I am making a new addition to my Other Recommended News Sources today: The Heat Is On: Making Global Warming a Presidential Priority. This site, an offshoot of The League of Conservation Voters, is an excellent resource for those who want to know where the 2008 Presidential Candidates stand on Global Warming. It has many great features including: a Take Action page that links you to a petition to the candidates and to letters to the editor; a Candidates page which provides information on the candidates positions and statements, including videos; and an Events page which provides appearance information. I agree 100 percent with their mission and I am happy to be able to support it.
Top Editorial - Guardian Unlimited, UK - A burning issue: The PM’s decision over whether or not to approve coal-fired power stations is a litmus test of his commitment to tackling climate change, by John Sauven.
Top Story - China’s Environment is today’s top story with three articles in the news.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A senior U.S. lawmaker on Monday urged World Bank President Robert Zoellick to release mortality figures the congressman said were omitted from a draft bank report on the effects of pollution in China.
Barney Frank, a Democrat from Massachusetts, in a letter to Zoellick made public on Monday, applauded the bank’s efforts to investigate the effects of pollution problems in China.
But Frank said he was troubled to read that Chinese health and environment officials suppressed estimates of the nearly half-million people who die prematurely each year from breathing polluted air and drinking dirty water, and the parts of China that were worst hit.
“I write to urge you to release this data in order to achieve the report’s goal of making public the best and most inclusive information available on the effects of environmental problems,” said Frank, who is chairman of the House Financial Services Committee.
China’s State Environmental Protection Administration should be given ministry status, a deputy director said on Tuesday, endorsing an international recommendation as a way to help ensure policies are enforced.
The recommendation was one of dozens in an Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) report that said China’s efforts at environmental protection have been ineffective and inefficient largely because the central government has been unable to implement its policies.
“I think it’s a good recommendation,” Zhou Jian, vice-minister of SEPA, told reporters on the sidelines of a press conference concerning the OECD’s suggestion that SEPA should become a formal ministry.
“It would be good for strengthening the nation’s ability to implement comprehensive policies.”
Environmental groups have been pushing for SEPA to be given more status and power, and there has been speculation that it could happen as early as next year.
Zhou declined to say how long it might take for SEPA to become a ministry or how the transition might be made.
This article also refers to the fatalities mentioned above and explains one of the major reasons, water pollution.
About 460,000 Chinese die prematurely each year from breathing polluted air and drinking dirty water, according to a recent World Bank study, although Chinese officials disagree.
China has also introduced higher drinking water standards, but state media reports severe pollution of China’s vast lakes and rivers on an almost daily basis.
The announcement of the latest results of Green Gross Domestic Product (GDP) hit a stumbling block as some officials assert the time is not ripe to make a Green GDP report public.
The head of the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), Xie Fuzhan, said in response to reporters’ question recently in Beijing that it proved hard to calculate the economic cost of environmental deterioration as there is no worldwide criterion for Green GDP calculation.
China, which is being ravaged by severe pollution woes, released its first ever Green GDP report in 2004, which subtracted the cost of natural resources and the environmental degradation from the standard GDP figure.
Jointly issued by the NBS and the State Environmental Protection Administration (SEPA), the report hit a snag in 2005 as the NBS urged the SEPA not to publicize it. And resistance against releasing the result of the Green GDP even gained more momentum.
As a newly-created system, Green GDP is set to face mounting difficulties in measuring economic development at the cost of sacrificing the environment. But problems with methodology, which can be improved, should not be the only reasons for hindering the promotion of Green GDP. Some allege that some local governments and vested interest groups remain major roadblocks for implementing the pilot system, which China needs urgently.
China is willing to sacrifice its own environment and kill millions of its own citizens all for the sake of economic progress. China refuses to admit the scope of the problem, it is trying to hid the extent of the problem from its own people and the world, and still is unable to make any real progress with any part of the problem. Their air and water are getting dirtier every day. Their emissions are on a very dangerous acceleration curve. Despite repeated programs and government speeches the problem is getting worse, not better.
Now given all this information, is it any wonder that they will not agree to an emissions target or cut for their CO2 emissions. They can’t even clean up their own environment so why should they care about the world’s? They are the weakest link my friends, and they are getting weaker every day.
