One of the most glaring failures of Congress and the Bush administration is in the lack of a coherent, forward looking energy policy. Instead of developing alternatives that put the United Stated in the position of marketing new technologies to the rest of the world, this oil-based cadre of government officials has given tax breaks and incentives to oil, coal and nuclear companies at a time when they are already making record profits.
I propose the following:
- An Apollo-program or Marshall Plan equivalent commitment to conservation and alternative energy: solar, wind, hydroelectric, bio-diesel, geothermal, and old-fashioned efficiency.
- Raise CAFE standards. If Toyota and Honda can produce a car that gets 60 miles to the gallon, don't tell me Detroit can't. Government must mandate what CEO's refuse to do in the public interest; high standards and incentives will move consumers and companies, especially if government at all levels favors efficiency in their fleet vehicle purchases.
- Low-head hydroelectric sites, which number in the thousands in the Northeast alone, should be immediately utilized by installing turbines and indemnifying localities or private owners. Studies ranging from NSERDA in the 70's to the Idaho National Laboratory in 1998 show that untapped hydro sites in New York could make a significant dent in New York City's power demand. (>1200 megawatts - INL 1998) Massachusetts, according to a recent report, has more than four thousand low-head sites.
- Bio-diesel runs Willie Nelson's bus and the Clearwater Festival's generators, yet it doesn't have the support from our tax dollars that fossil fuels have. Why? Let's pay American farmers to grow our fuel rather than funneling that money to Middle East oil potentates who fund terrorist organizations.
- Ask everybody to be part of the effort. In order to maintain our independence from foreign suppliers and creditors, we should all be willing to conserve as much as possible. Grocery stores and convenience stores should put doors or at least plastic sheeting on cold food cases; subdivision rules banning clotheslines should be lifted; weather-stripping, insulation and storm windows should be provided by government for all older houses and apartment buildings where the owner can't afford them. Unnecessary lighting should be turned off, and the president and Congress should set an example for the rest of us. A kilowatt or barrel saved is the same as one earned.
- A crash program to develop solar, and related technologies including hydrogen, should be our new national priority. As kilowatts are replaced by these new systems, our most polluting plants should be taken off line. We should also shut down and decommission our nuclear plants, starting with Indian Point and others that are sited in heavily populated areas where evacuation would be impossible.
- The insurance underwriting and subsidies that have been granted for half a century to the nuclear industry should be canceled, and instead be extended to safe, sustainable, alternative energy projects. If we can put a man on the moon, if we can connect the whole planet via the Internet, surely we can kick our addiction to oil, coal and nuclear, energy sources that threaten our health and security.
Formated for CROWN by Nenad Bach
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