Campaign Season Yields Flurry of Clean Energy Proposals

Energy and climate change are at the top of the list of priorities for both major presidential campaigns this year. In Denver, almost every prime time speaker at the Democratic National Convention noted the need for a new clean energy economic development strategy. In his historic speech on Thursday night Senator Barack Obama committed, if elected, to ending the nation’s addiction to foreign oil within a decade. How? By replacing foreign oil with clean biofuels, conservation, efficiency, next-generation vehicles and research and development on new sources and uses for renewable energy.

This week Hurricane Gustav lashed the Gulf Coast, a reminder of the consistently more powerful storms generated by warming Gulf waters. The hurricane is playing havoc with the schedule at the Republican National Convention in Minneapolis, set to start tonight. The storm and the disrupted convention are evidence also of the political peril that envelops a government that fails to pay heed to sound science and the most critical environmental challenge of our time.

With that in mind we at the Apollo Alliance wanted to keep our readers abreast of all the clean energy proposals in play this campaign season:

The New Apollo ProgramOur own five-point economic development strategy for a new American prosperity (see pix above of Rep. Ed Markey with Apollo Chairman Phil Angelides (r) and Steelworkers President and Apollo Board member Leo Gerard (rear left).  Michigan Senator Debbie Stabenow). It calls for rebuilding America clean and green, making the tools and equipment of the clean energy economy in America, restoring our technological leadership, preparing people to take command of the millions of green-collar jobs under development, and investing in American ingenuity.

New Energy For America –The Obama campaign’s plan, a clean energy strategy based to a significant extent on the Apollo Alliance’s original 2004 New Energy For America study, and the 2008 The New Apollo Program. Though Senator Obama grudgingly concedes to being interested in keeping his sights on nuclear energy, and outer continental shelf drilling — a nod to political realities — the core of his program is scaling up clean biofuels, next-generation vehicles, energy efficiency, energy conservation, research and development, and solving climate change.The Lexington Project – Senator John McCain’s energy plan, which includes significant support for biofuels, next generation vehicles, and energy efficiency. But as the campaign has progressed, McCain has steadily moved toward the oil and gas constituency, and the major manufacturers of power equipment and the utilities that run it. The result is a campaign that sees more domestic drilling and allegiance to nuclear power as solutions to the nation’s energy and economic crises.

Al Gore’s plan “Produce every kilowatt of electricity through wind, sun, and other Earth-friendly energy sources within 10 years.” Gore proposes to update the electrical grid, help struggling auto giants switch to manufacture plug-in electric cars, guarantee good jobs, and insist that price of carbon-based energy include cost of environmental damage it causes. His plan is quite costly, estimates run to $1 trillion. His plan is not clear about specifics.

The Pickens Plan: T. Boone (right pix with labor leaders in Denver last week) wants to use wind power to replace 22% of the energy the U.S. generates forelectricity. Then, shift a portion of the energy used for transportation from oil – mostly imported – to natural gas. This would reduce U.S. demand for imported oil by 38 percent, Pickens contends. Pickens himself is investing $10 billion to build the world’s largest wind farm in the Texas Panhandle and estimates that his plan will spur $1 trillion in private investment and require another $200 billion in updates to the electrical grid.

Gang of Ten: A bipartisan coalition led by Senator Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) and Senator Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) Other senators in the coalition include: John Thune (R-S.D.), Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.), Mary Landrieu (D-La.), Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Mark Pryor (D-Ark.), and Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) The plan class for allowing leases for offshore drilling off the coast of Florida, Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana. It would also allow Virginia, N. Carolina, S. Carolina and Georgia to opt in to leasing off their shores. The plan supports nuclear and promotes conservation and efficiency, including $2.5 billion in research and development on biofuels and infrastructure. It also would fund a $20 billion “Apollo Project”-like effort to support the goal of transitioning 85 percent of America’s new motor vehicles to non-petroleum-based fuels within 20 years.

Representatives Mark Kirk and Judy Biggert — The two Republicans from Illinois co-sponsored The Apollo Energy Independence Act (H.R.6385) – a $23 billion initiative to provide market incentives to produce and deploy alternative energy, reducing U.S. dependence on foreign oil. The proposal is funded by reducing agricultural subsidies, cutting congressional earmarks, and ending outdated telephone subsidies. There is a lot about nuclear support and renewable, but the plan neglects jobs and industrial transformation.

– Keith Schneider, Seph Petta

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