I can go on all day about the problems and difficulties China faces but it all comes down to one major conclusion - the same conclusion the developed nations made decades ago - unrestricted development kills the environment and in that process the people who depend upon it for air, water, and land. You can not have this high a rate of development without paying this enormous cost. Until China is willing to accept this reality, nothing we say will make any difference. Having failed to learn from our mistakes they are making their own, and only when they consider the cost to be too high will they finally take decisive action. This is a sad truth which kills millions of their citizens and unless they change quickly it will end up killing millions of people throughout the world.
The one bright light in this dark tunnel is that they are going to be hosting the Summer Olympics in 2008. With thousands of reporters on the scene from around the globe it will be impossible to hide or deny the reality. There is also the potential for some Olympic firsts: drinking water problems for athletes, the inability to hold some outdoor events due to unhealthy air conditions, and holding some events in dangerously polluted water. That, of course, is a horrifying scenario but I believe there is at least a fifty-fifty chance that one of these problems will occur.
I love the Olympics but this next Summer Games has me deeply concerned as does the future of the Winter Olympics; which will be radically transformed by climate change due to global warming. I predict that by 2050 the Winter Olympics will be held predominantly indoors at a permanent site, with massive stadiums specifically designed for this purpose. Outdoor events like the cross country and biathalon, will be held in the few locations that have the required snow cover, and may eventually be held in the antarctic.
I make these predictions, not to radicalize the debate or to scare people, but to show the wide ranging impacts global warming has (and will have) on every facet of our lives. Sports in outdoor stadiums may become impossible not just for the Winter Olympics but during the summer due to unhealthy heat conditions.
Every country has a national sport and just about every one of them is played outdoors. The US loves baseball, football, and (sigh) car racing - all of which are endangered species as outdoor events. Racing is going to have to make the biggest change to survive; converting over to pollution free vehicles when they are forced to move indoors.
Momentous changes are coming and as I keep saying we need to be prepared. We need to have Global Warming Insurance in so many areas including our culture, which will also suffer tremendously otherwise.
2nd Top Story - Tuvalu is back in the news today with this story: S.O.S.: Pacific islanders battle to save what is left of their country from rising seas.
Veu Lesa, a 73-year-old villager in Tuvalu, does not need scientific reports to tell him that the sea is rising. The evidence is all around him. The beaches of his childhood are vanishing. The crops that used to feed his family have been poisoned by salt water. In April, he had to leave his home when a “king tide” flooded it, showering it with rocks and debris.
For Tuvalu, a string of nine picturesque atolls and coral islands, global warming is not an abstract danger; it is a daily reality. The tiny South Pacific nation, only four metres above sea level at its highest point, may not exist in a few decades. Its people are already in flight; more than 4,000 live in New Zealand, and many of the remaining 10,500 are planning to join the exodus. Others, though, are determined to stay and try to fight the advancing waves.
The outlook is bleak. A tidal gauge on the main atoll, Funafuti, suggests the sea level is climbing by 5.6mm a year, twice the average global rate predicted by the UN’s International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
There is not enough data yet to establish a definitive trend but that figure is alarming, implying a rise of more than half a metre in the next century. Most Tuvaluans live just one to two metres above sea level.
Tuvalu is the poster child for Sea Level Rise. It will be lost long before it is drowned and the people of Tuvalu know this.
It is not so much the prospect of the islands gradually being swamped that worries the locals. It is the extreme weather events they are already experiencing, and which will make their homeland uninhabitable long before the land is submerged. The ever-more invasive spring tides, like the increasingly frequent and devastating cyclones, are associated with global warming.
The Government of Tuvalu has not given up on saving their nation.
Official policy is to assist those who wish to emigrate, but to continue working for Tuvalu’s future. “We still haven’t given up hope of living here,” says Kelesoma Saloa, private secretary to the Prime Minister, Apisai Ielemia. “But, reading the latest IPCC report, and with the icecaps melting so fast, my personal feeling is we’re fighting against the impossible.”
The deck is stacked against them. They are beset by more than just Sea Level Rise, which will be the last act in their destruction as a country. Climate Change and King Tides are the current problems, with saltwater intrusion into groundwater soon to come.
Tuvalu’s coral reefs are bleaching, and fishermen are having to travel further afield. Mr Salo, the prime minister’s aide, says: “There will come a point when we can’t grow anything in the ground, when all the trees start dying and we can’t get shelter.”
The king tides are a new phenomenon. When they strike, the land is almost level with the ocean, and waves break right across the island. The water table is so high that it seeps up through the earth. Among the buildings flooded is the Meteorological Office, which has photographs on its wall of children surfing past its front door.
