Tag Archives: energy policy

POTUS Speak Up

Five Things to Say about Clean Energy in Your Address

It is that time of year again.  This Wednesday, January 27, 2010, the President will glide down the aisle in the House of Representatives, greeted by thunderous applause, and encounter the usually more dignified elected officials in a slightly teen-bopper, Beatles-esque-frenzy, practically climbing over each other to shake his hand.  

He will ascend the rostrum in front of federal government and the nation and proceed to tell us how our country is doing. Within the first five minutes of the speech, President Obama will say the health of our nation is strong – because what else can a President say?  The State of the Union address is largely an exercise in tradition.  So, why then does it matter what he says?

It matters because behind all the ritual rhetoric lies a pretty good indicator of what the president will focus on in the coming months.

Which is also exactly why so many political pundits have been theorizing about the President’s speech for weeks now.  Speculation has reached a fever-pitch with the stunning yet not surprising election of Senator-elect Scott Brown (R-MA) and the equally shocking Supreme Court decision last week, which some have argued, gave corporations the right to basically buy Congressional seats. Every public interest group in Washington is hoping – praying really – that their issue will rise to the level of a “shout out” from the President.  We all desperately want the President to acknowledge (via his SOTU speech) that what we each work on is a top priority.  

You can be certain that is what the community working for clean energy and climate solutions is hoping for – a shout out.  

There have been many predictions in recent days about the death of a climate bill.  Those predictions could be turned on their heads and dispelled with just a few sentences on Wednesday.  In my ideal world, this is what President Obama would say:

1. “Investing in clean energy and climate solutions will generate jobs for Americans.”

President Obama has already hinted he will talk about job creation in his address. That’s no surprise: it is the most urgent priority for American families right now.

One of the best ways to get Americans back to work is to give them the job of building a clean energy economy and rebuilding American infrastructure. As soon as we set limits on global warming pollution, we will unleash billions of dollars in private investment for low-carbon solutions like energy efficient windows and batteries for hybrid cars.

That investment will create jobs–nearly 2 million, according to economists at the University of California.

2. “We are losing jobs to our overseas competitors everyday.”

We are getting the pants beat off us by our international competitors.  According to the Green, Inc. blog over at the NY Times, “At the beginning of 2009, Chinese solar companies supplied 21 percent of the market; by year’s end their stake had more than doubled.” They are winning in the pricing game: “A Chinese module maker with little name recognition in the United States, Yingli, has captured 27 percent of the California market thanks to low pricing, the report said. Suntech, China’s leading module-maker, has a 10 percent share in California.”  We need to get ourselves in gear if we are going to compete.  

3. “Our dependence on foreign oil is unpatriotic.”

I am a mom with an SUV (granted a Honda CRV, but nonetheless, a SUV.) I love my SUV – I can shove kids, tricycles, backpacks, extra clothes, groceries, and even a box for Goodwill in the back and still have room for a family dog.  But I can’t pretend that my choice has no repercussions to our national security.

Every time I fill up, I am lining the pockets of those who hate America.  Almost all of us “soccer moms and dads” in our SUVs are in the same boat.  We need to drive something functional that doesn’t feed terrorism.  I don’t think that means that we need to buy tinier cars (although that may be part of the solution) – I think it means that we must make more efficient, cleaner cars. And the best way to do that is to give Detroit and other automakers the incentives they need to get the job done.

4. “An energy bill alone is not enough.”

This weekend the NYTimes notes in an editorial about climate, “The jobs argument should impress the Senate. Yet many Democrats as well as Republicans seem willing to settle for what would be the third energy bill in five years – loans for nuclear power, mandates for renewable energy, new standards for energy efficiency. These are all useful steps. But the only sure way to unlock the investments required to transform the way the country produces and delivers energy is to put a price on carbon.”

We keep writing checks for clean energy investments but we aren’t getting the most bang for our buck.  If we don’t place a price on pollution, we will only see some of the benefit.  In order to get the most for our money, we need to let the market work – and that means making those who pollute pay for their fair share

5. “Addressing climate change must be more than just a sound bite – it must be a process by which we will commit to get a bill passed this spring.”

Luntz also found that the public overwhelming believes that climate change is occurring – even 66% of Republicans think that global warming is likely happening – so now it is time to stop fighting about it and do something.

If you look on most Senate websites, you will find a statement about how climate change exists and we should do something about it.  We need to turn that lip service into action.  

Is the President likely to say all of this?  Maybe not.  But if he even gets half way there, I think we will be able to repeat that great Twain quote when it comes to a climate change bill: “Rumors of my demise have been greatly exaggerated.”  

The Bush Energy Policy at Work in Southern California

(Who gets the money? Corporations. Who doesn’t see a benefit? Consumers. Welcome to San Diego. – promoted by Lucas O’Connor)

In October of 2004, British Petroleum – Indonesia contracted with Sempra Energy for delivery of liquid natural gas to the western hemisphere. Consequently, Sempra and BP cuts deals with the Mexican government to build a LNG port and storage facility in Ensenada, Mexico on the western coast of Baja California.

Sempra will build a large scale pipeline from their storage facility that will hook up with the existing pipelines in Mexico. The pipelines will ship LPG to Mexicali, where they are constructing a large electric power generation plant. They’ll send the electric power across the border on high power transmission lines which they plan to build across Imperial and San Diego counties.

