Introduction: Congressman Mike Simpson (R- Id) and Jerry Lewis (R-CA) sent a letter to President Obama to investigate the impact of the "climategate studies." Congressman Simpson asserts
"It is apparent that the EPA's recent actions, as well as cap-and-trade legislation approved by the narrowest of margins in the House, may have been based upon false pretenses."
Congressman Simpson and Lewis strongly urge President Obama
"in the strongest possible terms to re-direct funds necessary, using a portion of enacted fiscal year 2010 climate change funding, to determine the full extent to which illegitimate scientific evidence and research has been used to support recent legislative and regulatory actions (including the recently passed cap-and-trade legislation in the House and this week's EPA endangerment finding)." (Simpson, 2010)
This article is redraft from my response to Congressman Simpson.
Vision, Opportunity and Action - or - Analysis Paralysis.
What possible benefit is gained by re-directing funds enacted in fiscal year 2010 climate change funding to validate or debunk the climate studies? Challenge the scientific community and the peer-review process to validate or debunk the findings. Change the polarized Cap and Trade political rhetoric arguing the impact on business and jobs to an Energy Policy highlighting business and job opportunities during the transition from legacy to energy independence and clean-energy. Optimism stirs creativity and entrepreneurial enterprise more than cynical pessimism.
The Issue is the Vision and Sense of Urgency to Transition to Energy Independence and Clean Energy.
The issue is not the validity of climate studies. While there may be debate about the impact to the environment, I can feel the effects of pollution when wild fires rage due to drought conditions in Idaho. I can feel the sting of pollution in Boise when air quality indexes are yellow and red. I witnessed the corrosive effects of Los Angeles smog on metals over 90 miles away, and I experienced the near nauseating effects of smog fishing off the coast of Okinawa when morning winds blow the humidity trapped polluted air from the island. I watched the skies turn yellow in Okinawa and the horizon deep orange in California as the Gobi Desert sands in China lift into the atmosphere and filter the sun in a rich hue from yellow through purple. While the stunning natural views inspire awe, or affect respiratory health, I am reminded our environment is not restricted by local, state or national boundaries. The issue is - we need to establish an energy policy with a sense of urgency to minimize our reliance on foreign oil, old fossil fuel and legacy nuclear technology. We need to establish an energy policy that maximizes independence by modernizing our power grid and responsibly embracing all current energy technologies and resources in the United States by the end of this decade. We need to establish an energy policy with vision to meet America's future energy needs solely with clean energy before 2025 .
Government Regulations and Economic Policy Can Stimulate the Transition to Energy Independence and Clean-Energy. But We Must Make Sure We Do Not Create Loop-Holes that Circumvent Environmental Impact..
Economists have long believed economic principles can protect the environment. (Baumol & Blinder. 1979). Cap-and trade legislation is a means to assign a dollar value on environmental impact; assign goals to reduce environmental impact; and provide a means to trade credits between industries with heavy and light impact on the environment. World renowned Annie Leonard created The Story of Stuff that entertainingly illustrates several "distractions and distortions" about Cap-and Trade. I recommend viewing this Web production at http://www.storyofstuff.com/capandtrade/.
A Call For Vision and More Action.
I want to see Congress and the President develop an Energy Policy with a vision to transition from fossil fuel dependence to fossil fuel independence. I agree with President Obama (2010) in his State of the Union address that the "the nation that leads the clean energy economy will be the nation that leads the global economy. And America must be that nation." That is a vision and call for bi-partisan action that inspires Americans to reach beyond our current technology and development. It is a vision and call that reaches every American business and home. It is a vision that calls for economic, environmental and political forward action, not reverse and brakes.
I subscribe to Boone Pickens plan (http://www.pickensplan.com) to increase natural gas for cross country logistics, and autos. I understand the progressive steps we take toward natural gas, geothermal, solar, wind, nuclear are not destination, but milestones in the journey toward energy independence and clean energy. Even the Idaho National Laboratory's ability to recover energy from spent nuclear material is fascinating. (MacFarlane, 2006) Re-processing spent fuel rods and decreasing half-life radiation waste from 10,000 to 1,000 years is far beyond my life expectancy. The imagination, science, and ingenuity to achieve this 10 fold change may be just another milestone toward further radioactive waste half-life reduction.
