Tag Archives: Energy

Jottings and Questions V

Catholic & Lutheran Bishops have urged Governor Dayton and the Legislature to preserve access to basic needs for the state’s poor.  It’s funny how GOP wants the poor, disabled, elderly, mentally ill, public school districts, colleges and universities and middle class workers to sacrifice for this 5 billion dollar deficit, but they don’t think the wealthiest Minnesotans should sacrifice a little with a small tax increase?  …no, I guess it isn’t funny.

If free-market or trickledown economics work, why are there 50 million people living under the poverty line?

When I was asked as a candidate about nuclear power, and the nuclear power moratorium, I stated I was not a fan of nuclear power, nor would I support lifting the moratorium.  My reasoning was that in the first place, we still don’t have a way to recycle or store the used nuclear waste, but my main reason was that it just takes one disaster, one terrorism action or poor design to harm innocent people.  I was told how many good union jobs it would create, how much the technology has improved, how many safety backups there were, and that it was possibly the safest energy America can produce.  The problem is that we cannot predict everything that can happen.  We can keep learning and improving, but a single disaster every 20-30 years impacts communities, including children and families around it.  It isn’t just worker’s taking a risk, neighborhoods are at risk.  Maybe instead of spending so much on nuclear power, the government should stop subsidizing nuclear power and begin investing more money in new, clean and safe energy technologies.

Farmington and Lakeville both have senior centers.  In fact, in Farmington the Rambling River Center was moved and updated recently, and in Lakeville the Senior Center is at capacity and the council has discussed moves.  Senior centers are a good thing, but why don’t we have teen or rec centers in Farmington or Lakeville?

When I was a kid growing up in South Minneapolis, the Foshay Tower and the IDS were the two buildings that poked up over the trees.  The IDS and the Foshay were the Minneapolis skyline.  The other day I was sitting by a window looking at the Foshay Tower in the not too far distance.  It is a great building, and worth noting a little of its history and a couple facts.  It was the first skyscraper west of the Mississippi and was finished just before the start of the Great Depression in 1929.  It stood as Minnesota’s tallest building until the IDS passed it during construction in 1972.  It is still the second tallest concrete skyscraper, second only to the Empire State Building in NY.  When I was working on the senior paper for my history degree, I and one other student did concentrations on Minnesota history.  My senior paper was on the history and disappearance of local breweries in Minnesota, hers was on Wilbur Foshay and the lawsuits that followed his financial ruin due to the Great Depression and Ponzi schemes.  It is an interesting story, worth learning more about, and it is a great looking building.

Pollution billionaire David Koch sees the heating up of the planet as good news. From a New York Magazine interview: “The Earth will be able to support enormously more people because a far greater land area will be available to produce food.” Yeah, that’s the ticket…

As tax season winds down, I want to remind people to fill in the box on your Minnesota income tax forms for the State Elections Campaign Fund.  It doesn’t reduce your tax refund or increase your tax payment if you owe, it simply is used to determine how much public funding goes to state candidates in your district.  In district 36, more Republicans checked the box than DFLers, resulting in the Republican candidate receiving $2087 more dollars to use for the 2010 election.  $2000 is a mailer!  The southern Senate districts of 33, 34, 35 and 36 have the largest ratio of Republican checkoffs.  It is hard for progressives to win if they can’t compete from a money standpoint.  Fill in the box, the DFL code is 13!

What do you get when you cross a truck with a hybrid? Not much.

A friend of mine told me to register for the HGTV Dream Home in the Florida Keys. The prize is a 2.2 million dollar home with furnishings and a new GMC Yukon Hybrid. There is no way I could pay the property taxes, let alone the income tax on receiving that home, but I was very intrigued by the GMC Yukon Hybrid.

A hybrid truck! That sounds great! It was until I saw the MPG is 20 city, and 21 highway. That sucks! A regular Yukon gets 14 city, and 21 highway. I realize it is an improvement, and better than nothing, but nobody can tell me that the auto industry is unable to do better.

