Environmental connections to public health >>
Let’s Fix America’s Broken and Unfair Energy System
Alarmed by current U.S. energy policy, 60 Americans from all over the country came together in 2012 and earlier this year in Cambridge, Mass., to explore alternatives to the dangerous and misleading course taken by the industry and the nation’s political leaders. In several days of intense discussion, they came up with the “American Clean Energy Agenda,” nine principles to put us on a course toward truly a renewable, non-polluting energy future. In this, the fifth of a series, we focus on Principle 5: “We urge local, state and federal authorities to ensure a level playing field for renewable energy and efficiency. It is essential to take fully into account the long-term risks and costs to health, environment and communities of all energy resources and to adopt policies based on least cost to consumers and minimal risk. We urge specific policies that will ensure this full reckoning as well as strong energy efficiency standards that minimize the demand for resources and provide good jobs and clear benefits to consumers.”
America’s energy system is broken and unfair. It burdens Americans in low income areas with poisoned water and devastated landscapes from mountaintop coal removal, natural gas “fracking” and other wasteful and dangerous practices. It favors dirty energy sources – oil, coal and natural gas – and dangerous ones such as nuclear power.
The current system favors only what carries the lowest dollar cost or the greatest short-term profit to develop and sell, ignoring the follow-on health and cleanup costs of dirty energy. Taking these costs into account drastically changes the cost equation and makes renewable energy sources more than competitive with fossil fuels and nuclear. Government must also level the playing field with its subsidies. The relatively immature wind industry shouldn’t be held hostage to the looming expiration of its production tax credit every three years while the mature natural gas, coal, oil and nuclear industries enjoy permanent taxpayer largesse and guaranteed profit margins.
This system needs to change, and we’re committed to making that happen.
When utility rate setting takes into consideration the long-term risks and costs, renewable energy comes out the winner. We’re still being told that phasing out coal, natural gas and nuclear would be too expensive or impractical, but this is not true. We already have the technological means to make significant strides in this direction, and future advances will likely enable us to finish the job within the next two decades. Numerous studies have laid out the details of how to transition to a safe, renewable energy economy.
A crucial component of a sustainable energy future, of course, must be greater efficiency standards to help reduce demand and ease the transition to renewable sources.
We owe it to ourselves and our children to live free of fears of nuclear meltdowns, poisoned water and pipeline spills. And we won’t allow our environment to be trashed just to give energy industry CEOs an extra profit margin in their next quarterly earnings report.
By working together, we can create the grassroots pressure needed to educate our neighbors and sway local, state and national legislators and regulators. It’s time to take a stand. Join the movement, and help us build a safe, clean energy future.