Energy is a national security issue. Development of locally-generated, clean, renewable energy is the key to safeguarding our nation against resource depletion and the geopolitical tensions and wars that emerge as countries compete for finite resources. Locally generated power, known as distributed generation, is much more secure than current monolithic, centralized systems which expose the electrical grid to targeted terrorist attacks. Developing distributed generation addresses this problem while at the same time increasing grid stability, providing a system that is inherently more reliable on a day to day basis, safer during emergencies, and resists brown-outs and system failures.
The Cobb/LaMarche campaign embraces and strongly advocates the U.S. Green Party National Platform's priorities for energy including the two key pillars of sound energy policy, Energy Efficiency and Clean, Renewable, Locally Generated Energy.
Energy efficiency is the most immediate way that the U.S. can address energy management. Energy efficiency simply means maximizing the productivity out of a given unit of energy and minimizing waste. Citizen Power, a non-profit energy research organization, estimates that if the 109 million households in the U.S. replaced four 100 watt bulbs with compact fluorescent bulbs, the energy output of thirty 300-megawatt power plants would be saved. Thatís enough energy to power another 9 million energy efficient homes. Combined with simple conservation, like turning off power when you're not using it, energy efficiency will greatly reduce the waste of limited resources in the near future and help in the transition to renewables. We can make major gains by retrofitting existing systems and integrating new efficient improvements into building design and transportation systems.
Clean Renewable Local Energy
Clean, renewable, locally generated energy is the key to long term energy sustainability. Energy generation systems which simply borrow molecules from the water cycle to store energy (like hydrogen) or make use of energetic photons streaming from the sun (like solar), and which do so without adding contamination to the environment or subtracting from natural cycles, are superior prospects for energy use. Because they are inexhaustible in human timeframes, these sources provide a long term energy solution. When power is produced locally, it is more secure since it is not at the mercy of either huge grid systems, which can and do fail, or long, vulnerable transmission lines.
One of the primary attractions of a hydrogen-based future is that hydrogen, uniquely among clean alternatives, can exceed the performance of gasoline internal combustion engines and can ultimately replace petroleum for the long term due to its inexhaustibility. But another advantage of hydrogen is the environmental benefit; it promises to get us out of the polluting petroleum tar pit if we opt for clean production methods. In the end use, whether in internal combustion engines, fuel cells, or any other application, the exhaust is virtually pure water vapor.
Transition from Coal
Cobb/LaMarche recognizes that over 50% of our energy still comes from coal and that local economies have historically depended on its extraction, but it is time to get people out of the dangerous and unhealthy working conditions of this polluting industry, and design programs which assist them in transitioning to employment in safer, cleaner energy industries which are truly sustainable for the long term. Bush advocates for an expansion of coal power as an essential part of his energy policy, and Kerry says that "coal should be part of the solution to our energy and environmental challenges and that we need to forge a new way to harness technology to develop and deploy clean electric power from coal." However, proposed "clean coal" plants will still expose workers to hazardous conditions and emit substantial levels of carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxide, particulate matter, and cause mercury contamination in water and land. Coal, like oil, is a dirty dead-end.
Energy and Clean Jobs
We need to develop a comprehensive transition program for all workers in globe-threatening obsolete technologies like coal, oil, and uranium, which create a trail of danger and contamination, from extraction to transportation to storage to refinement to end use. The Cobb/LaMarche campaign pledges to work in coalition with labor and environmental organizations to advance safer and cleaner renewable energy technologies. One example is the new Apollo Alliance, an alliance of dozens of labor and environmental organizations which has the strategic goal of a 10-year, $300 billion program to achieve energy independence for the U.S. through a transition to clean, renewable energy production. The development of renewable energy has the potential for creating millions of new, well-paying jobs in a sustainable industry.
Energy use in Transportation
For Cobb/LaMarche, it's not enough to just switch all cars to clean fuels. We must work to reduce the overwhelming numbers of vehicles that cause congestion and destroy the environment and livability of our urban centers. Energy use in transportation is most wisely utilized in clean, efficient, public mass transit. We also strongly advocate the development of a national high speed inter-city rail system to reduce airport congestion and pollution from air traffic and highway travel, in addition to getting you where you want to go quickly and safely.
Cobb/LaMarche would divert monies currently subsidizing oil and auto industries, and redirect them to public transit programs. Incentives should support clean renewable energy, not the exploitation of dirty finite resources like coal and oil, and the inherently dangerous nuclear power. We support federal, state, and local policies which help fund clean energy research and deployment; we support tax credits for solar, wind, clean hydrogen, biomass and other clean renewable energy systems; we support taxes and fines for energy waste; we support efforts to develop inexpensive solar cells and hydrogen fuel cells. We also propose that federal and state governments help fund the development of school curricula on energy efficiency and clean renewable energy for all levels of public schools.
We oppose oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Preserve, the outer continental shelf, and other ecologically sensitive areas. The US Government's own studies of oil and gas on federal lands (DoI-EPCA 1/2003) show that most of it is already open to drilling and that opening more land to drilling will have a negligible impact on oil supply and prices (DoE-EIA 2001, 2004). We also strongly oppose renewed efforts to build new nuclear fission power plants. After 60 years of unfulfilled promises from the nuclear industry, the extremely dangerous problems associated with radioactive materials and waste created by nuclear power production have not been solved.
Democracy in Energy
We support public ownership of utilities. Pubic ownership of utilities increases local control and democratic community-based decision-making where a utility is run by a locally elected board. No overpaid executives or stockholders drain money from workers and ratepayers. Where private utility ownership remains, it must be strongly and fairly regulated under public oversight.
The Cobb/LaMarche campaign believes the U.S. should commit itself to the goal of achieving 30% clean, renewable energy production in the U.S. by the year 2020 and 50% by 2030. The ultimate goal is for 100% renewable energy, generated locally in the communities served, well before the end of this century. We believe that technology is not the primary barrier to achieving this goal; it is a matter of political will. And we have that will.