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Energize America - A Blueprint for U.S. Energy Security (Fourth Draft)

by Jerome a Paris Tue Dec 13th, 2005 at 09:12:40 AM EST

This was prepared for DailyKos, but I believe it has enough relevance to be front paged here. Your input welcome

Energize America, Fourth Draft, 13 December 2005

Written by devilstower, Jerome a Paris and Meteor Blades.
Contributing Editors: A Siegel, besieged by bush, btower, chriscol, DoolittleSothere, jkl, mateosf and dozens of other helpful Kossacks.

Following is the fourth version of a Kossack-generated strategic energy plan designed to provide the United States with energy security by 2020. As you may remember, I started this process with Building together an effective Democratic energy policy (I), which came after a number of energy diaries where lots of great ideas and proposals had been brought forward by the Kossack community. The project quickly blossomed into an effort to draft a comprehensive and coherent U.S. energy policy that could be used by Democrats and other energy security advocates. Subsequent versions included diaries by Meteor Blades (Reenergize America - A Democratic Blueprint (Second Draft)) and devilstower (Energize America - A Democratic Blueprint (Third Draft)).


I am grateful that this series of diaries has been so strongly supported by so many of you, and it has been an extremely fulfilling process for all involved.

With this Fourth Draft, we have refined our focus, sharpened our message and begun to build the financial models to support the plan, including both a funding model and target investments for each specific proposal.

To sustain our momentum and keep our work going forward, we now ask you to:

  • help us ensure that the message is clear, the logic sound, the tone appropriate and the depth sufficient. The bumperstickers need to be punchy and explicit; the "elevator pitch" needs to be clear, concise and attractive; and the flyer text needs to be accessible - and convincing - to all Americans.

  • critique the legislative proposals and their associated projected financials: comments on political impact, analysis of assumptions used, costs or benefits we may have overlooked or exaggerated, suggestions to improve the proposed legislative text; input on missing financials would be most useful. That section should be understandable to anyone with an interest in energy policy, but detailed enough to be taken seriously.

  • provide any specific wording, ideas, arguments, et cetera, that you would like included in the plan. (Detailed wording will be much more helpful than general comments at this point.)

We also need your help with the document format. If you have design, graphics, layout or other similar skills, we'd like to hear from you, either in the thread or by e-mail. We expect to finalize Energize America in January or February for consideration as the Democratic Energy Platform, and will be looking to Kossacks to once again build nationwide support for a long-overdue progressive solution to this country's evolving energy crisis.

With all that said, here we go.
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The bumperstickers/sound bites


Energize America


Energize America - A Blueprint for U.S.  energy security


Energize America - A Democratic Blueprint for U.S.  energy security


Energize America - The 20/20/20 plan for Energy, Environmental and Economic Security.


Energize America - A path for a healthier America


Energize America will diversify our energy sources, promote energy efficiency and substantially expand America's renewable energy industrial base.


SMART Goals: By 2020, Energize America will reduce oil and gas imports by 20%, reduce carbon emissions by 20%, and generate 20% of electricity from renewable sources.

Note: I will put each of these in separate comments below so that you can indicate which ones you prefer by rating the corresponding comment
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The business card version


Energize America - A Blueprint for U.S.  Energy Security

Increase energy diversity to strengthen our national security and economic stability
Energize America will provide 20% of electricity from renewable sources.

Replace current energy policies that leave America vulnerable
Energize America will reduce imported oil and gas by 20%.

Promote energy efficiency and conservation to protect Americans and the environment
Energize America will  reduce carbon emissions by 20%.

Invest in renewable energy to create jobs and enhance America's technological leadership
Energize America will make America the global leader in renewable energy technology, equipment and production.


By 2020, Energize America will:
  • make the nation safer from unstable regions of the world - where most of the global oil supply is located;
  • insulate the U.S. economy from energy supply disruptions - both natural and human-made;
  • create several hundred thousand new American jobs in high-value manufacturing and service industries;
  • preserve the environment for future generations by shifting from fossil fuels to clean and safe renewable energies;
  • enhance U.S. political power and expand U.S. military options;
  • reestablish America as the world leader in renewable technologies and economic growth;
  • significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution

Energize America - A Blueprint for U.S.  Energy Security

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The flyer version

Energize America - A Blueprint for U.S.  energy security

America is at a critical crossroads regarding energy policies.  We can drift further down a path of increasing - and increasingly dangerous - dependence on imported oil, or we can boldly choose a future that will Energize America by diversifying our energy sources, promoting energy efficiency and substantially expanding America's renewable energy industrial base.

The risks of maintaining the status quo are simply too great to ignore, especially as petroleum production begins to decline while worldwide demand is rapidly increasing.  Our continued dependence on fossil fuels, combined with this expected growing global mismatch between petroleum supply and demand, threatens to cripple our economy, destroy our environment and hold our foreign policy and military hostage to the whims of unstable regions of the world.  America's political leaders have failed for decades to seriously address this crucial issue. The Energy Policy Act of 2005 is a sad demonstration of that failure in that it compounds our problems by making the nation ever more dependent on imported oil, with little care given to long-term stability or environmental stewardship.

Americans increasingly realize that we must act now to put our country on a path toward energy independence.  This journey will not always be easy, nor will it be quick - but it is an essential and honorable effort that will ensure economic prosperity, strengthen national security and protect our environment for future generations of Americans.

Energize America is a modern day "Apollo Project," similar to President Kennedy's 1960s plan that electrified the world and united the nation around the previously unthinkable goal of landing an American on the moon.

Energize America will make it possible to achieve energy independence within our children's lifetimes.  Just as President Kennedy's call to action inspired a generation, so too will Energize America. The United States can once again serve as a beacon of hope, opportunity and prosperity, but we must act now, with clear focus and national purpose.

By 2020, Energize America will reduce oil and gas imports by 20%, reduce carbon emissions by 20% and generate 20% of electricity from renewable sources. This will:

  • Increase energy diversity to strengthen our national security and economic stability
  • Replace current energy policies that leave America vulnerable
  • Promote energy efficiency and conservation to protect Americans and the environment
  • Invest in renewable energy to create jobs and enhance America's technological leadership


Energize America's goals are "SMART"

  • Strategic - they greatly reduce our dependence on foreign oil and help make America more secure;
  • Measurable - their progress will be visible to all;
  • Aggressive - because we need to begin what will be a decades-long move away from our dependence on foreign oil before it is too late;
  • Realistic - they are attainable with sustained personal commitment and steady political leadership; they will require significant investment but will provide a solid return;
  • Targeted - at developing renewable energy sources, improving energy efficiency and protecting our environment.

Increase energy diversity

Energize America will provide 20% of electricity from renewable sources

America's reliance on imported oil threatens our national security and economic stability.  Foreign relations, homeland security and our economy are intertwined with energy policy.   America imports 60% of the oil it consumes, and U.S.  demand continues to grow in the face of shrinking supply and rapidly growing global demand.  As developing countries increasingly compete with the United States for depleting supplies, oil prices will rise dramatically, setting the foundation for global turmoil as countries mobilize to protect their interests.

Only by building independent and sustainable energy sources and infrasturcture can we avoid potentially catastrophic consequences in the global race for energy security.  Today, interruptions in oil and gas supplies can cause significant disruptions in our way of life.  Energy diversity, and infrastructure diversity, will insulate Americans from these supply disruptions, whether they are caused by natural disasters or political upheaval.

Energize America will make it possible for U.S.  entrepreneurs and companies to invest in American-made energy technology tailored to regional needs, and it will encourage the growth of all renewable energies technologies, known (solar, wind, geothermal, bio-mass and biofuels), tentative (long-life batteries, thermal depolymerisation), and others as yet unknown. It will support demonstration projects for both "coal-to-liquids" technology and "intrinsically safe" nuclear power-plant design.  It will ensure that best environmental practices are consistently applied to the indispensable coal-based power industry.