What everyone fears is a cyclone coinciding with a king tide. “It would wipe out most of Funafuti,” says Taula Katea, the Met Office’s acting director.
Can Tuvalu be saved?
Saufatu Sopoanga, a former prime minister and an eloquent advocate for his nation, is irritated by assumptions that Tuvalu is doomed. “This type of thinking makes donors reluctant to come forward,” he says. “How can they say Tuvalu is doomed when they haven’t done anything to help us? The leaders of industrialised nations need to do something real, rather than just talk. There’s already been two decades of just talking.”
The fact is that Tuvalu could survive. Drastic cuts in carbon emissions would slow the process of global warming. The countries that have caused its problems could help it find solutions - building well designed sea walls, for instance, or dredging sand from the lagoon to raise the level of the land.
The latter scheme would cost £1.3m - a princely sum for Tuvalu, but a drop in the ocean for Australia or the US, neither of which have signed the Kyoto protocol.
I do not think Tuvalu will be saved. Along with many other small island developing nations the combined effects of climate change and Sea Level Rise will regrettably destroy them, unless (and this is highly unlikely) global warming is stopped in time.
The Headline Section
EVCarolina Announces First State Sales Tax Rebate for 100% Electric Cars
Solar Power Wins Enthusiasts but Not Money
$1000: PM turns on the tap -Australian Solar Power Rebate
Turbine shortage to leave some Scottish communities in the dark
China to boost forest-based bioenergy: official
Crist’s energy challenge hinges on nuclear power
A new dawn for nuclear power
German Debate Over Nuclear Power Grows
European Commission takes further steps to improve nuclear safety through dialogue and transparency
Reaction to the fire at the Japanese nuclear power Kashiwazaki-Kariwa - by Greenpeace
Petrol, Diesel, Biofuel & the “New” Nepal
EPEAT Products Offer Major Environmental Benefits, Study Finds
Report finds forest enterprises stifled by red tape, putting forests, incomes at risk
Report: Demand to Outpace Crude Supplies
China’s Demand For Recycled Wastepaper: A Blessing And A Curse For The World’s Forests
Green House Gases
Emissions job will be even harder: institute - Australia
Cleaner trucks and buses: Commission consults on tighter emission limits
U.N.’s Ban says will press Bush on climate change
Analysis: Combine Best of Federal Energy Bills
Broad Coalition Supports Farm Bill Investments in Clean Energy
California water projects seen sparking conflict
Politics, Pollution Collide in NYC Plan
Bloomberg Waits on State Lawmakers for Traffic Plan
Tidal Energy Turf War
Row over plan to build coal power plant - UK
RFP via NREL to Test Wind Turbines
Organic solar cells, the next frontier
Killer Whales Metabolize Contaminants, Yet Still Show Record-High Contamination Levels
New Process Promises To Reduce Costs Of A Clean-coal Technology
System Relies on Ice To Chill Buildings
Solar Cars Still in the Dark
Electronics makers break out ‘green’ initiatives
New Software Helps Gauge Buildings’ Energy Use, Emissions
YOUR TRANSPORTATION CHOICE CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE IN YOUR CHILDREN’S FUTURE
It’s colder than Antarctica - but he’s in NSW
Alberta power prices soar on record demand as heat wave drives up demand
Warming may bring hurricanes to Mediterranean
Extreme weather monitoring boosted by space sensor
Spotlights - Latest Global Warming Poll, Interview of German Environment Minister, and a Speech by the Secretary of Energy
1st Mini Spotlight - The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) announced: Polls Show Voters Around the Country Strongly Support Measures to Reduce Global Warming.
New polling research released this morning by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) shows that a majority of voters in key congressional districts identify global warming as the number one environmental problem today and favor immediate measures to reduce global warming pollution.
“Voters in Blue Dog and moderate districts feel strongly about the urgency of solving global warming,” said David Tuft, Campaign Director, NRDC’s Climate Center. “They support immediate reductions of global warming pollution and strongly favor mandatory pollution limits on power plants, industry and refineries.”
Combined findings from six moderate and conservative Democratic congressional districts found that seven out of ten voters agree that global warming is serious, and given a choice, 73 percent would start reducing global warming pollution now. By contrast, only 19 percent of voters said they would wait until cleaner technologies are available. In keeping with the call to action on global warming, a significant 63 percent of voters support placing mandatory limits on emissions from power plants through a cap and trade proposal.
