photo by Theirry via flickr
I find it more than slightly ironic that the National Clean Energy Summit is being held in Las Vegas, a city that on environmental grounds and water usage alone probably should not exist, but nonetheless it's happening. Yesterday evening Bill Clinton opened the event will a speech which, among other things, outlined what he believes the US government should do to support renewable energy.
At the Federal level these are his recommendations:
And my comments, where warranted, in italics.
1. Pass a price on carbon via a cap-and-trade system.
2. Tax credits to purchasers or producers of clean energy, must have a 6-10 year time frame.
Yes, yes, yes. Current US renewable energy policy is all over the map in terms of time frames. Without consistent long term policy you simply create market uncertainty and stifle investment.
3. Modernize the electrical grid, both its efficiency and its carrying capacity.
This is something which many people have been highlighting recently. If renewable energy, in particular wind power, is to make a dent in fossil fuel usage we need to build the transmission lines to bring it from where it's most easily generated to where it's needed.
4. Utility decoupling ought to be mandatory federal policy rather than left to the states.
If this is done Clinton said that if this is done—separating a utility's profitability from its power output, utility companies will "pursue conservation with the same vigor with which they have pursued new power plants in the past."
5. Accelerate replacement of incandescent lights with florescent, and raise appliance efficiency standards.
6. Fund research and deployment of carbon capture and sequestration.
While there certainly is wisdom in this, as well as undeniably more research being needed before this is commercially ready, my fear is that it will continue to be dangled in front of the public as something always just on the horizon as the coal industry continues to pollute.
7. Accelerate the move away from corn ethanol to more sustainable biofuels via a "differential tax incentive."
As I've said before and will continue to say until we stop opening corn ethanol plants, corn ethanol is a dead end and of limited utility as even an intermediary step towards better biofuels.
8. Implement a national program to shut down all urban landfills and use the organic material for waste heat or fertilizer.
9. Accelerate the shift hybrid electric vehicles and modernize rail networks.
Hear, hear. Especially on the part about modernizing rail networks. Why the United States continuously refuses to expand the railway system of this country, especially in densely populated areas on the coasts, is beyond me.
10. Demonstrate to rest of the world that "this is not an affectation for rich countries," that it's just as big an opportunity for developing countries. This is how we can restore our world reputation.
Clinton Repeats an Important Message
All of these are important, though frankly nothing new in the sense that many people have been recommending similar steps for some time now. Perhaps if these are simply repeated enough times by high profile people we'll start truly getting somewhere on this.
Part of this shift needs to be a change in outlook and the underlying civic infrastructure. The 10 Steps Towards a Sustainable Future which the Post Carbon Institute put out a little while ago is a good starting point.
via :: Earth2Tech, :: Grist, and :: Platts
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