exactly what we need (none)
      Thanks. Email either of us with what you come up with; it will be read and, very likely used.

      In the long run, we're all dead (Keynes)
      Read more on the European Tribune - bringing dKos to Europe

      by Jerome a Paris on Mon Nov 07, 2005 at 02:24:57 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I'm willing & able to help edit next rev (none)
        I sent you and Devilstower an email, but wanted to post this here as well.  I write and edit very tight business text.  While I can't help you resolve the nuke / hydrogen tech debate, I can help you sharpen this crucial message to the point that it cuts anyone who reads it.  You've already got quite compelling content.  Now we need to make it concise, compelling and very easy to understand.  Let me know how I can help, as I'm leery of investing significant time editing if that work is already done or unnecessary.

        Demand Energy Independence by 2025!

        by Doolittle Sothere on Wed Nov 09, 2005 at 07:01:44 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  smart planning (none)
    I'd love to see some sort of initiative that takes into account smart, dense planning. Maybe tax incentives to developers who construct mixed-use (commercial and residential) tracts? Or who construct new subdivisions above a certain density? What are some good, federal-level ways to cut down on sprawl and commercial "miracle miles?" How about incentives to businesses who choose to relocate in densely-constructed downtowns, or at least within a short distance of medium- or high-density residential districts, as opposed to locating far from the population centers in low-density areas?
    •  Federal highway impact fees? (none)
      Develop a formula looking at expected (20 year?) highway use, and place a hefty tax when that figure exceeds a specified miles per household?

      A Senator YOU can afford
      $1 contributions only.
      Masel for Senate
      1214 E. Mifflin St.
      Madison, WI 53703

      by ben masel on Mon Nov 07, 2005 at 12:32:19 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  changing land use patterns (none)
      Altering land use patterns on a large scale would require changes along several fronts.  I'm brainstorming here.  This isn't an all-inclusive list:

      Increasing funding for mass transit.  Total funding, but also the federal share of capital.  The federal government pays for 80% of the capital cost of new road/highway projects and aviation projects while the federal share for capital costs of public transit projects is 50%.  Not a level playing field.  Clinton established an 80% match for transit, but Bush changed it back to 50%.  

      Projects that incorporate better land use and things like transit-oriented development should receive priority for federal matching funds.  Projects that encourage auto-centric sprawl should be at the bottom of the priority list.  

      Communities across the country need to change their zoning rules to allow for greater density and mixed uses.  Some are seeing the light and doing this now, most are not.  Right now, the primary reason that auto-centric, cul-de-sac neighborhoods separated from commercial activities are the only thing that get built are because of local zoning codes.  

  •  Direction: diversity (stylistic edit) (none)
    Build energy diversity to strengthen our national security: Diplomacy, homeland security and the economy are all connected through our energy policies.

    America's dependence on 60% imported oil (and growing) holds our foreign policy hostage and puts our servicemen and women at risk. If we compete with other nations for dwindling supplies, oil prices will inevitably rise, creating economic havoc and international tension as nations mobilize and arm to protect their competing interests.

    Oil is limited--but energy sources are abundant.  Diversifed energy sources and infrastructure will not only provide a stable and secure energy supply in times of oil shortages, but they will resist damage from natural disaster, accident, and sabotage.

    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.

  •  Direction: reject (style edit) (none)
    Can we leave this out altogether from the final draft?

    Mind you, there's a core idea here that we still need, but I think we need to rephrase it in a way that will attract the interest and the non-resistance of Joe/Jo Republican Voter.  There are times and places to rail about the sins of the Greedy Oil Party--but not here. We keep the rhetoric in our back pockets--and save it for attacking "energy" plans from the current Crew In Charge.

    We won't sell Chevys by attacking Fords, not unless there are only two cars on the market.

    The part that needs to stay in the plan is the part that constrains corporate greed.  

    If we deal with corporate greed in a preventative way--if we make it part of the plan to offer help to start-ups, to allow the mid-level players to stand alone, and if we impose windfall profit taxes on those businesses that try to corner a market (and stiff penalties on market manipulators)--that will be perceived as fair by most people.

    It might be worthwhile to rework the idea of the windfall profit tax to permit current energy corporations to exempt themselves from part of such a tax by plowing a proportional part of their windfall into the processes we want to encourage. This would provide a revenue-neutral way to fund energy research. We might look at allowing credits-against-windfall-tax for releasing patents to the public domain. I'm trying to think up ways to prevent corporations from buying out good technology and then deep-sixing it because it competes with their current industry.