Promote energy efficiency

Energize America will reduce imported oil and gas by 20%

In addition to diversifying our energy sources, Energize America will help all Americans be more efficient consumers of the energy we have.  The most immediate way to reduce our dependence on imported oil without impairing our quality of life is to eliminate waste, encourage energy-smart consumption and remove obstacles to innovation.  

Innovation is an American birthright.  Forty years ago, the Apollo Project captured the world's imagination.  Twenty years ago, American-made wind turbines were the world's most advanced. For decades, American automotive technology was the most advanced. Now Asia and Europe enjoy an increasing lead in the rapidly growing market for ultra-fuel-efficient cars and Europe has taken the lead in wind energy.  

Energize America will support math and science education to develop the next generation of energy-aware American engineers, and will provide for worker training and retraining to support the migration to a national culture of energy efficiency.

Energize America will mandate the federal government to lead by example and spur innovation by spending federal money only on cars, buildings and other equipment that meet new energy-efficiency standards.

Energize America will help homeowners and consumers to make informed choices in the migration to ultra-fuel-efficient cars and energy-smart buildings.

Invest in renewable energy

Energize America willreduce carbon emissions by 20%.

Global climate change is now undoubtedly linked to human activity and, in particular, to greenhouse gas emissions, whether carbon dioxide or methane from power generation, car exhausts or landfills. In addition to creating economic growth, renewable energies help us protect the environment and to preserve pristine public lands for future use by reducing the need to mine and burn hydrocarbons.  Cleaner land, air and water will make our planet a safer place to live, and can improve the quality of life for all Americans.

Renewable energy technology has matured rapidly.  Once considered economically unfeasible or technically impractical, solar and wind power are now being aggressively deployed worldwide.  Global investment in renewable energy reached a record $30 billion in 2004.  America will not only participate in these important new global markets, but will lead through the development and production of high-value, American-made, exportable renewable-energy solutions.

Energize America will make America the global leader in renewable energy technology, equipment and production.

Energize America will restore America's technological edge through improved innovation and investments in education and industry that will create well-paying jobs and exportable American-made products, while leaving our land cleaner and our nation more secure.

Energize America's agenda includes comprehensive legislation and a funding strategy targeted at transportation, power generation, energy efficiency and protection of the environment.


By 2020, Energize America will reduce oil and gas imports by 20%, reduce carbon emissions by 20%, and generate 20% of electricity from renewable sources.

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The Legislative Agenda

Energize America includes a comprehensive set of proposed legislation, which can be implemented collectively or individually.  Not all legislative items are equally important, but all are vital to reforming our national energy posture and putting America on a path of energy independence.

TRANSPORTATION

1. The Automotive Mileage and Pollution Credit Act

The Energy Policy and Conservation Act of 1975 established corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) standards for new passenger cars, currently about 22 miles per gallon (mpg) for all vehicles combined. Passenger vehicles account for approximately 40 percent of all U.S. oil consumption, so increasing fuel efficiency is the quickest way to reduce our foreign oil dependence. Passenger vehicles also contribute about 20 percent of all U.S. carbon-dioxide emissions, so increasing fuel efficiency helps reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Energize America proposes a fresh approach to both CAFE standards and the current federal rebate on fuel-stingy hybrids.

Energize America proposes to provide Americans who buy a car or pickup truck with a $200 rebate for every mile per gallon the new vehicle comes in above the national average through 2015, adjusted annually. For example, a 2005 Ford Escape hybrid, which has a 33mpg rating, would qualify for a rebate of $2200 ($200 x 11mpg). The rebate program will apply to all qualifying vehicles (whether hybrids, diesels, fuel-cell or other), with a rebate cap of $6,000. Rebates for commercial vehicles will be calculated based upon their relative reduction in the amount of pollution produced by a vehicle in normal operation.

This act will cost an estimated $24 billion in 2007, growing to $58 billion per year in 2025, but will yield energy savings worth $8 billion to Americans in 2008, growing to $125 billion in 2025. The average efficiency of America's car fleet (trucks included) will increase from today's 21mpg to 32mpg. America's fuel-import bill will be reduced by 14% in 2015 (worth $40 billion at today's oil prices) and 24% in 2025 ($85 billion) and carbon emissions will be cut by 254 million tons in 2025 (or 51%, worth $7 billion at current market prices) compared to the situation if nothing were done.

2. Government Fleet Conversion Act

Energize America will require that within two years of passage of this act the government begin to purchase the highest-mileage, lowest-polluting vehicles available for any given task, and that within five years of passage, the entire federal government fleet be replaced by high-efficiency vehicles.  This act will also provide incentives to state and municipal governments to do the same.  Such a program will guarantee to manufacturers a large client base for efficient vehicles, and will eliminate the purchase of many low-mileage vehicles now marketed primarily for fleet purchases.  

While it would be good to begin enforcement of these rules immediately on passage, U.S.  manufacturers are currently unable to offer competitive vehicles in many segments.  A program that spurs the purchase of foreign-made cars and light trucks would likely mean additional erosion in American jobs. To give U.S.  manufacturers a fair chance to compete, a two-year window will thus be provided after signing. For example, if this bill were passed in January 2007, all new government fleet purchases would be high-mileage vehicles beginning in 2009 and the federal fleet would be fully converted by 2012.

With a federal, state and local fleet of approximately [x00,000] vehicles, this program would yield oil savings worth [$xx billion] per year from 2012, thus bringing an equivalent amount in budgetary spending at no cost to public budgets as most public sector cars are renewed every [3] years today. (input with numbers here kindly requested from Kossacks)

3. Bus Fleet Conversion Act

A few municipal mass-transit agencies and school districts are converting their bus fleets from those that burn gasoline and petroleum diesel to those that burn compressed natural gas. A handful are looking at buying hybrid electrics or converting to biodiesel, a fuel made from vegetable oils.  By using incentives for end users and guaranteeing a market to manufacturers, the Bus Fleet Conversion Act will mandate conversion of the nation's bus fleets to natural gas, electric, hybrid-electric or biodiesel over a period of 10 years from the date of signing.

With a nationwide fleet consuming 120,000 barrels of oil per day, this program would yield petroleum savings worth nearly $4 billion per year from 2015. Incentives would be sized to make this act "revenue neutral" to States and localities.

4. Telecommuting Assistance Act

Energize America will establish a tax credit for companies that use telecommuting to reduce employee travel.  The maximum credit will be set at $2,000 per year for a full-time employee who telecommutes five days a week. This will be pro-rated on a $400-a-day basis for employees averaging fewer than five days a week telecommuting. To receive the credit, companies must agree not to outsource the credited position to an overseas firm for a period of at least five years.  In addition, the act will impose a return to older, more relaxed IRS rules to allow telecommuting workers to claim a portion of their house as an office for income-tax purposes.

If by 2015, an estimated one million white-collar workers ([10]% of the relevant work force - again input with numbers here kindly requested from Kossacks) switch to telecommuting an average of two days per week, the fuel savings would amount to 200 million gallons yearly (or $400 million at current prices) for a budgetary cost of $800 million a year. Companies would also benefit from lower office-rental requirements, and all Americans would benefit from less gridlock.

5. Passenger Rail Restoration Act

American passenger rail service could rebound if a single modification were made - increased speed on dedicated infrastructure. Energize America proposes a federal-state-private partnership to build, equip and operate two new high-speed rail lines using existing technology, such as Japan's bullet trains or Germany's Inter City Express trains. One system would be built in the Northeast (e.g., New York City to Washington), and one in the South or West (e.g., Los Angeles to San Francisco).  European experience shows that high-speed trains are more convenient, faster and profitable on high-density or metropolis-to-metropolis lines up to 400 miles.

Federal involvement would be limited to facilitating the permitting procedures and providing a stable regulatory framework over at least 25 years of operations of these high-speed lines, which would be built, financed and operated by the private sector.

