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Archive for the ‘Policy Matters’ Category

“Why are you placing so much hope on Barack Obama becoming President? It is up to you, and all the other citizens to make changes.”

This is a refrain that comes up a lot, including from some La Marguerite readers.

I say, this is a false debate. The answer is, we need both a competent leader, and responsible citizens. A new President who understands and places sustainability, climate change solutions, and energy independence on top of the national agenda. Citizens who believe in their power to make a difference, in their support of new environmental policies, and in their daily lives. One without the others won’t work, and vice versa. The last few years should be proof enough.

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I just got a peak at William Becker‘s new book, ‘The 100 Day Action Plan to Save the Planet -  A Climate Crisis Solution for the 44th President‘.

William Becker is the Executive Director of the Presidential Climate Action Project, a non-partisan initiative, based out of the University of Colorado School of Public Affairs. The Climate Action Project plans to deliver the plan to the next President right after the election. Here are the key parts of the plan:

  • Take early action by using the powers Congress already has delegated to the executive branch
  • Move rapidly away from investments that lock the nation into more long-term carbon emissions
  • Rebuild the federal government’s leadership capacity by restoring respect for science and bringing America’s best experts on energy and climate security into public service
  • Mobilize the marketplace to build a new twenty-first century economy
  • Launch and economy wide “clean energy surge”
  • Ensure that climate action is equitable and fair
  • Create an agenda for natural resource stewardship that responds to climate change
  • Help the nation adapt to the climate changes already underway
  • Redefine national security to include climate and energy security
  • Work with leading governors and mayors to create an intergovernmental action plan
  • Reengage the community of nations to find solutions to the climate and energy crises
  • Work closely with Congress to create additional laws and to fund the programs we need to effectively address energy and climate security

Broad strokes, that get broken down into hundreds of specific steps, in the book. This is serious stuff, and exactly the kind of thinking we need for the next four years. As pointed by William Becker in his introduction, we are running out of time, and action at all levels, starting at the top, is needed now.  In that respect, I find Barack Obama‘s recent answer to Time reporter Joe Klein, quite encouraging:

Finding the new driver of our economy is going to be critical. There is no better potential driver that pervades all aspects of our economy than a new energy economy … That’s going to be my No. 1 priority when I get into office, assuming obviously that we have done enough to just stabilize the immediate economic situation. We’ve got a boat with a lot of leaks, and we need to get it into port. That’s what the financial rescue package is about. But once we get it into port, once the credit markets are functioning effectively, then it’s time for us to go back to the fundamentals of this economy.

The big question of course is, how long before we get ‘it’ into port? Nature has been patient enough, and it cannot wait much longer, for us to take remedial actions.

Last, kudos to Martin’s Press for deciding to publish William Becker‘s book, electronically. That’s what I call walking the writing! You can order the book here.

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Sarah Palin on Energy:

You’ve got to admit! Sarah Palin is good. The woman can sell anything, even the devil. This is what makes her so dangerous

See Grist’s rebuttal, including roundup of Palin’s environmental record below:

  • Opposed a statewide ballot initiative to prohibit or restrict new mining operations that could affect salmon in the state’s streams and rivers
  • Has pushed to build a natural-gas pipeline from Alaska’s North Slope
  • Got the state legislature to pass a bill to provide each Alaskan $1,200 to help with energy costs
  • Sued the Interior Department over its decision to list the polar bear as a threatened species
  • Has proposed eliminating Alaska’s gas tax
  • Has pushed to open Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to drilling
  • Has created a committee to forge Alaska’s climate-change strategy, and has made Alaska an observer (but not a member) of the Western Climate Initiative
  • Opposes a windfall profits tax on oil companies
  • Was the ethics commissioner of the Alaska Gas and Oil Conservation Commission from 2003 to 2004
  • Lifelong angler and hunter
  • Husband is an oil production operator for BP on Alaska’s North Slope
  • Started Alaska’s Petroleum Systems Integrity Office, an oversight and maintenance agency for the state’s oil and gas equipment, facilities, and infrastructure
  • Chairs the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission, a multistate panel “that promotes the conservation and efficient recovery of domestic oil and natural gas resources while protecting health, safety and the environment”
  • Believes intelligent design should be taught along with evolution in science classes

Last, but not least, Sarah Palin‘s quote on global warming:

“I’m not one though who would attribute [global warming] to being man-made.”

SCARY!!!!!

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Al Gore did a fabulous job yesterday, of nailing down the three key environmental challenges facing our country.

First, is the interdependence between climate crisis, economy, and national security.

And it just so happens that the climate crisis is intertwined with the other two great challenges facing our nation: reviving our economy and strengthening our national security. The solutions to all three require us to end our dependence on carbon-based fuels.

Second, is the need to use a multi solutions approach, not forgetting to include conservation in the mix -I would love to think that Al read my earlier criticism . . . :)

Instead of letting lobbyists and polluters control our destiny, we need to invest in American innovation. Almost a hundred years ago, Thomas Edison said, “I’d put my money on the sun and solar energy. What a source of power! I hope we don’t have to wait until oil and coal run out before we tackle that.” We already have everything we need to use the sun, the wind, geothermal power, conservation and efficiency to solve the climate crisis—everything, that is, except a president who inspires us to believe, “Yes we can.”

Third, is exposing the hold of the big oil and coal interests on the Republican party, and on the media, and the risk we run if we elect another Republican president.