  •  direction: promote conservation (style edit) (none)
    [Focus here: remove negative statements and/or rephrase in a positive way.]

    Promote energy efficiency and conservation to protect Americans and the environment: The simple truth is that current technology applied NOW will always have a greater immediate impact than new technology applied tomorrow.  

    A penny saved is worth MORE than a penny earned--because there are no taxes to be paid on the savings.  Similarly, energy saved is worth more than energy produced--because there are no production costs and no production side-effects.

    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.

    Conserving power will also help conserve our last wild places, our remaining clean water, and the very air we breathe - and free up billions of investment dollars in the process.  

    Energize America calls for protection of pristine public lands and provides ALL Americans with access to insulation against cold weather and more economical transportation alternatives.

    [This covers the poor among us--but notice how much more upbeat it is.]

  •  Direction: invest (style edit) (none)
    Invest in renewable energy to create jobs and enhance America's technological leadership:

    Innovation is an American birthright.  <snip the whine, here.> Thirty years ago, when America built the most advanced wind-turbines and automobiles, we also provided music and art education to all children in the public schools, and.... (List of stuff here. Including how we were fresh from the space-race-induced science/math education initiatives.)

    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.

    Public and private investments today in renewable energy will mean a better environment for our children tomorrow, well-paying jobs and an international lead in vital and exportable technologies.

  •  High speed rail... (none)
    Midwest: Minneapolis to Chicago.

    The distance is a lot shorter than California or the deep south.  And there's a lot of local interest.

  •  Marijuana proihibition and Energy demand (none)
    Not talking hemp here, rather the fact that prohibition has moved a substantial portion of medical and recreational production to indoor gardens running high power electric lighting.

    There's no real figures to cite, so I'll toss up a best guess of 160,000 grows running an average of 400 watts, running 15 hours a day, for an averaged usage of 40 megawatts.

    (For purposes of citation, "according to Wisconsin Court Certified Marijuana Expert Ben Masel, we could save 40 megawatts..."

    A Senator YOU can afford
    $1 contributions only.
    Masel for Senate
    1214 E. Mifflin St.
    Madison, WI 53703

    by ben masel on Mon Nov 07, 2005 at 12:53:50 PM PST

  •  The Rocky Mountain Institute (none) a place I refer people to all the time for all things efficiency-related:

    Their latest publication, "Winning The Oil Endgame", is a very thorough examination of how to wean the US (and the world) off of oil. They are VERY thorough researchers, and have the backing of major institutions (like the Pentagon) in their research.

    This link: Oil Endgame will take you to an online version of the book, where you can download a free PDF.

    What I like about RMI is that they position themselves on the side of sustainable, thoughtful business, knowing that when they can show business how sustainable development can be achieved while still supporting for-profit business plans, they are much more likely to get the attention of the decison-makers.

    And it's starting to work - slowly. From their book jacket: " There are many analyses of the oil problem. This synthesis is the first roadmap of the oil solution - one led by business for profit.

    There are successful business people out there who donate to RMI in order to fund studies so that their sustainablity gospel can be spread. I have no idea what it would cost to run a proposal like yours through their brain-mill, but I know who to ask.

    Visit their site and let me know what you think. I'll dig deeper if you see an alignment worth pursuing.  (*I haven't read every word of your proposal in detail - I'm late for an appointment - but it seems to strike many of the notes RMI has been sounding for quite some time. I"ll give it another look later tonight.)

    Cheers -

    "CAUTION: Cape does not enable user to fly." (Warning label on Batman costume.)

    by snowho on Mon Nov 07, 2005 at 06:11:44 PM PST

  •  Great Stuff, but re-think rail portion (none)
    I really like this list you put together, but I think you need to be brought up to speed on the passenger rail issue.  

    You are absolutely correct that we need more passenger trains.  They are far more energy efficient than planes and cars.  

    First of all, we already have a high speed rail line between  New York and Washington (and Boston)-- the Northeast Corridor (NEC) and it is very heavily used.  It generates around 45% of Amtrak's ridership.  

    The problem with the NEC is lack of investment in the infrastructure.  Amtrak's Acela trains can only reach their top speeds (150 mph)on 18 miles of the corridor because the track on the rest of it (and in some places, the overhead catenary) need desperatley to be upgraded.  