POWER GENERATION

A variety of renewable energies have come a long way in the past three decades, particularly wind turbines and photovoltaics. These renewable sources still only provide a tiny fraction of America's (and the world's) electricity. To reach Energize America's goal of generating 20% of our electricity with renewables by 2020, the act proposes to support by legislative initiatives the following programs:

6. Clean Coal Generation Act

Coal is relatively cheap and extraordinarily abundant in the United States. At present, coal generates about half of America's electricity, with dozens of new plants being built across the country. For the next half-century, coal-burning power plants are currently planned to be the primary source of electricity. Given coal's potentially devastating environmental damage, it is essential that we improve every aspect of our use of coal. The act would:

  • Outlaw mountain top removal that is denuding mountains and choking streams across Appalachia. Limit surface mining to areas where "return to contour" is the rule. Ban all dumping of spoil into waterways.

  • Stop serial offenders by steeply increasing fines on failures to protect the environment.

  • Allow easier prosecution of those who use "shadow companies" to evade environmental and safety regulations in the coal industry.

  • Repeal the "Clear Skies Act" and return to the previously passed Clean Air Act provisions. Coal-burning plants should no longer be allowed to expand under regulations that allow them to pollute the way they did 25 years ago. The act sets 2020 as the deadline for bringing all coal-burning plants into full compliance.

The costs of this act will be limited to the federal budget, as they will bear essentially on the coal companies themselves, by forcing them to adapt environmental "best practices." Such practices reflect the need for this industry not to pollute or otherwise despoil our lands, the air we breathe or the water we drink, and will be implemented in a consistent way so as to ensure a level playing field for the industry.

7. Extension of the Wind Energy Production Tax Credit from 2007 to 2015.

The United States will have an estimated 15,000 megawatts of installed wind-power capacity by 2007. An enhanced Production Tax Credit (PTC) could raise that figure in the short run and vastly expand it after 2009 by providing wind-farm entrepreneurs a stable and predictable market.

In a country mourning the lost of manufacturing jobs and aching for clean, low-cost power, wind power offers benefits on both fronts.  Wind-turbine manufacturing would create new heavy-industry jobs at home, jobs whose product can readily be exported.  To enable this future, there has to be a stable, long-term demand for wind power.  Building 10 megawatts of wind generation capacity brings with it approximately 40 jobs over the one-year construction period, and two full-time jobs over 20 years, for a total of 80 person-years of new employment, and an expected 50,000 well qualified jobs under the act in 2015.

The budgetary cost of the PTC would reach a maximum or $700 million a year in 2015, but would turn into a surplus as the newly created jobs generated income-tax revenue in addition to benefits to local economies (where the wind farms are built and operate) and to the communities where the industrial capacity will be based.

8. Five Million Solar Roofs Initiative

Originally proposed as the One Million Solar Roofs Initiative by the Solar Energy Industries Association in 1997, and endorsed by President Clinton, this initiative needs to be pushed much further than has been done so far.

Energize America's plan will put five million electricity-generating systems on American roofs between now and 2012 by tripling the current tax credit of $2,000 to $6,000 for residential solar installations and extending the program beyond its 2007 cut-off.

At an annual cost of less than $400 million over the next 15 years, the program will add 15,000 megawatts of solar electricity, more than 15 times the currently installed amount of such power worldwide, and equal to the power provided by 50 typical coal-fired plants.  By spurring demand, this act will provide ready market for solar products, encourage American entrepreneurs to create new products, and spur the creation of small businesses. It will create an estimated 100,000 jobs in the United States.

9. Renewable Portfolio Standards Act

Nineteen states already mandate that small amounts of retail electricity sold within their borders come from renewables, and other states are considering similar requirements. With milestones set at 5, 10 and 15 years, and assisted by tradable "Renewable Energy Certificates" (RECs) linked to overall kilowatt-hours, this act will require all but the smallest utilities to generate 15% of their electricity from renewable energy sources by 2020. Companies that generate power from qualifying renewable facilities will be issued RECs that they can hold for their own use or sell to others. Plants that fail to meet the targets will be forced to either purchase RECs from others that have exceeded their goals, or pay fines.  

By focusing the act on net results rather than imposing specific solutions, the act will allow providers to invest in methods most suitable to their areas, and develop renewable energy sources under market mechanisms.  

10. The Federal "Net Metering" Act

Programs that allow homes to sell power back to energy companies during times of high generation (effectively running their meters in reverse) exist in several states, but these programs are a hodge-podge of local regulations. Energize America will provide Federal regulations to standardize this practice and expand it nationwide. We expect consumers to generate 5% of American electrical energy by 2020.

11. Federal Alternative Energy Demonstration Act

By means of venture capital and a federal grant program, this act will promote the construction of one major, experimental alternative power project in each state of the Union or large metropolitan area. Americans need to see alternative energy as both economical and practical. Highly visible projects can help build confidence, validate new technologies, promote public education and develop cutting edge expertise. These demonstration projects could include wind, solar, biomass, biofuel, ocean thermal, geothermal and other energy sources that have not yet been tested in a full-scale model.  The specific Energy Demonstration project deployed in each state will be determined by each state's legislature. State or private funds will be matched by federal funds one-for-one up to $100 million per project, for a total cost of up to $5 billion over 10 years.

12. Coal Liquefaction Demonstration Project Act

Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer has given fresh attention to an old technology that turns coal into liquid fuel that, if produced in large enough quantities, could reduce the need for imported petroleum. A significant investment in coal-to-liquids could theoretically fuel tens of millions of America's vehicles until a more sustainable technology became available. However, there are serious questions at every step of the way, from energy-efficient extraction to environmental impact concerns.

The modernized Fischer-Tropsch technique that Schweitzer and others have proposed as the method to convert America's abundant coal reserves into synthetic fuels needs a full-scale test. The act will set the parameters for a public-private partnership to build and operate two coal-to-liquid plants using state-of-art "scrubbers," carbon dioxide sequestration and other strict environmental controls.

13. The Standard Nuclear Power and Demonstration Project Act

While many people have understandable reservations about nuclear power, it can serve as a reliable source of "dispatchable" energy to meet baseload demand, especially over the next 20 years as large-scale renewable energy sources come on line.  Nuclear power is at a standstill because of well-justified environmental and safety concerns.  A new nuclear plant has not been built in the United States for more than 20 years, despite promising technology advances.  To clearly understand nuclear power's potential for cost-effective and environmentally-sound energy, this act would have the federal government:

  • In partnership with industry, mandate the siting, design and construction of a full-scale "intrinsically safe" nuclear power plant to test its suitability as a pioneer for a new generation of nuclear plants;

  • Work with the IAEA to create new standards for the regulation and inspection of nuclear plants worldwide, and for improved regulation of nuclear waste;

  • Investigate and standardize means of waste disposal, while understanding that no solution will be perfect.

  • If the test plant proves itself, and waste disposal problems are resolved, the act would provide incentives for expansion of nuclear power by allowing the construction of additional plants that conform to a standard, intrinsically safe design.  All such plants would require that uniform planning, site evaluation, construction, disposal and operations be carried out to ensure environmental, worker and general public safety, and all such plants would have to meet the regular inspection regime of independent inspectors.

ENVIRONMENT AND REGULATORY FRAMEWORK

14. Coal Generation Carbon Reduction Act

In close relation to the Clean Coal Generation Act, and the Carbon Reduction Act below, the Clean Generation Act will apply to coal-fired power plants as well as to other large industries that generate significant volumes of greenhouse gases. It will

  • Regulate carbon dioxide as a pollutant. Just as the Clean Air Act imposes a gradually more stringent series of guidelines on other pollutants, Energize America's Clean Generation Act does the same with carbon dioxide. By 2020, all coal-fired power plants should be operating at 20% reduced CO2 levels. By 2040, we should require that total production of CO2 be cut in half through both scrubbing and sequestration.

  • Revise pollutant certificate trading. Producers who invest in technology that puts them ahead of government requirements get a payback by selling the "right to pollute" to less-advanced producers. However, these certificates should be regional, not nationwide, to prevent a large "pollution bull's-eye" in the Midwest and resultant spread of these pollutants along a corridor of the east. Energize America would add CO2 certificates (which are already traded on a voluntary basis) to the mix.