The poll also asked voters about other ways to reduce global warming pollution. At the top of the list in every district was requiring appliance manufacturers to make more energy-efficient products and providing the public with incentives to invest in solar energy and better insulation. Eighty seven percent of voters in all districts also favor increasing fuel efficiency standards to 35 miles per gallon within a decade.
2nd Mini Spotlight - Lately I seem to be quoting entire pieces like I will be doing for this interview by German Environment Minister Sigmar Gabriel entitled, “This Is the Acid Test for Climate and Energy Policy“, as reported by DW-WORLD.DE.
German Environment Minister Sigmar Gabriel spoke to DW-TV about the environmental successes of Germany’s EU and G8 presidencies, the need for a new Kyoto Protocol and problems at German nuclear power plants.
DW-TV: Mr. Gabriel, at the European Union summit earlier this year, the German chancellor reached a breakthrough on climate and energy policy in the EU. The deal would see renewable energy sources making up 20 percent of Europe’s energy by 2020 — a relatively ambitious goal. At the G8 summit in Heiligendamm, the chancellor also managed to convince US President George W. Bush to take on the problem of climate change. It was clear before Germany took over the rotating presidency of the EU that climate protection would be an important topic. But, to be honest, did you expect these somewhat surprisingly positive results?
Sigmar Gabriel: Yes. That became clear in the meetings of the Environment Council that were held before the EU summit. We all agreed on one position in the EU, but of course it is still a great success. It was only possible because the heads of state and government got personally involved. If meetings were only between environment ministers, then we would never have had the power to make sweeping changes. Climate change and energy policy is more than just an environmental issue. It’s security, stability and economic policy. The leaders realize this now and this is a great success for Germany’s term as president of the EU. It’s also been a success for the grand coalition in Germany, for its climate and energy policy.
But the real test lies ahead. The promises made at Heiligendamm now have to be fulfilled. The UN climate conference in Bali in December is the next step to replace the Kyoto Protocol. That runs out in 2012 and it is important that countries like China, India and the US show more willingness to take part in climate protection. Do you think it will be a success?
George Bush has said that he will take part in the discussions, but he has not made any clear statements on the goals. It’s a bit like the Neil Armstrong quote: It might be a giant leap for the Americans — but only a small step for mankind. We have to get a mandate for negotiation in Bali. Then we will spend two years working out the new treaty. The Kyoto Protocol ends in 2012. Between 2009 and 2012, we have to get the new treaty ratified across the world. In Germany we have to get it passed by the 16 federal states. That takes time. So you can just imagine how long it will take for the whole world. We will need two years after the negotiations to get it passed by parliaments. We have to have a new treaty ready to come into effect by Jan 1., 2013, that provides far more climate protection than the Kyoto Protocol. It is of course also necessary that the international community backs the new treaty. The countries that are responsible for climate change — the industrialized nations, and that includes Europe and Germany — have to show that you can have economic growth and increased energy efficiency.
This is why we have to pass new climate and energy laws in Germany by the end of the year. The German chancellor not only has to convince seven federal states to pass these laws. She also has to convince the state premiers from her own conservative block, which seems increasingly difficult. We have worked well together with Chancellor Merkel and then we see our efforts undermined by conservative leaders. We can’t let this happen. We can’t demand that other countries participate and then do too little ourselves. This is the acid test for climate and energy policy — we will see whether federal states run by conservatives block or pass the new laws.
Two weeks ago there was a meeting about this in the Chancellery. It was decided, against the will of German industry, to increase energy efficiency by 3 percent annually. Currently it’s only 1 percent. Those are pretty ambitious targets and German industry says it can’t afford to do it. How realistic is this goal?
I never understood the fact that industry was against these plans. Surely it’s in their interests to reduce energy costs. When energy prices rise then it is prudent to reduce energy consumption. By the way, our energy efficiency currently increases at a rate of 1.7 percent. In times of economic growth energy efficiency also improves because plants become more efficient. People buy new cars, which are more efficient. So even without doing anything energy efficiency has risen to just under 2 percent. Now industry has to keep its promises and increase combined heat and power generation. We will introduce new laws because they have not lived up to their promises. We will do more on the consumer side — electrical goods will use less power, buildings will be better insulated. For all that we will provide extra subsidies.
The disputes between you and certain parts of industry in Germany are often quite vocal. There were press reports of comments you made — for example you said the actions of BASF CEO Hambrecht reminded you of business Stalinism. You were then accused of being an ecological Bolshevik. Does it do any good to deal with each other in this way?
