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Clean Energy Future Was Part of Democrats U.S. Victory

by Captain Future Mon Nov 13th, 2006 at 11:41:29 PM EST

Iraq, corruption, even immigration got the headlines, but that doesn't mean the environment wasn't a factor in the recent U.S. election, and therefore isn't a priority with voters. According to these environmentalists, not only was the environment a major issue in key campaigns, but environment and energy issues helped elect Democrats. Said the president of the League of Conservation Voters:

"This is the first election I can remember in U.S. history that has put such a specific focus on a top-priority environmental issue, which this year has been a clean-energy future."

This was especially true in races that featured anti-environment incumbents, such as Representative Richard Pombo in California and Senator Conrad Burns in Montana. Senator-elect Jon Tester in Montana was a shining case--a former organic farmer, he ran strongly on promoting Montana as a leader in a new clean energy economy.

Other candidates who made their opponents' anti-environment stands an issue and/or made their own support for clean energy and environmental issues part of their campaign included Senator-elect Claire McCaskill in Missouri, Governor-elect Ted Strickland of Ohio and Governor-elect Bill Ritter in Colorado.

Note the names of these states: not always the image of places with "Sierra Club values." But as the political director of the Sierra Club observed:

"The striking thing isn't just that the energy/environment issue played a decisive role in these races, it's that it was used to bring an optimistic, inspirational message to an election year marked by lots of negative campaigning."

A few days after his re-election by about 20 points, Governor Ed Rendell of Pennsylvania announced that PA will host the U.S. headquarters of a German solar power integration company--not the first to set up in the Commonwealth. Rendell states flatly: "Pennsylvania's new economy is being powered by clean energy development."

This list of candidates the environment helped includes even one Republican--Arnold Schwarzenegger in California--who supported the climate crisis initiative passed by the legislature. This agreement was cited by the Democrat who will soon to be chair of the Senate Environment Committee--Senator Barbara Boxer of California-- as a possible template for proposals on a national scale.

The fact that these wins added up to Democratic congressional majorities and the resulting chairmanships is another major plus. The most dramatic difference is that Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, chaired in this Congress by Republican Senator Inhofe who considers the Climate Crisis a hoax, but chaired in the next Congress by Barbara Boxer, who calls the Climate Crisis "the challenge of our generation."

Not a moment too soon, as the Global Carbon Project warns that carbon emissions are accelerating out of control.  According to the Independent:

The growth in global emissions of carbon dioxide from fossil fuels over the past five years was four times greater than for the preceding 10 years, according to a study that exposes critical flaws in the attempts to avert damaging climate change.

As Democrats look ahead to Congressional priorities and as potential candidates look to 2008, a winning as well as a critical strategy will be to build consensus for a plan to deal with emerging consequences of the Climate Crisis in the near term, while building a clean energy infrastructure to prevent the worst from happening in the future.  And to emphasize the economic and social benefits of re-industrializing America for clean energy and Climate Crisis technologies.

All candidates should heed well the words of President Bill Clinton during a question and answer period following his address at the recent "Securing the Commmon Good" conference at the Center for American Progress.  Speaking about economic inequality, he observed:

"And the lay down, obvious, sitting here, slapping-us-in-the-face answer is to make a commitment to a clean, independent energy future. It will create millions of jobs, and many of them are not exportable."

He went on to assert that if he were a presidential candidate today:

I would say to the American people, 'If you want to do this in a big way, vote for me; if you don't, find somebody else because this is all I'm going to work on till I get it figured out.' Because this is just a huge opportunity."

When "clean energy" becomes a winning formula for politics...great news!

"Once in awhile we get shown the light, in the strangest of places, if we look at it right" - Hunter/Garcia
by whataboutbob on Tue Nov 14th, 2006 at 10:11:40 AM EST
The election results are like the three blind men and the elephant, each describes what they feel at their location.

So far we have heard that the election was a mandate for liberalism, conservatism, a rebuke to the Republicans, not much of a change, all about the war, all about the economy, a vote in favor of deadlocked government, a vote in favor of change, and now concern about the environment.

As far as I can see, the long-serving old-time liberals will head many of the committees. This will allow them to stage manage a lot of political theater - some of which may even produce some rollback of corruption.

Nancy Pelosi is backing the most conservative, militaristic Dem for majority leader. He isn't upset with the military/industrial/congressional complex, he just wants his military to stop being chewed up.

Anyone talking of "energy independence" is still avoiding dealing with reality.

Perhaps what is needed is for some enlightened billionaires to fund a new think tank which is willing to do realistic ecological and economic research. The present batch of think tanks are all funded by ultra-conservatives looking for pseudo-research to justify their plutocratic self interest. I'm not hopeful.

Policies not Politics
---- Daily Landscape

by rdf (robert.feinman@gmail.com) on Tue Nov 14th, 2006 at 10:38:22 AM EST
Colman posted this in this morning's European Salon:

New House Leadership, Same Mileage Standards

John Dingell, a Representative from Michigan, will, come January, be the Chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. His district is home to all three of America's top car manufacturers, and, for some reason, he's not in favor of increasing mileage standards. Some members of Congress have been walking the Treehugger line, saying that efficiency of American vehicles could easily double in every class. The benefits for the environment would be incalculable, they say, and the burden on industry would be negligible.  But with Detroit's Representative charing the House Energy Committee, those changes are extremely unlikely.

Dingell's perspective seems to be that new clean technologies should be strongly encouraged, but no regulations should be placed directly on the automakers. In a recent interview with CNBC, Dingell was asked about vehicle efficiency standards and replied, "I'm not sure that there's any urgent needs for us to address those questions."


*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Tue Nov 14th, 2006 at 04:30:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That's one House Committee. Here's what McClatchy newspapers said about another--Barbara Boxer's environment committee in the Senate:

Automakers and manufacturers, beware: There's a new environmental policy boss in town, she scowls a lot, and two of her favorite phrases are "global warming" and "extensive hearings."

The U.S. political establishment has been in denial about these problems for 6 years, and the media has largely followed their lead. It won't be easy to get this going--and you can hardly expect a congressman from Michigan to say anything else--but what I believe is most important is that we've got powerful places to start.  

"The end of all intelligent analysis is to clear the way for synthesis." H.G. Wells "It's not dark yet, but it's getting there." Bob Dylan

by Captain Future (captainfuture is at sbcglobal dot net) on Tue Nov 14th, 2006 at 10:13:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The Democratic majority in Congress, and the fact that newly elected Senators and Reps ran on a clean energy program, provides the best opportunity in a generation for building a consensus and taking action on clean energy and other requirements to deal with the Climate Crisis.

The difficulties are a given. But while political cynicism is easy, getting this to work will be hard.  But we have no choice.  It's very likely now or never.  And the U.S. has to be part of the global effort, and still needs to be among the leaders. I see no alternative but hope, and courage.

"The end of all intelligent analysis is to clear the way for synthesis." H.G. Wells "It's not dark yet, but it's getting there." Bob Dylan

by Captain Future (captainfuture is at sbcglobal dot net) on Tue Nov 14th, 2006 at 04:18:37 PM EST

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