  • To ensure that transforming coal into synthetic fuels represents an actual improvement in CO2 production over burning petroleum products, all coal liquefaction or gasification plants should be required to use sequestration or scrubbing from the outset.

15. Carbon Reduction Act

Leading experts believe that average temperatures across the world will climb by several degrees over the coming century. Icecaps and glaciers are already melting, sea levels are rising, and extreme weather events are occurring more frequently. Some portion of this change comes from burning hydrocarbons and producing carbon dioxide. Moreover, burning hydrocarbons causes health problems for many people. By themselves, the potential economic costs of these health effects and a changing climate run into the trillions of dollars.

The Carbon Reduction Act will formalize trading in CO2 certificates, and impose a gradually tightening regime of CO2 emissions standards.  In parallel to the Coal Generation Carbon Reduction Act, it will apply to all industrial sectors that are significant producers of greenhouse gases on a consistent and predictable fashion.

At the same time, the act will call for the United States  to reengage the world community on global climate change.  America must rejoin and lead international efforts to find remedies for the ill effects of climate change, and make sure that worldwide efforts are fair, thorough and do not put U.S. industry at a competitive disadvantage.

16. Federal Energy Policy Enforcement Act

Good energy policy requires reliable, fair and consistent application and enforcement of rules. Specialized agencies like the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the Securities and Exchange Commission can do their job and enforce these acts only if they have the proper support, political and material. This legislation will increase the agencies' capacity to detect and react to fraud and compliance failures, heighten their ability to punish scofflaws, and ensure non-partisanship by proposing new rules for the nomination of their top officers.

Budgets will be doubled in real terms from their current levels over the next 15 years in order for these administrations to cope with the workload required of them in the implementation of the proposed Energize America legislation, with dedicated and specially trained agents in each agency.

Energize America requires sustained effort and discipline, and these agencies will be the leading actors in ensuring that such effort is shared fairly and brings the desired results for all.

EFFICIENCY AND EDUCATION

17. National Energy Efficiency Act

Over the past 25 years, conservation has been frowned upon among many Americans because people have believed, as Ronald Reagan once said, that they will "freeze to death in the dark." But conservation doesn't require physical discomfort or giving up modern conveniences. In fact, due to increased efficiencies, Americans are already using 25% less electricity than was predicted 30 years ago.

Moreover, conservation displaces much more expensive and polluting sources of energy.  Amory and Hunter Lovins of the Rocky Mountain Institute term these savings "negawatts," and it is both the cheapest and most effective type of reform in the short term. The act includes:

  • Development of an energy education curriculum for elementary and secondary schools. Conservation is like driver's education - every generation needs it.

  • Fund the deployment of SUN centers in every state. Under Jimmy Carter, four regional SUN centers were established nationwide to provide outreach to consumers eager to learn how to be more efficient in their energy consumption.  Information provided ranged from the simplest - like weatherizing and shopping for energy-saving appliances; to the most complex - like designing a house to take advantage of natural lighting and heating.  

  • Launch an independent federal review of appliance efficiency with an eye toward boosting standards as new technology becomes cost effective.  This review would also ensure that consumers get accurate, easy-to-understand information about the true energy costs of their appliances.

  • Require all new federal buildings, as well as state and local government buildings constructed with federal assistance to be designed and built with the highest level of energy efficiency feasible, including being as energy self-sufficient as technologically possible on the date the design for each such building is approved.  Currently, the federal government operates under the Energy Savings Performance Contract, which allows private contractors to help federal agencies improve the energy efficiency of their facilities. This voluntary initiative will be made mandatory.

18. Home Improvement Credit Act

Home owners and rental-property landlords who upgrade their dwellings according to a standard, geographically-adjusted conservation-and-efficiency formula will receive tax credits up to 50% of the cost of the upgrade. New or old homes purchased with FHA or FmHA loans will be required to meet conservation standards.  Low-cost loans will be provided under the auspices of the same agencies to cover any needed upgrades.  This will ensure that consumers at the lower economic end of the home-buying spectrum are not disadvantaged with homes that are cheaper to buy, but costly to heat and cool.  

19. Demand Side Management and Profit Decoupling Act

Utilities are often in the best position to know what would generate the most savings in energy use at home or in our offices, but for as long as their income derive from selling more power, they will have no incentive to provide such energy-smart advice. This act aims to change this, by allowing utilities to profit from any energy savings that they can generate for their clients. It will include:

  • tax credits for energy audits and energy-saving investments for clients, up to 50% of the net energy saved over 5 years;

  • accelerated depreciation for all energy efficiency and renewable energy investments.

  • buildings that meet the highest energy-efficiency standards are open for accelerated depreciation for entire project

  • construction that meets EERI standards accelerated to 15-year rather than the current depreciation of 27 and 33 years.

  • a U.S.-wide Demand Side Management program of no less than 2.5% for all utilities (gas, electric) (with the exception that renewable energy sources are not required to be counted in gross revenues).

  • Profit Decoupling:  The federal government will work to establish guidelines with state governments so that all utilities that commit (and maintain) a DSM program of 4 percent of gross revenues will be enabled to capture profits from efficiency programs through profit decoupling.

FUNDING ENERGIZE AMERICA

Our aim is a legislative package that pays for itself over its life to 2020. In order to get there, a general rule in each of the above Acts will be that all incentives should go to goods and services that help improve energy efficiency or energy independence, while taxes or penalties should be borne by energy-intensive or wasteful activities.

20. Energy Research Funding Act ("Energy Cents Make Sense")

This act implements a compounded one-cent per gallon federal gasoline tax, with the tax increasing one cent a month for 10 years.  Proceeds would go to fund, in addition to the Acts above, specific programs, including:

  • general funding of research and experimental pilot projects in renewable energy production;
  •  support for R&D for ultra-dense energy storage (batteries);
  •  Improvements in materials recycling and energy conservation;
  •  Energy subsidies to low-income families

In the first month, the tax would be only one cent, barely noticeable, but with gasoline consumption at 320 million gallons per day, that single cent would generate almost $10 million a month for energy research.  At the end of the first year, the act would be generating more than $100 million a month for energy research.  At the end of the 10-year period, the total tax would be $1.20 per gallon.

Altogether, the program would require a cumulative investment of $36 billion by the third year, which would turn into a net benefit by year six, and would generate massive economic value for Americans in the long run.

We intend to provide detailed yearly budget projections in the next version of Energize America, and we count on professional numbercrunchers amongst kossacks to volunteer to assist us in that endeavor.

Display:
Please go recommend and choose your favorite bumper sticker.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Tue Dec 13th, 2005 at 09:19:45 AM EST
I'm going to have to agree with Welshman and revert to the Athenian treatment.

Have a 4,

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Dec 13th, 2005 at 09:25:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
What's the Athenian treatment?

And may I kindly ask you (and others) not to mention Welshman on this site. It's a pain already to have to tolerate his obnoxious comments on dKos.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Tue Dec 13th, 2005 at 09:49:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'll be happy not to, as long as you don't bring your feud with Welshman to my e-mail inbox. I still don't know what that is about.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Dec 13th, 2005 at 10:12:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Sorry about that Migeru. Nothing to do with you.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Tue Dec 13th, 2005 at 04:30:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Rec'd...

As an aside, I'd like to say that I think it's pretty damn impressive that you (one of our own dubious European types) got yourself nominated for FP at dKos. It's a shame you didn't get it, but I think as a non-resident in the US you were always up against it.

But, I want to say, don't be downhearted. EuroTrib can be bigger than dKos and you are someone who can make it happen. It'll be a long road (much like my search for gainful employment, in fact I hope that I find employment long before that distant day) but there is some special potential here.

by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Tue Dec 13th, 2005 at 09:50:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Jerome was such an obvious choice it is hard to explain his not being chosen. I wonder, given the obsession with 'framing' and all that, if there wasn't concern that in an election year and with dreams of swaying public opinion, a furriner, let alone a French one, would not make a good public face for dkos. Americans are ridiculous about such things. Past is past in any case.