We should build new technology nuclear power plants, employ horizontal drilling techniques in the Western Rockies and our Atlantic and Pacific coast, and drill oil on the northern slopes in Alaska. Yet we we must understand that while we responsibly build up existing technologies for energy independence those energy sources and environmental way streams must be contained to prevent environmental impact. At the same time we should be building solar energy and wind farms while we transition from away from fossil fuels, to natural gas, clean coal technologies, hydro-electric, nuclear, then clean energy technologies like wind, geothermal, and solar. From a manufacturing, technical, and business view, I understand the development of clean energy will overlap current technologies - yet I want to move forward and move with a sense of urgency. Fourteen years to develop a new nuclear plant from concept to commissioning includes a nine-year licensing process that is unacceptable. (MacFarlane, 2006) This is change Congress, the EPA, Nuclear Regulatory Agency, the courts and the Office of the President can tackle.
The stimulus to our economy, increased productivity, and potential for life-supporting salaries by committing to leadership for energy independence and clean energy policy is a goal with more direct impact to the United States and the world economy than President Kennedy's vision in 1961 to put a man on the moon and return safely before the end of the decade and Neil Armstrong's first steps on the moon in 1968. With energy we have the means to provide pressurized irrigation with direct spin-offs to facilitate desalinization and growing food in places that are desperately hungry. The jobs employ civil, electrical, mechanical engineers; technology, trades, accountants, financial analyst, information technology, administrative, supply chain, logistics, and sales to name a few. The impact sets the United States as hands-down leaders while providing developing nations basic infrastructure power generating technologies enabling them toward self-sufficiency and economic growth. To paraphrase from President Kennedy...."Now it is time to take longer strides--time for a great new American enterprise--time for this nation to take a clearly leading role in" .... energy independence and clean energy technology.
What I want to see from Congressman, Senators and President Obama is a vision and a sense of urgency to accomplish getting Americans back to work in a sustainable transition from energy dependence to energy independence from reliance on technology impacting the environment to clean energy technologies in less than 25 years.
Stop the Finger-pointing; Create a Vision to Aspire Toward Instead of Building Political Walls Inciting Fear of Business Losses and Job Losses. Cap the messages promoting fear in our labor force, businesses, and legacy energy industries. Trade the combative rhetoric for a concrete Energy Policy that aspires for self-sufficiency and clean energy technology in less than 25 years.
- - Not because Congressman Simpson and Lewis want to have an independent agency verify the possibility of "illegitimate scientific evidence and research...used to support recent legislative and regulatory actions."
- - Not because the Copenhagen Climate Control Conference
- - Not because the Kyoto Protocol
- - Not because Earth Day is April 22
Aspire to a vision where the United States leads the world producing and creating jobs and technology for energy independence and clean energy. Why?
- - Because we should all recognize our lives are enhanced through progress and decreasing our man-made impact on the environment.
Energy independence and clean energy is the vision on the horizon with broad applications to the United States and developing nations. We urgently need enthusiastic, energetic bi-partisan discussion and resolution for energy policy legislation. We need legislation and policies that provide bridges between regulatory agencies and business so the United States can blaze course that leads the world toward a new horizon - a horizon of energy independence and clean energy.
Baumol, W. J. & Blinder, A. S. (1979). Economics Principals and Policy. Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, Inc. NY.
Leonard, A. (2010). The Story of Stuff. Retrieved February 10, 2010 from http://www.storyofstuff.com/capandtrade/.
Kennedy, J. F. (1961). Special Message to Congress on Urgent National Needs. Retrieved February 11, 2010 from http://www.jfklibrary.org
McFarlane, H. PhD. (2006). The Greening of Nuclear Energy. Retrieved February 10, 2010 from http://nuclear.inl.gov/papers.shtml
Obama, B. H. (2010). Remarks by the President in State of the Union Address. Retrieved February 10, 2010 from http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/remarks-president-state-union-address
Pickens, T. B. (2010). The Pickens Plan. http://www.pickensplan.com
Simpson, M. (2010). Simpson to Obama: Investigate Climategate. Retrieved February 11, 2010 from http://simpson.house.gov/News/DocumentSingle.aspx?DocumentID=163778).