REDEFINING PROGRESS: A BETTER PLAN FOR ENERGY

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If you’re interested in details of this report. they’re here. The report shows the quantifiable benefits of the plan, but doesn’t detail the plan itself. If you want to see the plan, an “earlier” version of it, produced by EPINet, is here — read specifically Section 2 and Appendix B. It makes sense to me but I don’t know enough about the energy industry to critique it intelligently. If any readers are up to the job I’d be pleased to publish their analysis. The plan includes:

  1. expanded voluntary agreements and programs with the private sector (e.g. EnergyStar efficiency ratings)
  2. expanded energy audit and energy efficiency information programs
  3. raised efficiency standards for motors
  4. better Clean Air Act enforcement
  5. extended investment tax credits and grants for clean air and energy-efficiency technology development and use
  6. higher fuel efficiency standards for vehicles, and tax incentives for making and buying exceptionally fuel-efficient vehicles
  7. especially high standards for fuel efficiency of government fleets, and energy efficiency of government buildings
  8. ethanol research
  9. ‘pay-at-the-pump’ auto insurance (basic coverage built into the price of gasoline)
  10. improved air traffic management to reduce circling time
  11. enhanced R&D incentives and government programs focused on fuel and energy efficiency
  12. raised building code standards and enforcement thereof
  13. energy utility surcharges to fund rebates for energy-efficient building construction
  14. financing for home and business building retrifits to improve energy efficiency (repaid from future energy cost savings)
  15. tax incentives for rooftop solar
  16. minimum quotas for percentage of energy from renewable sources
  17. expanded renewable energy tax credits
  18. more wind generation on government lands
  19. expanded “net metering” (the meters of buildings that generate some of their own energy run backwards to credit them for it)
  20. introduce full cost pricing by 2008 (an end to ‘volume discounts’ for heavy users of energy)
  21. more stringent air pollution standards
  22. enhanced recovery of methane from landfills (methane is the main component of natural gas, an excellent energy source)
  23. incentives for improving technologies to prevent and stop pipeline gas leakage
  24. programs to capture methane from coal mining, and from animal manure
  25. better programs for home and commercial recycling of paper, cardboard, aluminum and steel cans, and plastics

Hard to see how anyone can argue with this, but the ‘free marketers’, of course, are: “These programs make us uncompetitive in the international marketplace”, “Taxes impede the ability of corporations to innovate”, “Unrealistic standards lower profit margins and reduce organizations’ ability to raise new capital”, and blah, blah, blah. These plans are anathema to Bush/neocon ideology as well: They believe government should only do things that the private sector can’t do (like launch unjustified, pre-emptive, costly wars, and take away civil liberties).

None of these programs are new, and all of them are being instituted or investigated in many other countries. But the world needs the US, which is responsible for 25% of the world’s GDP, emissions and resource use, to pull its weight and do its share. This plan would be an excellent start. Kyoto by the back door.

While on the subject of the Sierra Club, check out this hilarious parody on their site. Goes to show you can be an environmentalist and still have a sense of humour.

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