A friend of mine who had made some energy-related suggestions to President Obama just received a very thoughtful and well-written note in response, talking up the “all-of-the-above” strategy. I respond:
That’s great. From here, I’d like to see some real numbers and commitments to bringing them about. In particular, I want to see us:
• Immediately remove the subsidies to the oil and coal companies.
• Get entirely out of the coal business over the next 35 – 40 years, with legislation that would force the generators and consumers of energy to pay for its comprehensive costs, including remediating damage to our lungs and ecosystems; encourage the rest of the world to do the same.
• Put people back to work in energy efficiency (insulation, smart-grid, LED lighting, higher efficiency HVAC, etc.) and in rebuilding our ancient grid.
• Invest in R&D in advanced forms of clean energy (PV, CSP, wind, biomass, biofuels, ocean current, tidal, run-of-river hydro, and geothermal), while doing the same with energy storage at a utility-scale level.
• Encourage our cities to redesign themselves in favor of car-sharing, ride sharing, walking, bicycling, mass transit, and small vehicles for commuting and urban package delivery.
• Promote locally-grown food, perhaps by placing a tax on food that travels long distances, and using those revenues to provide incentives for organic food grown via aeroponics, aquaponics, etc.
• Encourage legislation that would force home-sellers to provide energy audits (just like they currently must provide smoke alarms).
• Rethink the way we regulate utilities, so that they have full incentive to integrate renewables and to encourage their customers to consume less power.
• Advance a new ethos of energy conservation, e.g., the Carter White House.
I’d happily give the president a solid “A” if he does a good job here. To make it an “A+” he needs to:
• Make the U.S. a constructive force (rather than an obstruction) in the Conference of Parties meetings on climate change mitigation.
• Encourage Bernie Sanders’ “Saving American Democracy” legislation that will establish a constitutional amendment overturning the U.S. Supreme Court Decision “Citizens United.” Currently, Big Energy, especially the oil companies, essentially own our government, and, as long as that’s the case, real change in energy policy will never happen.
Go for it, Mr.President!