    Second, we don't need to build demonstration, German ICE or Japanese Shinkensen-style  lines.  The US Department of Transportation has already designated more than a dozen high speed rail corridors using existing rights-of-way for development.  Go to for details.  

    The problem is, that the federal government has never funded them so that they can be built, although the states are putting together plans to develop them once federal funding becomes available (In fact, the federal government doesn't even have a national transporation policy.  USDOT was supposed to develop one when the agency was created in the 60's but they never did).  

    Also, passenger rail has never been given a level playing field in which to operate.  Government policy and funding has overwhelmingly been skewed to highways and aviation for 80 years.  Public money was poured into these modes (and still is today) while the private railroads were left to build and maintain the track & signals and stations and pay property taxes on them.  That's why our pre-Amtrak passenger rail system went bankrupt and why Amtrak was created, but I'm digressing...

    Given that we need to re-develop our passenger rail system sooner rather than later, and given the cost to do it, it doesn't make sense to go from near zero to ICE-style in one step.  You're looking at a minimum of $8 million per mile for ICE/Shinkensen-style HSR plus the cost of acquiring the land for the rights-of-way to do it. For anyone thinking of Maglev here, you're looking at $13-15 million per mile

    The state plans mentioned above are for 110 mph trains using existing rail rights-of-way which is far cheaper-- about $4 million per mile.  These corridors can be built much faster than ICE-style lines can.  The ridership studies have already been done on some of the corridors, others are underway.  Other states, or groups of states are working on other steps in the process-- environmental impact, engineering and design, etc.  And virtually no land acquisition is necessary, only agreements with the freight railroads need to be drafted.  

    Granted conventional trains run on fossil fuel, but they are far more energy efficient than autos or planes.  Besides, they can be run on biodiesel.   In addition, hybrid locomotives already exist that are more efficient than conventional diesel locomotives:  

    Right now these hybrids are only in freight service, but a passenger locomotive can easily be designed  from this technology.  

    Also, fuel cell locomotives are being tested for service in the mining industry:

    Other research is under way:

    Some tweaking of the technology is probably all that is needed to make them viable for passenger locomotives.  

    The government needs to do following things if we are to expand our passenger rail system:  

    First:  make some adjustments/reforms to the current Amtrak model for providing passenger rail service.  

    Second:  fund passenger rail like other modes of transportation are funded-- with the federal government paying 80% of the capital cost (as is done with highways and aviation) and create an ongoing funding mechanism like other forms of transportation have.  

    Believe it or not, Congress is already very close to making these things happen.  Senate Bill 1516-- The Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act was just attached to a larger budget bill a couple of weeks ago.  Congressman Steve LaTourette R-OH is working on a companion bill in the House.  

    S 1516 passed in the senate overwhelmingly: 92-6.  It makes some needed changes to Amtrak and finally establishes a federal policy for passenger rail.  Of course, the administration opposes the bill, because they would prefer to dismantle most of Amtrak as it now exists rather than reform it properly.  More needs to be done, but S 1516 takes the first crucial steps toward proper reform. The main thing that S1516 lacks is the creation of a funding mechanism for rail.  

    There is already demand for passenger rail service in the US. The problem is supply and not enough investment in the rail infrastructure we already have.  Outside of the NEC, California, and the Pacific Northwest Corridor, there just isn't enough service, or no service at all plain and simple.  For the the trains that do exist, there is ususally only one frequency per day-- not enough to provide needed schedule flexibity for travelers.  

    But even in areas of the country that currently have only one Amtrak train per day on less than desirable infrastructure and often only during the middle of the night, ridership on those trains has been rising steadily, some by double digits in recent years and in many parts of the year, the trains run full.

    These trains also operate at average speeds of 45 mph because of heavy freight traffic and a general lack of investment in the infrastructure.  Simple upgrades to existing lines, improving signaling, double tracking in some areas, triple tracking in others, straightening out curves, and building tunnels in some mountainous areas is all that is needed to increase speeds, improve reliability, and add frequencies.  

    In conclusion, we don't really need demonstration lines.  We need a national passenger rail system that includes both high/higher speed corridors and long distance services.  The skeleton of that system already exists with existing Amtrak services, we just need to improve and expand on what we already have.  

    I'd say this is what we need to do:

    1. Develop a national transportation policy that emphasizes the need for energy efficiency/energy security and transportation security.  

