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John Kerry's Energy Plan
Alex Steffen, 2 Aug 04

Once again, we're not partisan here, but clearly some worldchanging can only happen through government action.

Take energy. The rules and standards the American government sets for energy use, the energy sources it subsidizes and taxes and the solutions behind which America's political leaders throw their support have enormous planetary implications. The winner of the next presidential election will exercise profound influence on our ability to check global warming and pollution and our chances of building a bright green future.

We know what the current administration thinks we should do. What about the dems? BusinessWeek has a pretty interesting if skeptical brief overview of Kerry's proposed energy plan:

"John Kerry's blueprint for energy independence doesn't suffer from lack of ambition. In early August, he'll unveil an energy plan that he says can break America's addiction to foreign oil, revitalize the U.S. auto industry, help farmers and coal miners, fight global warming, and create jobs -- all for just $2 billion per year. "We can live in an America that is energy independent," Kerry promises....

"Yet strip out the over-the-top rhetoric, and Kerry's emerging plan is both a good starting point and a welcome contrast to the Bush Administration's focus on drilling for more oil. Kerry sets the right goals: significantly increase energy efficiency and use of alternative fuels. And he uses tax incentives, rather than relying solely on regulations, to help meet those goals."

To get more details, hit Kerry's site itself. There's a lot in here from the WorldChanging wishlist: better technology, more innovation, more renewables and efficiency. The Devil's always in the details, and if Kerry's elected, we'll see how much courage the new administration has when Congress gets their grimy hands on it, but beats the heck out of the last attempt to pass a national energy plan.

On an interesting side-note, I've been hearing a lot of folks talk about how the greenwashing which accompanied that disasterous attempt last year (talking about renewables, for instance, while putting the majority of the subsidy dollars behind coal, oil and nuclear) may actually have helped, as many folks from both sides of the aisle have embraced the idea of green energy and new technologies.

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I've watched this issue for 30 years, since the first oil shock. Every poll I've seen in those 30 years has shown about 70% of the public wants more renewables and efficiency/conservation funding over and above what's given to coal, oil, natural gas, and nuclear.

Ain't ever happened yet and won't happen unless the majority, that 70%, is mobilized to make it happen over and heads of the Congress.

Kerry may have his heart in the right place. Teresa Heinz certainly does. She knows these issues backwards and forwards. However, he can't do it alone.

And remember, Carter's last plan called for 20% renewables by 2000 while one of the first things Reagan did when he came into office was tear the solar collectors off the White House and shut down the Solar Energy Research Institute in Golden CO in such a peremptory manner that some scientists reported they felt like they were being told to find another line of research posthaste.

Don't mean to be a downer but them's the facts, folks, and it's better to deal with reality than try to live a fantasy.

Posted by: gmoke on 2 Aug 04

Kerry's policy about oil includes extraction from the National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska. I don't think this would be an ecological oriented decision...

Posted by: Marco on 3 Aug 04

The issue on oil drilling some dont see is a company cant spend 5 million to drill and set up to pump out 10 million in oil unless they are sure it actauly is gona stay 10 million in oil. Its a nasty catch 22. If they boost production by drilling marginal zones they lower oil prices to below the point those marginal zones can be used which shuts them down before they become profitable.

Soo instead of reacting to the rise in oil prices by tapping marginal zones that havnt been tapped they do 2 things.

They tap zones they can tap cheaply aka ones that were already tapped and have the equipment there and ready.

And they look or try to look for new zones that are cheap to tap and run aka they look to the arctic as well as various offshore sites to see if they can find a usable supply they can not only tap and profit off of at 40 a barrel but also at 25 a barrel when after they tap it the price drops down.

Thats also the catch 22 with biodeasel. On a small scale it makes perfect sense but say you make enough to effect commodity prices... how much can you make and keep prices high enough to not only pay for the extra cost involved in MAKING biodeasel but also in building the plant to mkae it and so on and so forth? At what point can exxon profit from going into bio deasel and where can they find the land and people to do so AND can they even be sure of doing all that wouldnt drop fuel prices to the point they would have to fire everyone and close the operation down?

Its a crazy ass world.

Posted by: wintermane on 3 Aug 04

Check out for taking the talk the next step(s). View more at

Posted by: AriW on 4 Aug 04



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