No, it doesn’t. But sometimes you have to talk straight. If business leaders say they will only continue to talk to the government when it does what they say, then I have to tell them to look at the constitution. All state authority comes from the people through elections. This is not about special interests, it’s about the good of the people. I can understand that certain parts of German industry are annoyed that we are now putting more pressure on them to do what they promised in the first place but never actually did. They pledged to reduce CO2 emissions by 20 tons by 2005. The reality is 30 million tons extra were emitted, although high energy users like the chemical, steel, and aluminum industries actually cut CO2 emissions. But the energy industry itself increased emissions. So you can’t just simply speak of German industry as a whole.
Let’s stay on the topic of the power companies. Vattenfall, a Swedish energy giant, had incidents recently at two nuclear plants in the north of Germany. Without saying too much, let’s say that the information given by the company was questionable. As a Social Democrat, does that give you more reason to stick by plans, or even increase pressure, to phase out nuclear energy in Germany.
First of all, it shows that old power stations have risks. It makes sense to close old nuclear power plants sooner and let newer power plants run longer. This is because of the age and not necessarily because of the company that runs them, or the workers. I’m convinced that they are doing their jobs as well as possible. The nuclear power law also states that old plants should close first. But the energy companies want to do the opposite. The reason is simple. These old power plants have been completely paid off, so they make one million euros ($1.37 million) more profit a day than the newer plants. But safety comes first.
They have to close down the older plants and we will keep a strict eye on the plants that had incidents recently. The Krümmel plant will not be restarted until all problems have been solved. This is particularly true of the communication problems. Vattenfall has finally agreed to let us talk directly to the people in charge at the time of the incidents. We’re not out to get them. We just want to find out how it happened so that we know how to react the next time and check other plants for similar dangers.
We want to talk to the workers behind closed doors and we won’t be holding any one person accountable. I’m sure they all tried to do their best. But mistakes were made and we have to find out which ones.
DW-TV’s Jens Thurau interviewed Sigmar Gabriel (win)
Now compare that to our politicians and their statements. I especially liked his strong stance on decommissioning the older nuclear power plants.
I also call your attention to the difficulty we will face with ratification of a post Kyoto accord. I think he is too optimistic in his statements. I do not believe that we will have a new treaty in place by the end of 2009, since China and India have repeatedly stated that they will refuse mandatory emissions targets and cuts, and the US stance depends primarily on who is elected President in 2008. I predict a new accord will not be approved until mid to late 2010 at best, and maybe early 2011. It will require herculean efforts to get any new accord approved and ratified before Kyoto expires.
Major Spotlight - The Secretary of Energy deserves applause for his stance before the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC) which is holding its Summer Meeting in New York City from Jul 15-18 - U.S. utilities should offer efficiency services: DOE.
NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. power utilities should sell services that would make consumers more energy-efficient amid high power and natural gas prices, the U.S. Energy Secretary said on Monday.
In many states like California, Texas and Connecticut, utilities are struggling to meet rising power demand. Energy efficiency is increasingly being considered a “source” of energy as the cost of burning traditional sources of power like coal may soon rise on an expected tightening of environmental laws.
This story is a perfect example of why I chose this format for my blog; using a Spotlight and a Top Story section to go behind the news and fill in the missing details. Many - if not most - stories give you a quick “15 second type sound bite” rather than doing an in-depth piece and that is exactly what happened here. The DOE released a copy of the Prepared Remarks for Secretary Bodman which I pasted into a word document - it is five pages long and has over 2,200 words. This entire article is only 216 words.
As I mentioned in a spotlight yesterday, “Context affects opinion about novel energy sources”, the way a message is portrayed can greatly influence how that message is interpreted and that is why the context of these remarks is so important. Here are the quotes from the article:
The current rate-making structure of utilities, however, “provides incentives for investor-owned utilities to sell more electricity and gas, not less,” Energy Secretary Sam Bodman said at a conference of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners.
He said utilities should rethink their business to offer services rather than products like power or natural gas. “Thinking in these terms makes it easier to conceive of energy-efficiency as an enhanced service,” he said.
He said some states have helped utilities offer such services and that DOE is helping others learn from them. Some states have offered rewards to utilities for delivering energy-efficiency. Others, like California, have “decoupled” utility power sales from their profits, and still others have offered utilities ways to recover costs for energy-efficiency spending.
