Energy & Environment

Extend wind production tax credit and preserve military biofuels program

As a twenty year veteran of the Air Force, much of my service revolved around issues of energy dependency and national security. Early in my career, I had the opportunity to serve on the National Security Council staff of President George H. W. Bush. There, I witnessed the end of the Cold War and the victory of freedom over tyranny. This was a bipartisan effort over decades. I was there too when we rolled back Iraqi forces from Kuwait, another effort that had broad support across the political spectrum, and I was with President Bush when he attended the Rio Summit 1992, placing a marker with the international community that climate change and alternative forms of energy were a top priority for the world’s leaders. Since the Rio Summit, we have found ourselves increasingly dependent upon fossil fuel, with our national security tethered to unfriendly nations and subject to volatile global markets.  To free us from the whims of distant countries, America must invest in renewable technologies and take advantage of our energy resources here at home.

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Congress should act to save nation's wind jobs

Energy is the issue of our time. No other issue will have a greater impact on our future, our air quality, our water resources, our economy, and our quality of life.

The central question is whether we will shape our energy and economic future through sustained strategic investment and development, or whether we will allow other nations’ economic and energy policies to shape us. This is what Congress must ask itself as it again considers the renewal of the wind energy production tax credit (PTC). And for the future of wind energy in America, this question has become increasingly critical throughout 2012 because of Congressional inaction. The wind industry, which directly employs some 75,000 people in good paying jobs in states across the nation, has already lost over 3,000 jobs and stands to lose another 30,000 within the next few months if Congress fails to extend this job-critical credit.

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Making progress on climate change at local and global levels

Conventional wisdom tells us that climate change is a global issue, and solving it will require global action. But just as the perfect shouldn’t be the enemy of the good, neither should the global be the enemy of the local. Both are necessary.
 
Even when it comes to climate change, diverse actions are having powerful impacts. Our new research at the Center for Climate Strategy illustrates that what cities, states and the federal government are doing on energy and transportation policy — from local building efficiency codes to national CAFÉ standards — is generating significant, measurable reductions of greenhouse gas emissions that are driving climate change.

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Getting past the hype behind wind energy

Thursday, head wind lobbyist, Denise Bode of the American Wind Energy Association, (AWEA), waxed eloquently about why extending the wind Production Tax Credit (PTC) is a splendid scheme that some of our legislators are supposedly supporting.
 
When a salesperson says their product is the cat’s meow, be careful that you don’t get caught in the claws.
 
Bode’s message is that an “All of the Above” energy policy is a terrific plan.

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Shades of gray in our energy policy

With the election behind us, it’s time for Congress and the Obama Administration to – as we say in Georgia – “Hunker Down”; stop with the sound bites and campaign barbs, and get serious about putting America’s economy back on track. A good place to start -- a comprehensive energy policy.

While both parties have proposed viable ways to increase American energy production that could form the basis of bipartisan compromise, one idea that needs to be quickly discarded is the so-called carbon tax.

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Keystone XL pipeline deserves a second look

It’s been four long years in the making. There was media praise and scrutiny. There were meetings upon meetings to explain how the next four years could be better. And in the end, we supported what we thought was in our national interest.
 
If only the Keystone XL pipeline could have enjoyed the same fate as President Obama. There are plenty of parallels that could be drawn between this past presidential campaign and the long road the Keystone XL pipeline has been forced down. Fortunately for Mr. Obama, he knew he would have an answer on November 6. But TransCanada and the 20,000 Americans who could be benefitting from new jobs going into 2013 haven’t been so lucky.

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EPA could waive ban on Primatene Mist inhalers for asthmatics

For years I have used a common over-the-counter emergency asthma inhaler called Primatene Mist. Like many asthma sufferers who find themselves awake at 2am with an unexpected asthma attack and do not have immediate access to an inhaler, Primatene Mist has been a simple and safe solution to what would otherwise be a costly and time-consuming emergency room visit. Unfortunately this past January, Primatene Mist was forced off pharmacy shelves due to an international treaty agreement known as the Montreal Protocol.

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A better way to manage information in times of disaster

As officials and organizations work overtime to reclaim and rebuild so many communities along the Eastern Seaboard in the wake of Sandy, a critical piece to the puzzle may actually be found in geometry. Or, to be more specific, it may be found within a new cutting edge application known as a “fractal.” A fractal is basically an object found in advanced geometry that repeats itself in patterns, infinitely. While these concepts in the abstract may be best reserved for water cooler conversation between PhDs, the reality is that these formulas can make a real difference on the ground in response to an epidemic or disaster, including the damage done by Superstorm Sandy.

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A pro-jobs energy policy to improve our economy

In the last century, government support for conventional fossil energy sources has totaled nearly $600 billion – or over 50% of the current $1.1 trillion U.S. deficit. Many of the associated tax incentives remain today, enshrined in the U.S. tax code.
 
While this heavy government support brought about an abundance of energy, it has resulted in an unbalanced, fossil-fuel heavy energy portfolio that is overly dependent on too few sources.

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Let's find agreement on new offshore access

Now that the election is (finally) behind us, President Obama has an opportunity to set the nation more forcefully on the road to energy independence. We’re well on our way thanks in large part to new techniques and technologies that have unlocked vast deposits of shale oil and natural gas. But we could and should be doing much more.
 
Back in June, the Interior Department issued its five-year Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) oil and gas leasing plan. Despite high expectations encouraged by President Obama’s self-described “all-of-the-above” approach to the nation’s energy policy and the absence of long-standing Administrative and Congressional exploration bans that were lifted in 2008, the plan failed to open any new offshore areas to oil and natural gas exploration and production. The industry is still limited to the same 15 percent of the acreage on the OCS that’s been available for decades, leaving 85 percent untouchable.

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