Energy is an essential component of our economy. We need energy for lighting, heating, cooling and ventilation, transportation, and to power our increasingly electronic dependent household and industrial appliances. Over the past century we have enjoyed the benefits of abundant fossil fuels and a happy oblivion of the potential damage of using such fossil fuels.

Nuclear power seemed like a clean solution, but the dangers of handling nuclear material is quite high and we still have found no permanent solutions to dealing with nuclear waste products. The Chernobyl and Three Mile Island disasters also demonstrated the very real uncertain dangers of current nuclear technology. Today industry insists on government granted immunities from any nuclear catastrophe liabilities or they will not invest in nuclear power. If those who only think of money worry about the monetary risks of nuclear catastrophe’s the rest of us need to be very concerned about the human risks of such a disaster. The impetus for nuclear investors to insist on government granted limits on liability arise from attaching a probable dollar figure to each injury or fatality from a nuclear catastrophe. However, there is no dollar figure that can actually be assigned to those lost lives. If industry is unwilling to shoulder the monetary costs, we should not absolve them and willingly take on the human costs of a nuclear catastrophe.

Fossil fuels raise all sorts of concerns too. The fuels themselves are becoming more and more difficult to reach which is a strong indication that we are moving past our peak extraction capabilities. The 2010 BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill provides an indication of the difficulty of reaching available oil reserves. In the not too distant past, oil was readily available near the surface in much of the Southern United States. Today we must drill for oil under miles of ocean water and drilling through miles of the Earth’s crust simply to reach an oil reserve. Just before the BP oil disaster which killed 11 oil workers, Massey Energy experienced a disaster which killed 38 miners in West Virginia with the Upper Big Branch Mine disaster. Such catastrophe’s along with mountain top removal demonstrate just how difficult it is to get to the remaining coal reserves and the human toll we risk in doing so. To get to natural gas reserves  the industry is resorting more and more to hydraulic fracturing or fracing which uses large mounts of petroleum and freshwater to force natural gas from deep underground. It too is potentially damaging aquifers and underscores the problems in getting at this fossil fuel.

Aside from the increasingly severe problems of getting to fossil fuels, the lives lost in these extractive industries and the increasing cost in terms of energy and funds to get to each and every unit of fuel, all of these fossil fuels contribute to greenhouse gases as carbon long ago trapped underground is removed from these ancient deposits and returned to the carbon cycle after millions of years sequestered underground. By adding carbon back into the carbon cycle we risk fundamental changes to the Earth’s climate and a warming of several degrees which could ultimately eliminate the polar icecap and ancient glaciers and thus raise ocean levels back to their historically higher levels: wiping out coastal cities around the World.

In trying to secure fossil fuels, the oil industry has increasingly demanded the US and its allied militaries pursue imperialist strategies in the mideast and wherever fossil fuels are found to make sure those ignoble corporations control those resources as they become more and more scarce.

While the corporate interests in fossil fuel and nuclear energy are strong, we have enormous untapped renewable energy sources which could likely replace most of our need for nuclear and fossil fuel based energy. Each day we receive energy from the Sun over 20,000 times the energy consumed in every form. This energy from the Sun, causes evaporation and rain which can be captured through hydroelectric run-of-the-river power plants. The energy from the Sun causes winds to blow which can be captured through wind farms. Best of all we can capture the light and heat energy from the Sun directly through passive solar and photovoltaic rooftop panels and through large-scale desert solar power plants. This energy is abundant, the technology is already available and proven, we merely need government to step up and fulfill its role as the democratic proprietor of our public commons to develop, maintain, and operate the infrastructure necessary to make use of this green and renewable energy.

Compared to renewable energy sources, fossil fuels and nuclear also provide less than ideal energy for civil defense strategies since the strategic fuel reserves are measured in terms of months whereas renewable energy sources could provide energy for years or decades even when foreign supply channels are completely closed down.

I support:

  1. A major focus on conservation programs including:
    1. passive heating systems in new construction and existing building retrofits with insulation, insulated windows and doors, insulated hot water systems, window treatments, and so forth
    2. passive cooling systems with ceiling fans, transoms, operable windows, and improved airflow
    3. high-efficiency lighting systems through compact fluorescent and LED lights
    4. high-efficicny household and industrial appliances
    5. transportation efficiency by promoting abundant mass transportation, compact walkable and bike-able cities and towns, commercial delivery systems, telecommuting, etc.
  2. guaranteed loans for rooftop solar through passive solar heating panels, photovoltaic panels, sterling engines, and the like
  3. public acquisition of all electrical transmission systems and fossil fuel distribution pipelines at the appropriate level of government: federal for interstate systems, state and local for local energy distribution systems and the operation of these systems as transparent government agencies with tight democratic oversight and equitable pricing and access for all energy producers and consumers
  4. federal direct investment in an interstate and international electrical transmission system to transport electrical energy from where it can be abundantly produced to where it is needed
  5. federal direct investment desert solar power plants, and pumped storage hydroelectric facilities, run-of-the-river hydroelectric plants, and an expansion of the Tennessee Valley Authority into a continental operator of renewable energy plants and power transmission systems
  6. a continued or re-established moratorium on new nuclear power plants
  7. gradual phase out of first coal and then nuclear power
  8. gradual phase out of natural gas in favor of pumped storage hydroelectric facilities to manage intraday peak load changes
  9. ending subsidies, wavier of liability and loan guarantees for oil, natural gas coal, and nuclear
  10. a permit fee on carbon emissions to fund loan guarantees, direct federal investment and direct state and local investment grants in conservation and renewable energy projects
  11. complete electrification of all interstate and international freight and high-speed railways
  12. electrification of local mass transit through new light-rail, heavy-rail, and commuter rail projects and retrofit of existing commuter rail as well as the deployment of hybrid buses capable of seamlessly transitioning from onboard hybrid power plant to operating through an overhead catenary or other external electrical power source
  13. encourage private passenger vehicle electrification through a federal loan program  that finances electric vehicle purchases through a surcharge on electrical vehicle recharge electricity (thought still much lower than comparable petroleum fuel costs)
  14. public ownership, stewardship, and proprietorship of the common energy infrastructure including our distribution systems, desert solar plants, pumped storage hydroelectric plants, and private contractors providing the materials and equipment for these public commons and private participation as both energy producers and energy consumers with equitable consumer and producer pricing and access for all