Experience keeps a dear school, but fools will learn in no other. -- Dr Johnson
by melvin (melvingladys at or near yahoo.com) on Tue Dec 13th, 2005 at 12:31:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I think it was the foreigner thing that did it. He doesn't need to be a front-pager to contribute his expertise on energy, from a dKos point of view.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Dec 13th, 2005 at 12:37:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It is not only about contributing expertise, right ?
Interestingly, most of the comments  in this thread do not deal with the topic of the debate "energize America" but on the grounds behind Jerome's not being chosen...

When through hell, just keep going. W. Churchill
by Agnes a Paris on Sun Dec 18th, 2005 at 12:44:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]


When through hell, just keep going. W. Churchill
by Agnes a Paris on Sun Dec 18th, 2005 at 12:39:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You are all forgetting one little detail. One of the rules Kos set for the frontpagers was that they should put DKos first and above their personal blogs. On the one hand, ET is not called Jerome's Tribune for a reason, but on the other hand...

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Dec 13th, 2005 at 01:46:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
If I'm not mistaken, I think you all are forgetting that Kos, himself, is a foreigner.  (You'd never know it by listening to him, since he speaks English better than most of my relatives in Georgia -- not that that's saying much.)  His family left South Amercia -- Colombia, I believe -- when the civil war began.

Jerome's work at ET was likely a big reason for the decision.  I still think he deserved to be on the front page.  dKos needs a proper economist as a front-pager, in my opinion.

Plus, I really can't see any issue coming up about which Jerome's nationality would matter.  Were it not for the "a Paris" in his screen name, you'd never know, anyway.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.

by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Tue Dec 13th, 2005 at 02:42:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Is Kos a foreigner or foreign-born?

Then again, you've got to be kidding about Jérôme's nationality not being a political issue. Acoording to the documentary Outfoxed, Faux News election reporting included regular suggestions that John Kerry was French. And you know Faux viewers still believe Saddam was involve in 9/11 and had WMD.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Dec 13th, 2005 at 02:50:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I know.  I own a copy of the movie.

I'm not sure what you mean by "foreigner" vs "foreign-born".  The ignorant xenophobes in America see them as the same.

And Kerry didn't lose because of Faux News calling him French.  It was actually a Bush campaign staffer who said, "He (Kerry) looks French" -- Ken Mehlman, maybe.  Faux just echoed the line.  But remember that, while it has more viewers than the other two newschannels (MSNBC and CNN), Faux still only controls a very small audience -- and one that was already planning to support Bush.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.

by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Tue Dec 13th, 2005 at 02:57:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I mean, is Kos a citizen? That tends to matter to people. I got shut up in the middle of supposedly friendly conversations for that very reason.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Dec 13th, 2005 at 03:00:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Kos was born in America. His mother was from El Salvador I believe. They returned there to be with her family when Kos was very young. Once the war (instigated by USA with Ira/Contra) things got bad and they returned to the USA.

This is from memory. It is in Kos' bio on his blog.

"A nation can survive its fools, and even the ambitious. But it cannot survive treason from within." Cicero

by Grandma M on Tue Dec 13th, 2005 at 03:20:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I basically agree, I see the dKos focus in kos' mind as on the US elections upcoming. Americans can be very, uhm, sensitive about foreigners expressing a view on who governs the US and how.
by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Tue Dec 13th, 2005 at 04:26:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That's certainly true.  In my experience, they're more sensitive to views expressed by Latin-American and Middle-Eastern immigrants.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.
by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Wed Dec 14th, 2005 at 06:42:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Which country would not be ?

When through hell, just keep going. W. Churchill
by Agnes a Paris on Sun Dec 18th, 2005 at 12:37:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Would that make much of a difference in practice  if it was actually called Jerome's tribune ?

When through hell, just keep going. W. Churchill
by Agnes a Paris on Sun Dec 18th, 2005 at 12:40:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I am quite new on ET and on blogs in general. It was my naive impression that this was an open forum, not a place where mostly recognition is at stake. This is not a general comment aimed at all ET contributors, the bulk bringing up thought provoking and relevant topics.
I appreciate it is hard for Jerome not to have made it on DKos ; as you say, ET can be as big as DKos, but shall prominence on ET be used as nothing but an instrument on the ladder up to DKos ?

When through hell, just keep going. W. Churchill
by Agnes a Paris on Sun Dec 18th, 2005 at 12:36:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
My statement was in fact designed to encourage the notion that ET is a viable and useful end in itself.
by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Wed Dec 21st, 2005 at 02:57:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
"Worth reading"--

http://www.altenergyaction.org/

On same web page see "Amory Lovins Misleads With Numbers".

by Plan9 on Sat Dec 24th, 2005 at 11:43:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I recently proposed a gasoline inefficiency tax. This would be based upon the difference between the vehicle's milage and some standard. I think this would be better than an efficiency bribe. It would raise money instead of costing the treasury and would make socially harmful behavior less worthwhile. Giving a rebate only promotes the purchasing of even more vehicles. We need to get the number of vehicles on the road down, not just their fuel usage.

I realize this is a set of goals, but without a serious consideration of where the resistance to change is going to come from and how to overcome it, there is little chance for implementation. Perhaps a companion document which discusses this on a point by point basis. Overcoming the status quo is always the most difficult task.

There needs to be some more emphasis on getting away from the growth paradigm that underlies all economic planning. The only item that I see that relates to this is the one on telecommuting. Perhaps it is because I'm in the midst of reading the works of Herman Daly, but the US has already passed the level of sustainable economic size. It is plundering the rest of the world's resources to support this. As other economies grow the shortages of resources will become an even bigger factor. There should be some planning for the transition to a sustainable society as part of the task of lowering energy consumption.


Policies not Politics
---- Daily Landscape

by rdf (robert.feinman@gmail.com) on Tue Dec 13th, 2005 at 11:37:40 AM EST
Your idea is great policy-wise. The hard part is to sell is politically. We have set ourselves an explicit goal to have a chance for our project to be politically viable. That certainly makes it less ambitious on some things, but the hope is that it will at least change the general direction of things towards something more sustainable.

We'll see.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Tue Dec 13th, 2005 at 04:33:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I've been think about the difference between incentives for buying more efficient autos versus a tax on inefficiency.

I still think that a rebate won't work. The auto makers will increase the price of the cars by an amount that will effectively equal the rebate so the net savings to the consumer will be zero.

A tax on the buyer, however, will not alter the sellers behavior except indirectly as it reduces demand for less efficient autos and encourages them to produce more high milage vehicles.

I don't think political expediency should be a criteria for setting goals. With the current political climate none of these proposals are going anywhere in the near future.


Policies not Politics
---- Daily Landscape

by rdf (robert.feinman@gmail.com) on Tue Dec 20th, 2005 at 10:05:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
No they don't. The rebate does go to the consumer, as experience in Europe shows.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Tue Dec 20th, 2005 at 04:01:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
How do you know the auto maker hasn't altered the price of the vehicle? Even if there wasn't an explicit increase in a given year it can easily be bundled in during a model year change. This can be either through a price increase or by altering the features to be cheaper than previously.

The makers have an expectation of "what the market will bear" and know that a rebate will allow the buyer to purchase a more expensive item, so I think the question of whether a rebate is taken by the maker is really unanswerable.

If you want to imply that there is a positive psychological effect on the buyer pushing them towards the more efficient product, then I think we are in agreement. They just may not be getting the break they think they are.


Policies not Politics
---- Daily Landscape

by rdf (robert.feinman@gmail.com) on Tue Dec 20th, 2005 at 04:28:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Energize America - A Blueprint for U.S.  energy security

My favorite, but I should come up with suggestions as well.  

Great work Jerome!

by Causa on Tue Dec 13th, 2005 at 11:46:11 AM EST
Super work. You folks deserve gold metals.

And all the support we can muster.

Energize America with
more energy sources
more energy efficiency  
renewable energy industry
Power by the people and for the people.
For our generation and future generations.

by Gary McGowan on Tue Dec 13th, 2005 at 11:53:38 AM EST

Stellar Work!! WOW!! Whatever is your line of work? You are an absolute genius. Impressive. Very Very Impressive.