“DOE help states looking to initiate, enhance or expand these types of programs,” he said.
We must see the context; the paragraphs, before, during, and after the quote (which I will bold in the remarks) to fully understand what his speech actually meant:
1st quote - “provides incentives for investor-owned utilities to sell more electricity and gas, not less,”
Remarks - This first quote is about half way through the remarks - before making this assertion he called upon them to be team players:
We need to work together to build upon and expand these efforts. In the utility arena, you as state regulators obviously have the most critical and indispensable role to play. But I’m here today to tell you that we, at the federal level, intend to be pro-active partners in helping to shape the dialogue among states to reconcile best practices, accelerate available technology, and pursue policies that make the nation stronger, cleaner and more competitive.
Then he positioned his argument with a olive branch:
Each state is obviously very different, and you are the ones who best understand your states — and your customers’ — needs. As such, I’m not here to lecture or tell you how to go about this important work. But I would like to highlight some initiatives that are working well in states and also opportunities for your states and the Department of Energy to grow our collaboration together.
Then after once again calling on team work he told them, just like he should, what was required of them:
It is quite obvious that our current utility ratemaking structure provides incentive for investor-owned utilities to sell more electricity and gas, not less. Encouraging efficiency by definition means selling less, which is counter-intuitive to the present business paradigm. So the recommendation to realign incentives is fundamentally crucial to making significant progress in the area of energy efficiency.
Notice his choice of words when defining his recommendation: ”fundamentally crucial to making significant progress”. That is extremely powerful, absolutely correct, and exactly what he needed to tell them.
This paragraph is then followed by the paragraph with the:
2nd quote - which the article starts off with: He said utilities should rethink their business to offer services rather than products like power or natural gas. Then comes the quote “ “Thinking in these terms makes it easier to conceive of energy-efficiency as an enhanced service,”
We need to begin thinking about utility customers — our citizens — and what they are purchasing a bit differently: what customers are really buying is service, rather than the actual product: electricity or gas. Thinking in these terms makes it easier to conceive of energy efficiency as an enhanced service. Fortunately, some states already have experience on how to do this that we can all gain from.
Notice how they paraphrased his remarks without properly quoting them - one of the main reasons I throw in such lengthy quotes myself - and by doing so gave it an incorrect context which changed the message. The article stresses business needs over customers - exactly the problem - putting dollars before people, profits before the national welfare. He stresses the citizen customer and our needs. Compare ”rethink their business” with “thinking about customers -our citizens” & ”what customers are buying”.
3rd quote - this next paragraph in the article is a hodge-podge from several paragraphs with only one actual word quoted “decoupling” and it does appear to have been used in context but once again the message was distorted. Here is what the article said:
“He said some states have helped utilities offer such services and that DOE is helping others learn from them. Some states have offered rewards to utilities for delivering energy-efficiency. Others, like California, have ‘decoupled’ utility power sales from their profits, and still others have offered utilities ways to recover costs for energy-efficiency spending. “
Remarks - The very next paragraph says:
For example, some states provide various types of financial awards for superior performance by their electric and or gas utilities in delivering energy efficiency. Other states allow a “decoupling” between utility sales and profit or some other form of removing financial disincentives. Still others allow cost recovery of utility efficiency spending.
First do you see California in that remark, I don’t ,and then they left out “or some other form of removing financial disincentives.” That makes it a misquote in my book - adding information and leaving out other information. I also call your attention to the difference between their weak “some states have helped” and his strong “financial rewards for superior performance”. Which would you rather have as a business - to be ”helped” - or to receive ”financial rewards”. As for their last sentence it is fairly accurate if you ignore the difference between his “utility” spending and their “energy” spending. Once again he spoke to their needs and how business and government together can meet our needs, and that context is important. Their first sentence actually appears in his next paragraph.
The Department of Energy will help states looking to initiate, expand or enhance these types of programs. This year, DOE will provide technical assistance to at least five state public utility commissions that are considering aligning incentives with cost-effective energy efficiency. We are also working with NARUC to prepare materials for state regulators and their staff both on why realigning incentives is so important and also on how they could go about implementing such programs.
Context was distorted again, weakening it severely. They said “DOE is helping others learn from them”, an inaccurate statement, since he clearly is explaining what the DOE is offering and not comparing it to any specific state program. It also ignores that critical last paragraph in which he basically says that the DOE is not going to wait for you to ask for help, we are going to shove this down your throats and make sure you have it. He says this diplomatically though be stressing why it is “so important” and stressing “implementation” - getting the job done rather than talking about it some more.
