Offering frequent news and analysis from the majestic Evergreen State and beyond, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Pursuing an energy policy for the 21st century

Kudos to the editorial board of the Seattle Post Intelligencer for beginning a series of editorials this week about reducing our energy consumption and transitioning away from fossil fuels:
What we need from government is energy independence, generated by a science-based, long-term strategy founded on conservation and alternative energy sources.

What we've gotten is pandering.

$100 rebate checks? Roll back the federal gas tax?

Tax breaks on hybrid vehicles people are already lining up to buy?

Drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and off the West Coast?

Nukes? Price-gouging claims and remedies?

Does no one understand that providing cheap gasoline may not be the best thing our government can do for us?

Television news harps on "pain at the pump." What are the risks that without substantive changes in energy production and consumption in this country the pain will be far more severe and persistent?

Would it be better to raise the federal gas tax to create a fund for alternative energy research and development? (Especially in incremental steps.)

Should there be a tariff on imported petroleum rather than on imported alternative fuels?

Is it unwise, even reckless, to continue America's upward curve of fossil fuels consumption if the world's oil supply is nearing its peak, just as developing nations such as China and India dramatically increase their energy consumption?
Unfortunately, too many Democrats in Congress seem to have forgotten about the future and are engaging in the same pandering as Republicans.

We need to elect Democrats to Congress who will pursue a smart, sensible, long term energy policy - not foolishly attempt to lower the price of gasoline. That's why we need to elect Darcy Burner to represent the 8th Congressional District. She understands how important a long term energy policy is for America.

"The Bush Republicans have failed to implement comprehensive energy policies that address our demand for oil. The right way to solve this problem is to immediately pursue policies that reduce our addiction to oil and hold irresponsible oil companies accountable," Burner said last week.

Here's her proposed series of investments and policy changes that would reduce the country’s demand for oil and punish irresponsible oil companies:
Meaningful price-gouging legislation. We must establish a federal ban on price gouging for oil, gasoline, and other petroleum products during national emergencies, provide civil and criminal penalties for price gouging, ban market manipulation, and require greater transparency in oil and gasoline markets.

Establishing Incentives for Alternative Vehicles and Increasing Vehicle Fuel Efficiency. We must dramatically increase incentives that encourage the production and sale of clean and efficient hybrid and fuel cell vehicles. At the same time, we must increase the fuel economy standards of cars and light duty trucks.

Creating the Next Generation of Revolutionary Energy Technologies. We must provide seed money for fundamental research needed to develop high-risk, high-reward technologies and build markets for the next generation of revolutionary energy technologies, such as those emerging from smart grid, solar, and fuel-cell research.

Commitment to a New Energy Policy. We must immediately increase energy research and development funding and extend the renewable energy production tax credit.

Deploying New Engine Technologies and Expanding Clean Energy Alternatives. We must increase research and development funding for new vehicle technologies and new fuels so that these emerging technologies can be deployed in the next three to five years.
We're tired of Republicans in D.C. pretending to care about this issue but offering only lip service, not real solutions. We need leaders at all levels of government who will put together and implement a solid energy policy that is appropriate for the 21st century. And we know that Darcy Burner will be such a leader. That's why we need her in Congress.

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