I'd like to offer a couple of input ideas:

  1. I read about a power plant being built in Minnesota using "Turkey Litter". The articles are Here and Here. Do you think this has viability as an alternative form of power for rural areas? Could something like "Poultry Litter" (includes chickens, ducks and geese) be an alternative source in other countries?

  2. The incremental 1 cent a month tax per month may not sound like much but really adds up. As of today, there is a federal tax of around 35-50 cents per gallon of gas (don't know enough math to translate that into liters). That is used for Federal Highway maintenance and building.

Each state also adds a tax on top of that. New Hampshire is around 17 cents/gallon where as Rhode Island is closer to 60 cents per gallon. The funds are either put into general revenues (like Rhode Island) or used specifically for state highway maintenance (as in New Hampshire). This causes dramatic price variances state by state for petrol.

As you can see, adding your proposed $1.20 overall to federal and state taxes could actually turn away support for the idea. $5-6/per gallon would have your average American "up in arms" and it would negate the good you are trying to accomplish.

Lastly I would like to offer a suggestion on the flyer. It is extremely well written (yup I used to teach college English). It is written at a graduate school level (lots of compound sentences and adverb clauses). Republicans have really really DUMBED down education in America over the last 20 years. Short declarative sentences work best for the "average Joe". Think of the British Comedy "The Office" for the right balance of English to use.

If you like, I will try and work on it over time-but cannot promise an exact end date due to to my health and circumstance, but can promise before 1 February 2006. Please let me know.

"A nation can survive its fools, and even the ambitious. But it cannot survive treason from within." Cicero

by Grandma M on Tue Dec 13th, 2005 at 12:55:01 PM EST
So they need an added "Energize America for Dummies" then?
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Dec 13th, 2005 at 01:06:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Absolutely!  And can I help with the dummies' bumberstickers?  Get plugged in!  Keep humming along!  Catch the buzz!!  I got a million of 'em...

Seriously, though -- great work Jerome (and DT, MB, etc.).  I'm too awed to comment appropriately (for anyone hearing this read out loud, feel free to take the comment either way).

Maybe we can eventually make language a complete impediment to understanding. -Hobbes

by Izzy (izzy at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Dec 13th, 2005 at 02:34:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I add my WOWs to the rest of the group!!! This is impressive and a great collaborative initiative which I truly hope will get good traction.

I agree with what some, like grandma and colman, have already pointed out. Yes what's needed is a "dummed" down less wordy version for the documents and the bumper stickers for the so called "average" american. Having some rhyme or alliteration to the bumper sticker/logos would also make them easier to remember.

So far my favorite bumper stickers are "Energize America" and I like the idea behind "Energize America will diversify our energy sources, promote energy efficiency and substantially expand America's renewable energy industrial base." However, the second on reads too much like a sentence. Here's my attempt to sum it up:  "Energize American - diverse resources, efficient use and renewable energy".

I like the unspoken reference the "Energize America" logo has to the now very famous and often parodied energizer bunny ads. Maybe some funny ads or posters could be done with that in mind (when one gets to that stage).

by Alexandra in WMass (alexandra_wmass[a|t]yahoo[d|o|t]fr) on Wed Dec 14th, 2005 at 08:41:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
But we all have it wrong here. No matter how much we praise Jerome on ET, the right place would be DKos.

When through hell, just keep going. W. Churchill
by Agnes a Paris on Sun Dec 18th, 2005 at 12:48:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
And totally achievable if the importance of it is recognized as a national goal.

If the Democrats don't take it on board as THE Major platform - then they deserve to wither.

One question: Can this be made available as a pdf for distribution? It could really change a few minds and energize people. It is well written and easy to understand. It is comprehensive. It applies to most developed countries.

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Tue Dec 13th, 2005 at 02:21:49 PM EST
That's the intent - make each of the pieces into "real" documents - the bumperstickers, the credit card version, the flyer... and hopefully kossack graphics designers and editors will help us to make them into nice documents, which sould be available in pdf or other formats for distribution.

So far we've worked only on content. At some point, we'll need to confrotn the proposals with real politicians, and we'll see how that goes...

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Tue Dec 13th, 2005 at 04:19:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
This is a great proposal -- right on the incentive structure, and right on paying proper attention to the financing.  Maybe somebody from the Hill will see it on dKos and actually begin work on getting something done about it.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.
by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Tue Dec 13th, 2005 at 02:47:42 PM EST
Yeah. it'll probably get stolen by Republicans while the Democrats agonize over whether they'll lose the swing voters if they push it.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Dec 13th, 2005 at 02:52:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The more likely scenario would involve the Republicans stealing the rhetoric and then changing the proposal to one that would actually increase our dependence of fossil fuels.  They did something similar to this when the Medicare Rx Drug Bill was pushed through.

You got the part about Democrats agonizing correct, though.  I wish they would stop screwing around and listen to people like Howard Dean and Al Gore.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.

by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Tue Dec 13th, 2005 at 03:00:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You're totally right about the Republicans' legislative doublespeak, of course.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Dec 13th, 2005 at 03:02:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
As Brad DeLong put it in a recent blog title: "I'll Stop Calling This Crew 'Orwellian' When They Stop Using 1984 As An Operations Manual."

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.
by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Tue Dec 13th, 2005 at 03:16:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Nice job Jerome, really nice!  Incredible charts and graphs.  Here are a couple of questions on points 1 and 2.  I would like to see if this is the kind of questions and input you are looking for before going further.
I.The Automotive Mileage and Pollution Credit Act
1.    will this rebate apply to only hybrids, or also to regular gasoline cars that just get improved mileage over the 22 mpg?
2.    Do these cars cost more money than the regular gasoline burning cards?  If so how much, and how will that compare to the rebate?
3.    Does Detroit think 2 years is enough to become competitive in this segment?
4.  What are the assumptions in terms of the conversion to the new hybred cars?  What % each year?

II.Government Fleet Conversion Act
1.    Same question on cost of the cars as  number 2 above.

Perhaps you guys have already done this, but it would be good if each program laid out the investment costs, the running costs, and the costs/savings per year over a relevant timeframe--broken down by the various constituents--the motorist, the federal government, the state government,,,,,so we can see who spends and what savings they incur.

Thanks

by wchurchill on Tue Dec 13th, 2005 at 08:56:01 PM EST
  1. At this point the rebate applies to all technologies, it is entirely mileage dependent.  Some details have not been worked out, like how to handle E-85 or biodiesel, plug in electrics, etc.  But if you have a straight gas car that gets 50 mpg more power to you.  And more $.  The point is to reward efficiency, not pick a technology.

  2. The fancy hybrids and diesels will cost more, the rebate along with fuel savings should cover the difference.  That being said, the best option would probably be to buy a small gas powered car.  Thus we have skewed the benfit somewhat to the lower end buyers.  In my mind a good thing as it will accelerate the replacement of less efficient older vehicles (we hope)..

  3. In converstaions with marketing and product planning types the short answer is "yes".  The idea is a stable program everybody can plan on remaining in place.  Especially rebates plus a progressive gas tax.

  4. In the modeling I wasn't specific on the hybrids. But if you want to see the model quantities go here

II.
1.  Fleet sales are difficult to price but over the life of the vehicle it should be about a break even.  But we are working on putting these numbers together.

Cost breakdowns are in progress, the next release will have "White Papers" or detailed breakdowns for each of the programs liked into the main posts.  Way too much detail for the blog.

by btower on Wed Dec 14th, 2005 at 08:51:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Thank you for your response.  All of your comments were IMO excellent.  I particularly like the "skewing of the benefit to lower end buyers" effect of the proposal--I had missed that impact on first reading.

My intention was to respond to Jerome's note, which I thought asked us to help you vet your work.  But I now have a sense that is not needed, and questions may be a little more of a pain at this point than helpful.  My sense is to wait for the White Papers and cost breakdowns, and then at that point if your looking for "helpful" vetting, it might be a little more useful.