The group he spoke to, the NARUC, is made up of the officials who run the State Utilities Commissions; like the Florida PSC which I spotlighted two days ago. Just look at this list of the NARUC officers, as named in the agenda for the Summer Meeting: James Y Kerr, II, President - North Carolina Utilities Commission; Marsha H. Smith, First Vice President - Idaho Public Utilities Commission; Frederick F. Butler, Second Vice President -New Jersey Board of Public Utilities; and Wendell F. Holland, Treasurer - Pennsylvania Public Utilities Commission. These people control what plants are built and where. He understands their power and their vital role.
Here are what I consider to be the important missing pieces from his remarks. I have highlighted his strongest, most definitive words.
He opened his remarks with a thank you and got right down to business - this is about security.
As regulators of the nation’s electric and gas utilities, you have a crucial role to play in advancing U.S. energy security.
Then he clearly states the challenge and the conflicting interests, while accepting the reality of global warming.
Clearly we need to find ways both to produce more energy — and to use existing energy more efficiently. At the same time, we must recognize the realities of global climate change and work to reduce the growth of greenhouse gas emissions, while not stifling economic growth — particularly in the developing world.
This complex scenario presents a significant challenge. But we can meet this challenge, provided we work together to develop and implement realistic solutions.
These are very strong statements and I agree completely. His next paragraphs are a cheerleader routine for his boss and I will leave them out. He then makes a statement that agrees with everything Live Earth and I have been saying about the vital importance of conservation and energy efficiency (with a little push for renewable energy in the first sentence).
There is no doubt that new energy sources must be developed. But there is also a clear and growing recognition of the role that prioritizing energy efficiency must play. As most of you know, the largest source of immediately available “new” energy is the energy we waste every day. Indeed, it is the cheapest, most abundant, cleanest, most readily available source of energy Americans can access, and your work — your leadership — is the key to unlocking its widespread use.
As regulators of electric and gas utilities, you have perhaps the most important role to playin securing access to this valuable energy source. The importance of energy efficiency has long been recognized by NARUC, going back to at least the 1980s. But I think it’s fair to say that interest has risen significantly in the last few years. The National Action Plan for Energy Efficiency that you and many other partners — with the help of the Department of Energy and the Environmental Protection Agency— have launched is evidence of this growing commitment.
The measures supported by this plan could allow us to save nearly $20 billion annually on energy bills, improving energy security and reliability while at the same time reducing costly damage to our environment. I applaud all of you and all of our partners, particularly the group’s past and current co-chairs: Diane Munns, Marcia Smith and Jim Rogers — for your ambitious work on this plan.
$ 2o Billion in savings, not for the utilities to spend, but that will be returned to our pockets.
Then we hit the area we discussed in great detail above, followed by the most important and truest statement in his remarks.
Because this is included as a key recommendation in the National Action Plan, I know you share my belief that this effort is essential to achieving real progress in the area of energy efficiency. Without taking steps to address the deficiencies and misaligned incentives of the current structure, I’m afraid all other energy efficiency initiatives may meet with only limited success.
He then talks about building more efficient homes and businesses and changing building codes. Then he makes a huge push for renewables with a call to remove the biggest block to residential and small scale commercial implementation.
I also encourage you to consider making your states “solar ready,” that is, making it easier for customers to sell electricity back to the grid. This may require legislative or regulatory choices to ensure fair metering and interconnection arrangements. And consider enabling transformation in the built environment towards zero-energy homes and offices.
There is no national net metering law and states vary widely on this vital issue; from the example I gave with Florida and just a few smaller utilities offering programs up to California with its statewide program. Even though he mentioned just solar this also applies to smaller scale wind power and micro hydro projects.
Now you see why I went into such depth with this spotlight on just one speech. Yes it was about conservation and energy efficiency but it was much more. It was a strong principled attack on complacency and a call to make real reforms that are critical to our security. That is why he also rates my applause for a job well done; and an acknowledgement that not all those in the Bush administration are deaf, dumb, and blind to the urgent need for action today.
In cased you missed the link at the beginning of this spotlight here is his speech. I also recommend viewing the DOE’s PSA on Switching those light bulbs (which is at the top of the page) featuring characters from the Disney-Pixar movie, Ratatouille. It requires Adobe Flashplayer 9.