This was originally Norm’s idea, although I added the Drill Baby angle to make it more topical. While Drill Baby has faded due to the totally inconvenient massive BP spill, it’s still a timely topic. Yeah, the November election is sure to kill any further federal action on energy policy and climate change. But, our energy problems will still be there (just worse) when we return to addressing them sometime in the future.
This issue also is very important for California voters in November, because of Proposition 23. Prop. 23 would reverse CA’s commitment to install a carbon cap and trade program and support green energy alternatives. State action is how policy evolves in the U.S when the feds are paralyzed.
For Thursday, maybe I should open with a short review of what our energy problems actually are. It’s not just global warming. If I outline the big problems we need to do something about, then the relative roles for efficiency/conservation vs. finding new fossil fuel supplies may be easier for us to discuss.
I’m no expert, but it appears to me that we have three basic energy needs, all of which will be harder to solve the longer we wait. We need to:
- Begin a multi-decade switch from fossil fuels to cleaner energy sources to avoid climate catastrophe and because we’re going to run out of them anyway;
- Keep energy prices and supplies as stable as possible during the multi-decade conversion, so as to minimize economic disruption;
- Make America a leader in the new green technologies so we can capture the jobs and wealth of this transition for ourselves, not other countries.
Easy, huh? Here are a few links for background on each topics (Red ones probably most useful):
Climate Change and Coming Fossil Fuel Energy Shortages
- Climate Change: 1. ABCs of the science (charts). 2. Expected Impacts. 3. Solutions, 4. Efficiency is the least-cost and fastest part of the solution.
- Depleting supplies: Read this on peak energy and the lack of alternatives!
Green Jobs and Technology
- US must be a leader in green transition to keep our edge.
- CA’s Proposition 23: what is it, what would it do.
Our environmentalist, Anne Tolch, won’t be able to attend.
UPDATE: In case anyone cares to know the details, Obama has done a lot to kick sdtart this stuff, most of it in the stimulus. Details (all stimulus spending, in bullet points, is here):
- ENERGY: About $50 billion for energy programs, focused chiefly on efficiency and renewable energy, including $5 billion to weatherize modest-income homes; $6.4 billion to clean up nuclear weapons production sites; $11 billion toward a so-called “smart electricity grid” to reduce waste; $6 billion to subsidize loans for renewable energy projects; $6.3 billion in state energy efficiency and clean energy grants; and $4.5 billion make federal buildings more energy efficient; $2 billion in grants for advanced batteries for electric vehicles.
- RENEWABLE ENERGY INCENTIVES: About 20 billion in tax incentives for renewable energy and energy efficiency over 10 years, including extending tax credits for energy produced from wind, geothermal, hydropower and landfill gas; grants to build renewable energy facilities; tax credits for purchases of energy-efficient furnaces, windows and doors, or insulation; tax credit for families that purchase plug-in hybrid vehicles.