Thanks for all of your obviously hard work and creativity on this, and I look forward to seeing the next round.

by wchurchill on Thu Dec 15th, 2005 at 10:57:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
your rationale for only aiming to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 20% by 2020? I know you all as posters well enough to think that surely, you know this is so radically modest as a target as to be inconsequential.

Are you worried about the selling of anything higher and felt this target was realpolitik? Are you genuinely convinced this is enough?

I left a comment at Kos to the effect that this was far too low. I linked to one of the best books that just about anyone can understand on why it is far too low, and some of the how a necessary 70% reduction should be the target now.

The book is The Weather Makers: the History and Future Impact of Climate Change By Tim Flannery.

Frankly it's hard not to despair when serious progressives like yourselves are suggesting such an ineffectually low greenhouse gas reduction target for the biggest C02 producer.

Please (and I mean that nicely, not accusatorily) explain?

"This can't possibly get more disturbing!" - Willow

by myriad (imogenk at wildmail dot com) on Wed Dec 14th, 2005 at 06:53:46 PM EST
A 20% reduction in GH gases over today's levels translates into a 35% reduction in projected levels for 2020.  The consensus of the group was that this target was achievable and more importantly politically possible.  
by btower on Wed Dec 14th, 2005 at 09:12:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
ok. But what if the IPCC and just about every other scientist of credibility in this field is right, and what we really need is a reduction of somewhere between 60-90%, preferably now?

I understand political pragmatism, I really do. I also understand ecosystem collapse. We'll hang on no doubt, but the world we leave our kids will be a despicable shame. So I get to a point where I think the politics has to be brave and bold. Your target isn't, but much of your text and certainly the framing is.

It simply seems ultimately futile to aim for a target that may well be politically acceptable, but actually achieves very little towards - dare I say it -saving the world as we know it. It might be a really nice tune you intend to play and all, but it still amounts to fiddling while Rome burns.

I think you asked me "how" to do around 70% on Kos - I dashed off an answer. My more considered response would be:  there are a lot of researchers and thinkers out there who think it's feasible, and are more qualified than I to assist you in looking at this. I hope you seek them out. I would suggest contacts the site www.worldchanging.com , who frequently cover climate change and alternative energy / transport systems etc., and ask them for some contacts.

"This can't possibly get more disturbing!" - Willow

by myriad (imogenk at wildmail dot com) on Wed Dec 14th, 2005 at 09:25:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
There exists a bit of debate among EA2020 authors / within the group on target levels.

While every one of us would like to see much greater change, there is a desire to put together a SMART package that will create a changed course for the future for the American ship of state ... EA2020 -- if adopted -- would create a momentum for a different future than that pursued by the current malAdministration.  And, if headed down a 20/20/20 target path, this creates the space and momentum for achieving far more than this in terms of reducing oil use, renewable energy production, and reducing carbon (and other) emissions.  And, if it is 20/20/20 by 2020, then is it 40/40/40 by 2030?  Or, even better ...

by BesiegedByBush (BesiegedByBushATyahooDOTcom) on Tue Dec 27th, 2005 at 08:39:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
One important aspect of it will be to not replace the current maladministration with another maladministration. John "clean coal" Kerry, for example, still doesn't get it...
by asdf on Tue Dec 27th, 2005 at 06:43:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
the only comment about facts ! Well done, myriad.

When through hell, just keep going. W. Churchill
by Agnes a Paris on Sun Dec 18th, 2005 at 12:50:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Frankly, I think this is all too complicated. Why not just develop an energy tax, and use it to cover the social cost of pollution and possible sudden oil shortages?

Anyway, I already have a hybrid car that's rated at 66 MPG (and gets over 70 in routine use), so I should get $8800 according to the formula. And that's not the technological limit; there are several available low-cost improvements that deliver further significant improvements in efficiency, and additional work to improve the system is still under way.

But this proposal limits the economy rebate to a level that is already very easy to reach at low cost and low complexity. (E.g. Honda Civic Hybrid at 50 MPG.) Why is the Blueprint not arranged to encourage people to develop even better technology?

by asdf on Wed Dec 14th, 2005 at 10:21:17 PM EST
Because the proposal is intended to modify behaviours rather than incentivise better technologies. As you say, its easy to get a vehicle which does twice the mpg of the current US fleet average. The problem is that such vehicles are not being bought and the US average mpg remains stupidly low. So the rebate proposal waves a fat up-front discount on the ticket price (since most don't seem to pay much attention to running costs) and then leaves buyers and sellers to get on with things.

I also think you're underestimating the ratchet effect of 'mpg minus fleet average mpg' in the proposal. A big rebate is only achievable out of the blocks with existing technologies because the US auto fleet has such terrible efficiency numbers. After ten years of such rebate incentives (especially if the low hanging fruit is so easy to get) I would expect the mpg numbers for the US fleet will have increased significantly and, more importantly, the market will have restructured itself (at least in part) to prioritise chasing the efficiency rebates. That's where the incentive for future development starts to kick in and drive the breakthroughs.

Regards
Luke

-- #include witty_sig.h

by silburnl on Mon Dec 19th, 2005 at 08:46:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Congratulations on a bold concept that aims at nothing less than reshaping (or "reengineering" in corp PR-speak) American society.

I am mildly surprised that none of the proposed legislative initiatives tackle the issue of housing density, as in many cities (particularly in the West) the low housing density both adds to vehicle miles traveled and makes public transportation a marginal proposition compared to East Coast and European cities.

Admittedly, this would be difficult to implement in federal legislation, but perhaps the energy efficiency and home improvement standards could include a local-density factor?

The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman

by dvx (dvx.clt št gmail dotcom) on Thu Dec 15th, 2005 at 05:53:32 AM EST
As far as housing density, new urbanism, etc.. I'm not opposed to the concepts at all and while we are discussing more focus in these areas, I think as a general feeling, we are avoiding telling people how to live.  Instead we're attempting to create market mechanisms to encourage and reward behaviors, not dictate what the behaviors should be.  

As far a sprawl and low density housing, while admittedly weak in the plan as it exists so far, there are a couple of mechanisms working to enocourage higher density in the plan.  
1 - The gas tax will make the cost of driving more expensive.
2 - The reduction in consumption of transportation fuels (gas and diesel) will significantly reduce existing gas tax revenues, creating a strong disincentive to expansion of transportation systems.  This will hopefully reduce the attractiveness of further sprawl.  

That being said, I think we'll be strengthening the language in future editions.

by btower on Thu Dec 15th, 2005 at 12:32:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
we all put together a blueprint for bringing jerome on DKos next year.

When through hell, just keep going. W. Churchill
by Agnes a Paris on Sun Dec 18th, 2005 at 12:51:49 AM EST
This is EUROtrib. Where's the Energize Europe plan?
by asdf on Sun Dec 18th, 2005 at 09:04:01 AM EST
Jerome mentioned this was initially aimed at DKos. A clue I guess...

When through hell, just keep going. W. Churchill
by Agnes a Paris on Sun Dec 18th, 2005 at 11:37:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm a bit disappointed not to have a more considered response to my query as to why the target for lowering greenhous gases (henceforth GG) is so low.

Thanks for the 4's Jerome, but I crave an answer/discussion far more!

I'd like to suggest that perhaps a concurrent debate that could be had either on this thread or as another ongoing debate is regarding GG emission reduction targets. The more I read the more I am convinced that aiming, for eg, to reduce the USA's GG output by 20% by 2020, thus achieving a 35% reduction overall, is far too low. It's also far to low for the whole western world, I'd point out (assuming we are working from 1990 levels, the usual "benchmark").

I think this is something that desperately needs discussion and broader understanding. More and more scientists are saying that we are heading for ecosystem collapse (and I include humans in that ecosystem), yet here we have some of the brightests lights in progressive blogging aiming far lower than the suggested 70%. Why?

On top of that more and more scientists are saying that our window to act is shrinking and shrinking.