The California phase of the project is called the Sunrise Powerlink. Sempra’s Sunrise Powerlink is a 150-mile, 500 kilovolt, $1.4 billion transmission line that will cut across the California desert, through Anza Borrego State Park, over the mountains, and through numerous North County rural and suburban communities.

more more more…

There are many who are opposed to the Sunrise Powerlink because of the reasons mentioned above. There are also concerns about environmental destruction, the defacement of state park land, and fire hazard in San Diego’s arid back country. Many people question the need for this line at all, and believe that sufficient power can be generated within the county to meet San Diego’s electricity needs. They see the SPL plan as nothing but a moneymaker for Sempra and San Diego Gas and Electric.

One of the primary benefits originally touted by Sempra was the savings for consumers. However they have repeatedly been forced to slash their estimates of economic benefit. The $447 million in annual consumer savings was first cut to $204 million, and now more recently to $129 million.

The California Public Utilities Commission recently held hearings and extended the EIR process into next year. Sempra was hoping to be well into this project in 2008, but there’s now a significant delay, mostly due to their own inaccuracies and errors, and questions about the environmental impact of the massive project.

BUT,  as it should be expected by now, the federal government rides to the rescue of the energy industry. The Energy Policy Act of 2005 legislated that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has a right to declare Energy Corridors of National Interest, and now much of Southern California, and parts of Arizona and Nevada are under consideration to be designated as such. What this means is the US Department of Energy can step in and over-ride the states interest and jurisdiction over energy policy if they claim that it is in the national interest to do so. The law allows them to grant permits to Sempra and other local energy companies to allow them to use eminent domain to lay claim to land to be used for the construction of the Sunrise Powerlink, including state land in the Anza Borrego State Park.

The Department of Energy wants to designate 11 counties in Southern California, western Arizona and southern Nevada as one of two “national interest electric transmission corridors.” The other corridor unveiled yesterday would cover a wide portion of the Mid-Atlantic region, stretching from Maryland to New York and as far west as Ohio.

The two corridors, the first selected after months of study and comment, mark a major policy shift in which decisions on critical power lines could be approved by federal regulators over the objections of state officials.

“The parochial interests that shaped energy policy in the 20th century will no longer work,” Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman said yesterday.

People rightly worry about about the federal government allowing a Bush administration favored corporation like Sempra to claim private property, and state owned park land through eminent domain. What a sweet deal for them though! They must be as happy as pigs at the trough. Once again, California gets screwed while the energy industry gets a big, wet kiss. Between this project and the energy industry’s manufactured “California energy crisis”, I’m sensing a trend.

There are a multitude of reasons why a close eye should be kept on this entire project, from the port to the pipeline to the powerlink. The need for this powerlink is questionable. The environmental and aesthetic impacts of this project will be significant, especially in light of circumstances surrounding the building of energy related infrastructure south of the border where environmental, health, employment and safety standards are less stringent than in the United States. And last but not least, the relationship between the energy companies and the federal government is a wee bit too cozy. The Sunrise Powerlink and it’s related projects deserve the public scrutiny they’re receiving, and much, much more.

Science Cafe Energy Policy Forum TODAY!

Got questions about climate change, energy policy, peak oil, and the science of fueling our lives? Well, then you should really come on over to the cafe and get yourself some answers!

Join us and our panel as we look at the status of energy today and the policy and scientific solutions. Are you worried about peak oil? Feel a squeeze from high gas prices? Come to the Science Cafe Energy Forum and participate in a panel discussion on energy and the issues we face today.

– U.S. Rep. John Campbell (R-Newport Beach)
– Dr. Mark Musculus, Sandia National Laboratories California
– Mr. Jim Maclay, Doctoral Candidate (LEED Certified), UC Irvine National Fuel Cell Research Center

Mr. Pat Brennan, Environment Editor, The Orange County Register

Follow me after the flip for all the details about today’s event…

OK, the details as promised:

Program (Begins at 3:00 PM):
1) 5 minutes: intro by Brian Hart, Astrophysicist, who is director
and host
2) 10 minutes: Video clip from
NOVA scienceNOW.

3) 20 minutes: Presentation by U.S. Representative, John Campbell
(R-Newport Beach) on Energy Policy

4) 20 minutes: Presentation by Dr.
Mark Musculus, Combustion Research
Facility, Sandia National
Laboratories California

5) 20 minutes: Presentation by
Mr. Jim Maclay, Doctoral Candidate
(LEED Certified), from UC Irvine
National Fuel Cell Research Center
on Fuel Cells and UC Irvine research
into this promising new technology

6) 30 minutes: Question and Answer
session and discussion with

7) 10 minutes: Each panelist will
have an opportunity to close by
inviting the audience to learn
more about their affiliated

8) 2 minutes: Closing by Drew
Adams, Barnes & Noble Community
Relations Manager

The program is FREE and open to
the public. You’re invited to just
show up. Parents, bring college
kids you know who may want an
internship! College students, come
for the same purpose! High school
kids are also welcome. SIGN UP
requested, so we can best plan space.

RSVP limit:
Only 150 members (including guests) can RSVP ‘Yes’ or ‘Maybe’ for this event.
Please go to the Meetup page to sign up.

Barnes & Noble – Fashion Island
401 Newport Center Drive Suite A215
Newport Beach , CA 92660
(949) 718-0109

Hope to see you there! : )