KyotoUSA Communiqué: Energy and Power Politics, May 2010. GreenNews from Networks
KyotoUSA Communiqué: Energy and Power Politics, May 2010. GreenNews from Networks

The US has been struggling to come up with effective federal legislation that begins to reduce our production of greenhouse gases. Many of our federal representatives appear to understand the gravity of the situation, yet feel they must satisfy the self interested who apparently do not share that concern. The most recent manifestation of our legislators' inability to propose a tough and effective law is embodied in the Kerry - Lieberman "American Power Act." I encourage you to:

1) Resist the urge to support the Kerry-Lieberman (K-L) "American Power Act" no matter what the Big Green environmental groups urge you to do. The bill was stitched together in Washington's smoke filled back rooms by fossil fuel interests (including the off-shore drillers), utility flacks, and nuclear power proponents. Unfortunately, much of the environmental movement found itself co-opted early on in the process when it looked as if we might get a bill that really would address climate change. Once they committed, they never really found a way to extract themselves from the weakened bill that was eventually released last week.

If you want to get some depth on the issue, check out the analysis at the Carbon Tax Center. A much better shot at tackling climate change is embodied in The CLEAR Act - a bill that returns a portion of carbon costs to the American public. While the CLEAR Act is imperfect, it's imperfections can be cured, unlike the American Power Act which loses much of its Senate support once subsidies for coal, nuclear, and offshore drilling are stripped out. The American Power Act could be disastrous for states like California that have already made significant strides toward reducing carbon emissions - by pre-empting a state's ability to set standards for the reduction of its own carbon emissions. The EPA's ability to regulate CO2 emissions could also be stymied by K-L.

We must do a lot better.

The good news is that US greenhouse gas emissions fell by about 7% in 2009 - only a third of which can be attributed to the recession. The other 2/3rd is the result of better efficiencies and a switch from coal to natural gas used in the production of electricity. If you like details, you can see them in all their glory at the US Energy Information website . This decline is significant and is occurring without major federal legislation. In fact, this trend is projected to continue and means that whatever federal legislation is finally approved should take into consideration this remarkable decline in emissions.

2) Get out and vote on June 8th! - we have several important June ballot measures in California that will have a major impact on our ability to move quickly toward a clean energy future.

Vote NO on Proposition 16. PG&E is trying to prevent municipal governments from enacting Community Choice Aggregation programs (CCA). CCA would hasten the use of renewable energy used to provide local electricity at a cost equal to or below PG&E's electricity pricing. The proposition - if passed - would require jurisdictions that want to implement CCA to 1) put the issue to the voters, and 2) achieve a 2/3rd majority. PG&E is spending $32M to fund this callous and deceptive campaign which would be a huge setback in our efforts to move toward a clean energy future. Marin County has just launched its very own CCA called Marin Clean Energy. If Prop 16 passes it's likely that MCE will be the first and last CCA established in California. Vote NO on Prop 16.

Vote YES on Proposition 15 so that we can move toward publicly funded elections. This is our chance to make it possible for qualified people to run for elected office without having to rely on big $$ interests to finance their campaigns. We've seen what kind of government we get when self-serving special interests put their needs before those of the people. If Prop 15 passes it will set up a pilot program where qualifying candidates for the office of Secretary of State could choose to receive public funds to pay for their campaign costs. It's an important step toward re-democratizing our political system.

See the Ella Baker Center's June 2010 Voter Guide for recommendations and evaluations on the other Propositions. And you've got until May 24th to register to vote. Get details here.

3) Program Manager for SmartSolar program at the Community Energy Services Corporation located in Berkeley. The position is not listed on the website, so if you're interested in learning more about it, go to our website and click on "documents".

Community Energy Services (CESC) needs someone to manage a solar and energy efficiency consumer education and advising service that is part of the US Department of Energy's DOE's Solar America Initiative. The program, called "SmartSolar" is designed to accelerate the adoption of solar technology by providing independent, sound advice to prospective solar consumers in local communities. SmartSolar conducts site audits at clients' residential and commercial properties and analyzes the costs and benefits of various solar and energy efficiency installations. SmartSolar also advises its clients about financing options, rebates and tax incentives, local ordinances and technology options.

More good news - we're hearing that John Swett Unified and West Contra Costa Unified will be the beneficiaries of Bay Area Air Quality Management District grants for energy efficiencies and solar projects. KyotoUSA worked closely with the districts and SunPower Corp. to put the applications together.

Connections -

Tom Kelly
Kyotousa at sbcglobal dot net
Sequoia Foundation/KyotoUSA
Berkeley, CA