So how did this no-brainer become a brain-twister? Because the carbon fuels industry—big oil and coal—have a 50-year lease on the Republican Party and they are drilling it for everything it’s worth. And this same industry has spent a half a billion dollars this year alone trying to convince the public they are actually solving the problem, when they are in fact making it worse every single day.

Well said, Al!

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No time to blog. I have been taken by the energy of the Democratic Convention, and spent all my evenings glued to the TV. Nervously praying for no missteps. La Marguerite is an environment blog, not a place to share my political views. This time is different, however. I feel the big environmental challenges facing us are political issues. One only need to take a look at the past eight years, to be convinced. Eight years, during which we, the citizens of this great country, have been consistently ‘dis-inspired’, demoralized, and demobilized on so many fronts. Eight years, during which other countries looked up to us for leadership on climate change, and found nothing instead. Eight years of systematic obstruction to hundreds of good environmental proposals. Eight years of special fuel interests pulling the strings behind the scenes and imposing their wishes. Eight years, during which CO2 levels have risen steadily, past the 350 danger zone. Eight years of muffling the voices of climate scientists. Eight long years, that have dwarfed my efforts, and others’ efforts to try to heal nature.

I am ready for a change. Are you?

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As inspiring as Michelle, and Ted, and Hillary were, what thrilled me even more, were the governors’ speeches yesterday. Governors like Mark Warner, Ted Strickland, Ed Rendell, Tom Vilsack, and Brian Schweitzer, who emphatically described their vision of a new American dream, largely fueled by bold energy and climate policies:

Here are some excerpts from Governor Schweitzer‘s speech:

A generation later, we face a great new challenge, a world energy crisis that threatens our economy, our security, our climate and our way of life. And until we address that energy crisis, our problems will only get worse. For eight long years, the White House has led us in the wrong direction. And now Senator McCain wants four more years of the same.

Can we afford four more years? Is it time for a change? When do we need it? And who do we need as the next President of the United States of America? That’s right. Barack Obama is the change we need!

Right now, the United States imports about 70 percent of its oil from overseas. At the same time, billions of dollars that we spend on all that foreign oil seems to end up in the bank accounts of those around the world who are openly hostile to American values and our way of life. This costly reliance on fossil fuels threatens America and the world in other ways, too. CO2 emissions are increasing global temperatures, sea levels are rising and storms are getting worse.

We need to break America’s addiction to foreign oil. We need a new energy system that is clean, green and American-made. And we need a president who can marshal our nation’s resources, get the job done and deliver the change we need.

That leader is Barack Obama. Barack Obama knows there’s no single platform for energy independence. It’s not a question of either wind or clean coal, solar or hydrogen, oil or geothermal. We need them all to create a strong American energy system, a system built on American innovation.

After eight years of a White House waiting hand and foot on big oil, John McCain offers more of the same. At a time of skyrocketing fuel prices, when American families are struggling to keep their gas tanks full, John McCain voted 25 times against renewable and alternative energy. Against clean biofuels. Against solar power. Against wind energy.

This not only hurts America’s energy independence, it could cost American families more than a hundred thousand jobs. At a time when America should be working harder than ever to develop new, clean sources, John McCain wants more of the same and has taken more than a million dollars in campaign donations from the oil and gas industry. Now he wants to give the oil companies another 4 billion dollars in tax breaks. Four billion in tax breaks for big oil?

That’s a lot of change, but it’s not the change we need.

In Montana, we’re investing in wind farms and we’re drilling in the Bakken formation, one of the most promising oil fields in America. We’re pursuing coal gasification with carbon sequestration and we’re promoting greater energy efficiency in homes and offices.

Even leaders in the oil industry know that Senator McCain has it wrong. We simply can’t drill our way to energy independence, even if you drilled in all of John McCain’s backyards, including the ones he can’t even remember.

That single-answer proposition is a dry well, and here’s why. America consumes 25 percent of the world’s oil, but has less than 3 percent of the reserves. You don’t need a $2 calculator to figure that one out. There just isn’t enough oil in America, on land or offshore, to meet America’s full energy needs.

Barack Obama understands the most important barrel of oil is the one you don’t use. Barack Obama’s energy strategy taps all sources and all possibilities. It will give you a tax credit if you buy a fuel-efficient car or truck, increase fuel-efficiency standards and put a million plug-in hybrids on the road.

Invest $150 billion over the next 10 years in clean, renewable energy technology. This will create up to 5 million new, green jobs and fuel long-term growth and prosperity. Senator Obama’s plan will also invest in a modern transmission grid to deliver this new, clean electricity from wind turbines and solar panels to homes, offices and the batteries in America’s new plug-in hybrid cars.

I am regaining faith in our political leadership. No matter what happens in the elections, the governors, and the mayors, and the senators, and the congress men and women, will take over. They understand what is at stake. They know that climate change and energy needs are not to be viewed as just bothers, but huge economic opportunities instead.

Do you share my excitement?

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Today, Barack Obama, delivered his most comprehensive Energy Policy Speech to date.

I am pleased, and here’s why. For a change, here is a candidate who proposes a realistic plan to address the complex challenges of energy dependence and climate change. A candidate who is taking into account political realities and the need to compromise sometimes. A candidate who is incorporating all the good solutions that are available so far. A candidate who embraces Tom Friedman‘s view of a Green Revolution. A candidate who knows Americans have it in them to weather the storm. A candidate who is not afraid to confront our addiction to oil

Yes, he did change his mind on offshore drilling and tapping into oil reserves. Some say, Obama does not know what he wants. To which I respond, great policy is an organic process that requires constant adjustment to circumstances and people. What matters is that the vision, and the leadership remain constant. 

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