    2.  Reform the Amtrak model beginning with what's in S 1516.

    3.  Build/fund ALL of the existing federally designated higher speed rail corridors (110 mph) and study the potential of others.  

    4.  Keep existing Amtrak routes intact, including the long distance trains, but fund infrastructure improvements to raise average train speeds, improve reliability, and add freqencies (and new routes where viable)so that much more of the traveling public can use them. East of the Mississippi, long distance trains can provide cohesiveness and increase the usability/viability of the various corridors by stitching them together and providing services that overlap the corridors. West of the Mississipi, the long distance trains can provide transportation to communities with few or no alternatives.  Aside: Greyhound and the airlines have been abandoning services in many medium and small western cities.  In some parts of the west, Amtrak trains are the only non-automobile form of transportation that is available.  

    5.  High speed rail corridors should include stations at airports where feasible.  This will allow airlines to elminate many money-losing short distance flights which will reduce our oil consumption and improve the financial health of the airlines.

    6.  Establish a network of feeder buses to feed passengers into the rail network where it is not cost-effective to provide rail service.

    Well, that's about it for now.  As I think more about this topic, I may come up with things to add.  I've just spent almost two hours on this and now my brain hurts... Time for a break
    •  addendum... (none)
      Just thought of something.  I didn't mean to imply that we shouldn't pursue ICE/TGV/Shinkensen-style trains at all. The way I should have explained it is that they should be a long range goal after we build the already designated, conventional, 110 mph corridors and upgrade the infrastructure on existing Amtrak long distance routes (and add several new ones on existing rights of way).  

      The 110 mph corridors are just about ready to go now. Conventional corridor trains in place already in California and the Pacific Northwest, have already been soundly proven that you don't need to have TGV-style trains to generate healthy

      If federal funding were in place now, all of the conventional corridors could be in the construction phase within 5 years (some sooner).  It would take many more years to get to the construction phase of TGV-style corridors because they have to be built on exclusive rights of way.  

      As it stands now, the place to build the first TGV-style route is in California.  California already has a fairly extensive network of state-supported inter-city trains, and they have been developing plans for TGV-style route connecting many of California's major cities.  

      Even Europe and Japan built their high speed rail corridors incrementally, segment by segment after their conventional system was already built.

      We need passenger trains and their energy savings yesterday.  The quickest, most cost effective way to get there is to start with the conventional corridors already designated because they can be deployed very quickly.

  •  Great post, absolutely (none)
    Two things I would like to comment on:

    Nuclear power has to be completely off the table. There is no known or even conceivable way of disposing of the waste, short of loading into the space shuttle and shipping it to the sun. Maybe not a viable plan. Are you aware of current storage problems.  This is one reason no commercial insurance company will write a policy for a new plant. This is one of the reasons nuclear power is not viable as this contributes to it's prohibitively expensive cost for electricity. Don't believe that is so?  Check out this site

    Be advised that one of the reasons that California suffered an electricity shortage in 2001 was because the P.G.& E. rammed deregulation through so it could stick the cost of disassembling the Diablo Valley Canyon nuclear power plant to the taxpayers.

    Nuclear power is not the answer it never will be.

    As to your proposal that carbon dioxide releases be regulated well I'm afraid your are behind the curve there also. We must move to zero emissions. The CO2 balance in the air has already reached the tipping point and if reports of the permafrost melting are true the planet's habitability is in question.

    I propose that coal gasification is the way to go here. The NRDC agrees; check it out.

    Great idea for a diary and I hope you find my comments helpful.

    "Such is the irresistible nature of truth that all it asks, and all it wants, is the liberty of appearing."

    by Nestor Makhnow on Sat Nov 26, 2005 at 01:29:39 PM PST

  •  FWIW, a newbie Kossack has an idea (none)
    I'm a proponent of hydrogen power, and am contemplating a series on this topic.  My latest maunderings on this topic.

    Think Ansari X Prize. The goal: a 500 horsepower hydrogen powered motor pulling an 18,000 pound semi trailer from coast to coast. The main obstacle: making it over the Rockies. Until carbon nanotubes are manufactured on a large scale, the most likely candidate is a lithium slurry, but it does have downsides: no free lunch, alas.

    People are usually more convinced by reasons they discovered themselves than by those found by others.

    by BlaiseP on Tue Dec 06, 2005 at 03:21:58 PM PST

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