Energy and the Environment

Global and National Overview
Specific Ideas and Policies

Global and National Overview

Humans burn far too much fossil fuel, unsustainable and dirty energy which releases Green House Gas (GHG) emissions that cause global warming. We are in nothing short of a climate crisis, and we as a nation, and a planet, are far behind in confronting it.  Adaptive techniques and climate change solutions we already know can work are readily available to us and growing in use.  We must accelerate the infrastructure of wind and solar energy solutions, geothermal energy, “cool roofs” and “cool streets,” and of course our own conservation of energy uses as consumers. We also need to remember that “cleaner” natural gas is also a fossil fuel, and that fracking practices used to extract natural gas are water wasting, chemical dumping measures that are destroying farms, communities, and groundwater tables. The cost is too high to “frack” our way forward and to see natural gas as a miracle “transition fuel” to solar and wind.  The solar and wind is here!  Let’s invest far more in it.  Just because we have it, doesn’t mean we need to or should use it… and yes, I’m looking at you, too, coal.

We are poisoning our oceans and waterways with chemicals, plastics, cruise ship sewage and Naval trash, and tomorrow’s oil spills. With our oceans already growing more acidic due to global warming/the GHG’s we pump into our atmosphere, we are putting our sea life at risk as well.  We must demand that our policy leaders take strong positions against cruise lines dumping into oceans and waterways, single-use plastic bags and unnecessary plastic beads used in packaging, and dangerous oil drilling practices like horizontal and sideways drilling that led to the 2010 BP Gulf Oil disaster.

Specific Ideas and Policies

I personally support the following to assist in our adaptation to a changing climate and to grow the use of sustainable energy solutions:

  • As quickly as possible, weening Americans from the use of coal, coupled with new job training and transition assistance to coal miners and refiners. They should be our solar and wind energy installers and mechanics of the future. They’ll live longer, and be a part of a positive, clean energy future. No longer can “My family’s dug coal for 5 generations” be a good enough excuse to keep coal mining as a jobs program. It’s a health care nightmare, and is destroying the very mountaintops that should be home to a growing number of windmills.
  • Public policies that continue to incentivize residential solar use. The utilities, which consider clean energy solutions like residential solar to be “disruptive” technologies, are short sighted and greedy.  Residential solar use and other forms of distributed generation may be far more effective than massive “solar heated” turbine projects, though I applaud anything that can power our daily life that isn’t polluting (and nuclear waste is pollution).
  • At the same time solar eases the demands on dirty fuels powering our electric grid, we need a massive national effort to modernize, digitize, and rebuild the hardware elements of our national electric grid and infrastructure to keep up with and allow for the clean energy transition
  • Public policies that continue to incentivize the purchase of clean air vehicles.  Specifically, I would support new “Corporate Avg. Fuel Economy,” or C.A.F.E. standards, that mandate that any regular sized/sedan-sized car with a gas tank must be have a fuel economy of between 65-80 miles per gallon.
    • In my view, this will push auto manufacturers into producing entire fleets of plug-in hybrid/electric cars (that run on a mix of gasoline and electric charge), with an electric charge of at least 20-25 electric travel miles per charge
    • There really shouldn’t even be any “traditional gasoline engines” built at this point — with the caveat that we can only phase into partial or all-electric vehicles if we address the electricity infrastructure I discussed above to meet the demands of millions of new vehicles drawing power to recharge batteries
  • Continued and increased Research & Development tax credits for companies working to expand the life of battery storage for electric vehicles and solar/wind energy storage for peak hours
  • National adoption of Marine Protective Areas and National Marine Sanctuaries that will guard against over-fishing and allow species of fish, sea turtles and other marine life return to the physical size and population numbers they should enjoy
  • Stronger negotiations with nations that register cruise ships that call for laws in those nations banning any ships that fly that nation’s flag from dumping sewage and other waste into international waters.
  • Liberal and frequent use of the Antiquities Act to protect more of America’s Wild Places and natural/national monuments
  • Water storage policies that will lead to more underground water storage and/or will charge aquifers we’ve neglected for far too long
  • Public and private investments in systems that can capture and store rainwater and other water runoff for grey water use or cleaning for public consumption
  • A call for insurance companies to offer homeowner’s insurance discounts for families who install solar, cool roofs and driveways, weatherized windows and doorways, drought tolerant yards and gardens, and other water saving measures
    • It’s puzzling and downright disappointing to me that the Insurance Industry isn’t more out front in the Climate Change battle. As the climate changes, storms grow more violent, ocean levels rise to threaten homes, and extreme heat and extreme freeze damage crops, one would think that the industry paying out for what will be a dramatic increase in claims would see bottom line advantages to joining the fight. What’s it going to take, “Big Insurance?!”