Letter from the Executive Director
Leaving Energy Policy to those who think on a quarterly basis is threatening the economy and driving global warming to the point of no return.
We have sacrificed jobs, public health and household budgets on behalf of the fossil fuel and nuclear industries. The US was at the pinnacle of wind turbine technology. Now Denmark, Germany and Spain are dominating the market. The US was the top solar panel producer in the work. Now the Japan and Germany have thriving solar industries. Much of the US capacity is exported. Why is this? These countries seized on the economic and environmental opportunities inherent in these technologies by adopting public policies to drive renewable markets in their respective countries. The US? The US gravitated to business as usual, driven by the political and economic influence of the fossil fuel and nuclear industries.
Once considered the engine of our economic prosperity, fossil fuels have become the ball and chain dragging the economy into the doldrums and the bane of the planet. Nuclear and coal-fired power plants have become excessively expensive subprime, toxic assets, with the legacy cost of the former being high level nuclear waste and the legacy cost of the latter being global warming. Taken together, nuclear and coal-fired power represents an extremely ominous duo of doom. Unfortunately, they compromise roughly 70% of our electric generating capacity, while renewable energy and energy efficiency are relegated to the position of window dressing.
Fortunately, there is a way out of this mess. Another reason for optimism is that the public (in Indiana and nationally) support the alternative, the alternative being the systematic phase out of nuclear and fossil fuels and the phase in of efficiency and renewables, advanced storage technologies, distributed generation technologies and electric vehicles.
CAC began to explore this enormously beneficial approach to economic development and vastly improved environmental quality as part of The CLEAN.org (Citizens Lead for Energy Action Now) coalition. The hub of the effort is the Civil Society Institute based in the Boston area. Civil Society Institute convened a series of meetings with state and local groups fighting power plants and unimaginable mining methods (mountaintop removal for instance) to map out a platform for the phasing out of coal and nuclear plants and the phase in of clean energy and energy efficiency on a large scale.
CAC sought to add meat to the CSI platform by suggesting to the group to embrace the Institute of Energy and Environmental Research’s report called “Carbon Free Nuclear Free: A Roadmap for US Energy Policy.” In it, Arjun Makhijani, director of IEER, describes a systematic approach to a brighter energy future.
The Civil Society Institute has provided excellent leadership and generous resources to the effort in the form of support for organizers, media hits and policy development.
The next stage is developing a presentation that the regional organizers can give and train others to present. In essence, we would be picking up where Al Gore left off. That is, he educated the public as to the problem of global warming and its implications while CLEAN will educate the public as to the solution and its implications.
The biggest barriers will be the usual suspects and the mentality that the construction of new coal-fired power and nuclear power plants are absolutely necessary, which is, in large part, due to industry spin.
If we are to make utility bills affordable, economically and effectively address global warming and create the green jobs we need to, the electric grid of the future will have to consist of renewables and advanced storage technology coupled with extensive and comprehensive deployment of energy efficiency technologies.
This year the annual meeting will explore this option and jumpstart the discussion of moving US and Indiana energy policy in a direction we can all embrace and be proud of.
CAC Executive Director
These are the issues of immediate importance we are working on right now.