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Friday, December 30, 2005


A Positive Message that Would Fix Many Ills

In the last few days this community has commented on energy independence and keeping the Democratic message positive. Why not a positive drive to make us energy independent? At least half of all our ills stem from our thirst for Arab oil. This isn't a novel idea, the Apollo Alliance has been all over this project.

From The Nation's January 2, 2006 issue . . .

The Apollo Alliance offers one positive model for reshaping the future. It started from the premise that American politics will not undertake a serious agenda on global warming and alternative energy sources until labor groups and environmentalists come together on the objective. "When Apollo started, political progress on energy was mired in the jobs-versus-environment debate," says Jeff Rickert, Apollo's acting executive director. "In order to break that deadlock, we proposed a new way of thinking--a plan that removed the wedge between environmentalists and labor unions by focusing on the job-creating aspect of a clean-energy investment policy."

Packaged and tested with rigorous economic analysis, the Apollo proposal calls for a ten-year, $300 billion investment agenda--federal financing to foster development of alternative fuels, innovative eco firms and energy-conserving reforms in housing, green building codes, transportation and other realms. These investments, analysts estimate, would generate 3.3 million new jobs. One strategist noted a resemblance to John F. Kennedy's moon-landing initiative in the 1960's--an endeavor that also created high-wage skilled jobs and new tech sectors. Overcoming the ecological threat could become this generation's Apollo project. Hence the name.

So let's see . . .

Sounds like a good plank for the Democratic Platform. Energy Independence by 2015!

What do you think?

OK, I'm all for it, and I have been thinking the same thing for years. But how would Democrats counter the likely GOP/big-oil argument that funding specific research would be "picking winners" and centralized planning? And honestly, there would be a grain of truth in that GOP argument.

The main thing is to avoid the stereotyped liberal approach that emphasizes energy conservation (although there should be some of that). Let's not be telling people to turn down their thermostats and drive tiny unsafe cars.

When Republicans say "energy policy" they mean ANWR and tax breaks for oil companies. But I'm thinking more along the lines of:

1. A nationally declared goal of energy independence, or at least much lower imports by a date certain. With annual Presidential certification of progress toward goal.

2. Massive gov't funding for research into a broad basket of alternative energy technologies. Direct funding, or tax breaks, whatever.

3. Immediate implementation of current alternate energy technology, wherever it makes sense.

4. Bring back some modest and sensible CAFE standards, with no SUV exemption this time.

5. Mandated energy effiency of new homes (similar to CAFE). There are lots of unobtrusive low-cost technologies that could easily be added to new construction.
Yeah! This is the kind of thinking we as Democrats need to be doing. And, you are right -- the "frame" we use to present it is critical. Whatever we say the Republicans will attack, but how do you attack new technology that will create 3.3 million on-shore jobs? Are they against jobs?

This is a very complex issue and I can't put forth all the bits and pieces here. But as you say we need a national goal by date certain. Some Democrat has to have the cojones to stand up and say that. I think the voting public would buy in.
And unfortunately such an undertaking could only be done by Dem centrists working together and compromising with business interests a la Bill Clinton. Environmental concerns would have to be minimized and played very low-key. So the Green Party is welcome on this issue, but if they want to be further left, the train will have to leave without them.

Wa'd also have to find a credible messenger - a candidate whose vision of a national technical project would be accepted enthusiastically and not mocked. And after it's built, he'll have to make sure he doesn't claim he invented it. :-)

(actually Al Gore never claimed he invented the Internet, but it's a great running gag).
It's important to fund a basket of technologies. You never know which ones will catch on or how they will be used.

For example, if Congress had said "We want to fund research into a data network that will allow Americans to look at pornography and go shopping 24 hours a day," the Internet would never have been built.
hmmmm.... I wonder if the military would grow weary of being shipped out to the Middle East and would start to ask for funding, under the military budget, for research toward energy independence.

Yeah, that's the way to go... Money for energy independence is DEFENSE SPENDING!! Support our troops!
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All the best, Alternate Energy Sources
Hi There! Really cool site . Ok so I'm always searching for this kind of stuff.
I have this fascination thing. Keep up the good work!
All Blessings,Solar Power Energy
Hi There! Really cool site . Ok so I'm always searching for this kind of stuff.
I have this fascination thing. Keep up the good work!
All Blessings,Alternate Energy Sources
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