I think we need to debate whether political expediency really makes any sense here - espcially as those writing the policy aren't (as far as I'm aware) on a direct line to any powers that be. So why hold back? I thought the point of the exercise was to write a serious, achievable and meaningful energy policy - how-it-should-be. In that frame I find it even more nonsensical not to target more realistically with regard to GG reduction. Or is it just that it hasn't sunk in yet that when it comes to energy policy, this is the main game, not an important component.

Everything hangs on our ability now to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Everything.

"This can't possibly get more disturbing!" - Willow

by myriad (imogenk at wildmail dot com) on Mon Dec 19th, 2005 at 06:15:50 PM EST
Myriad.

The goal here (by "here", I mean with this project, which is primarily based on dKos) is to - pretty soon - bring this to politicians and get them to commit to it. This has already been shown to a few of them (those that already speak about energy) and has generated quite a bit of interest.

So the objective is explicitly to build something that is politically viable in the USA. Thus the apparent modesty of some objectives.

We are fully aware of the points you are making, but in this case, the better can be the enemy of the good. Let's get energy on the forefront of the political debate, let's start focusing on actually reducing consumption and pollution, and then we can worry about how far we go in that direction. Maybe it will not be enough in view of the urgency, but it still has a better chance of actually getting us anywhere. That's the bet we are explicitly making, anyway.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Tue Dec 20th, 2005 at 07:15:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
And this argument--with which I do not necessarily disagree--is exactly what is so frustrating to radical environmentalists. Firstly, proposing something to happen in 2020 is a convenient political fiction, because the party in power could easily change three or four times before 2020. It is so easy to promise to do something out in the future when you will no longer be around. Kyoto is a good example of this; note that most participating countries aren't on track to meet their old, convenient political promises.

Secondly, if one really believes in global climate change, then the amount of work needed is orders of magnitude greater than is proposed here. Climate models predict that if mankind were to completely halt the generation of CO2 right now, it would take several hundred years before the effect of already-generated CO2 stabilizes--and stabilizes at a significantly different (higher temperature) point. If we actually bought into the "scientific" model, we would be proposing much more drastic action, including immediate CO2 sequestration programs on the scale of our current energy industry. And other extreme stuff.

Fact is, even the Kyoto enthusiasts and greenish Democrats don't really believe that global climate change is an issue that's important enough to actually do anything about. I'll probably get flamed for saying so, but it's all about political posturing.

The current discussion is like arguing about whether to build a one centimeter high dike or a two centimeter high dike around New Orleans, when you know that there are going to be hurricanes six months from now that require five meter dikes to have any chance of making a difference.

by asdf on Tue Dec 20th, 2005 at 11:51:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
it's much appreciated - and sorry for the tardy response.

I do agree with asdf's points; but (as a public servant amongst other things) very much understand political expediency. Knowing that you are explicitly trying to get a foot in the door here is important.

So while this next question may well be a no-brainer, I'm going to ask it anyway:

ok, so you are wooing (presumably) progressive US politicians with this policy, and presenting what to many Americans is a "radical" suite of measures to address GG emissions - yet is one I think we agree is almost certainly nowhere near radical enough.

so my question is, as part of that wooing, how are you framing the GG emission reductions? Are you saying (or intending to say) "this is the max we need to do", or "this is probably the minimum we need to do", or "this is a great start, and more importantly lays an economically viable foundation for the USA to be able to radically and rapidly decrease its GG emissions if needed?"  - etc etc.

My point being: excellent, get a foot in the door, I understand how important that is. Equally important IMO though is going to be ensuring that you frame that crucial part of the policy that so that it is not seen as the be-all and end-all of what the USA needs to do, and hence actually educates and energises ;-) US politicians to know they must do more.

sorry for being so long-winded: first day of holiday break, brain left a while ago I think!

cheers, Imogen


"This can't possibly get more disturbing!" - Willow

by myriad (imogenk at wildmail dot com) on Wed Dec 21st, 2005 at 03:46:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
My view is that the discussion about global climate change should be opened up so that it extends beyond the "SUVs are bad" rhetoric. The problem needs to be framed in conventional economic terms, with consideration for the economic effects of flooding in Singapore and Florida, a new ice age in Northern Europe, the predicted drought conditions in the American midwest and Europe, etc.

By making it into an economic argument you can make more headway with people who measure in purely dollar/euro terms.

by asdf on Wed Dec 21st, 2005 at 10:15:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I agree with the need to open up the debate and frame it in mainstream policy terms. So I'm really interested to see how these sorts of 'grassroots up' initiatives do as they encounter legislators and the whole Bismarkian policy=>law sausage machine.

I'm sympathetic to those who say that these measures are nowhere near enough to get us out of the CC hole that we are digging for ourselves and our children, but I think that throwing around the sort of numbers that I (and Imogen et al) suspect to be necessary will freak out the policy-making horses at a time when I sense that events are building up to a potential tipping point in the US.

A large part of what these sorts of proposals are about IMO is preparing the ground for the measures that will become necessary to  weather a post peak-oil, warming world with something akin to grace - going in too fast and too hard runs a significant risk of killing this sort of 'reduce and decarbonisation' energy agenda for an electoral cycle or two and locking the US into disastrous zero/negative-sum thinking that it will be very hard to break. Its frustrating for sure, but the stakes are enormous - sufficiently so to warrant a conservative strategy at present.

Regards
Luke

-- #include witty_sig.h

by silburnl on Thu Dec 22nd, 2005 at 07:08:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
We are certainly sympathetic to the objectives you are stating, and any smart wording that could be included would be most welcome!

Seriously, this is a collective piece of work, and we welcome all input. If you care enough to provide us with a paragraph or so, or suggested amendments in various places, we'll be happy to take it into account, and very likely included it in if it makes sense!

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Thu Dec 22nd, 2005 at 11:36:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You may be interested in looking at this group which seems to be working along the same lines.
http://www.apolloalliance.org/

It seems to be an alliance of labor unions and social activists with the premise that saving energy can lead to new employment opportunities. It has a lot of big names listed as participants.


Policies not Politics
---- Daily Landscape

by rdf (robert.feinman@gmail.com) on Wed Dec 21st, 2005 at 12:30:26 PM EST
Did anyone catch last night's Newsnight? They devoted practically the entire programme to Peak Oil/Global Warming.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/programmes/newsnight/4550286.stm

I only came into it as they were finishing off the initial 'Peak Oil' segment so didn't really get much of that and the round-table session on Global Warming was rather too rumbunctious to be illuminating - sadly the dickhead economist on the panel was able to drop a couple of scientifically illiterate provocations into his initial h-to-h with Paxman that riled up the only (I think) actual scientist on the panel so that he spent most of his time responding to the canards rather than moving things forward (although he made a couple of good solid points once things calmed down a bit). I imagine the producers thought it was good telly though (and the dickhead economist accomplished his FUD-sowing mission I suspect).

All that aside I was encouraged that the BBC's flagship current affairs programme felt the issue was sufficiently important to warrant a 'special' - its a sign that the whole messy bundle of issues that comprise energy policy are moving up the news agenda I think.

Regards
Luke

-- #include witty_sig.h

by silburnl on Thu Dec 22nd, 2005 at 07:40:10 AM EST
I saw the beginning, but Paul Oremeod's antics persuaded me to go to bed. I agree that the mere fact of the programme exemplifies a certain level of progress.
by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Thu Dec 22nd, 2005 at 01:44:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Ormerod
by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Thu Dec 22nd, 2005 at 01:45:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
We have a large-scale, mature, tested technology for reducing greenhouse emissions that is complementary to the renewables goals of Energize America.

from Grist, an environmental webzine:

http://www.alternet.org/story/29591/

http://www.iht.com/articles/2005/12/12/business/nuke.php

Perhaps the following would be useful for Energize America for Dummies--since few people seem to understand some important fundamental principles about energy.

It is written by a self-proclaimed Green.

http://www.ecolo.org/base/baseen.htm

by Plan9 on Sat Dec 24th, 2005 at 12:16:31 PM EST


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