We have heard all of the statistics that cars actually have worse gas mileage now than they did in the 70s. We’ve heard Exxon made 40 billion dollars last year. It is practically conspiratorial – cars use more gas, oil companies charge more and it cripples the middle and working class.

This lack of innovation could lead to worse things. Wants rather than innovation lead to war. One of Japan’s goals in starting WWII was to acquire natural resources. Sudan’s recent war turned into a war over oil. And the US has been militarily involved in the Middle East for more than a half a century because of oil. We have fought two wars in Iraq, on top of spending trillions of dollars throughout the Middle East to support governments considered “favorable” to us.

Oil Obsolescence is the path to world peace, at least temporarily. I say temporarily because it probably won’t be long before wars over other natural resources, like water, take over.

Without the innovation, we are risking economic security. Since OPEC cut oil production in the 1970s creating the oil crisis what have we done? Nothing!

Politicians only care about now, and risk our health, security and freedoms in the future rather than planning for the future. America is not a corporation. We aren’t stockholders looking for a big dividend. We need long term security, and forward thinkers.

Hillary, Barack and the Energy Issue

“I recognize the right and duty of this generation to develop and use our natural resources, but I do not recognize the right to waste them, or to rob by wasteful use, the generations that come after us.”
— Theodore Roosevelt

It is very early right now, but I am excited about the competition between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, and the prospect that one of them will likely be the next President.

One thing that I am paying attention to is their stances on energy issues. While the war is the overriding hot issue right now, it can be stopped in a day. The impending energy crisis can’t. I believe both candidates will be very progressive when it comes to energy issues, but I am waiting to see what sort of energy issues they will campaign on.

Barack Obama’s website list some bills he has introduced to increase energy independence, but he doesn’t have the plans Dennis Kucinich has, and Hillary Clinton doesn’t even have an issues section on her website yet.

What I think we need to recognize is that when we talk about energy policy, we are talking about environmental issues and global warming issues too. Everything is intertwined, but the energy issue is number one.

Right now, expert scientists, energy advocates and pastors are speaking out about global warming on a daily basis. While I believe that needs to be done, we need to begin by talking about the energy policy issues and potential crisis the nation is facing. If energy policy is the key phrase, Republicans who refuse to accept the idea of global warming cannot reject the fact that we need to reduce our dependence on oil from the Middle East. Wording is important.

When we begin concentrating on creating renewable, cleaner energy, we will create a better environment.

H-Bomb – Hydrogen Cars at the Expense of Electric Cars

President Bush has declared hydrogen to be the fuel of the future on more than one occasion. Maybe it will be, but as the movie “Who Killed the Electric Car” points out, hydrogen is becoming a distraction from what is currently possible in terms of the electric car, compared to what might be possible in the future with hydrogen. It is delaying real change for another decade or even another entire generation.

Why do we make this stuff difficult? Do we really need to wait ten or twenty years? Why can’t we take baby steps? Why can’t we just force auto makers to increase fuel efficiency?

I’m not a scientist, but it seems like common-sense to me that if we increase fuel efficiency by 10% over the next couple years, I think that is two to three mpg, we would reduce the amount of oil we buy from the Middle East by 10%. I think that also means we would reduce emissions by 10%, right? And I am no economist, but it seems to me that if we spend that 10% savings we aren’t giving to Saudi Arabia, here in the United States, that it would boost our economy too. Make sense?

In a way, I commend those pushing for hydrogen because at least they are not denying there is a problem, and I encourage the development, but I question whether spending billions on hydrogen, at the expense of immediate fuel efficiency increases and/or electric car technology is a wise move. Electric/hybrid car technology has been advancing for a decade, and it seems like we’d be starting over if we make hydrogen the priority rather than an option.

Most realistic enthusiasts of hydrogen see it more as a long-term strategy, not an answer to the concerns about air quality, climate change and energy conservation over the next 20 years. Besides, hydrogen isn’t exactly a safe option right now. The BMW Hydrogen 7 can’t be kept in enclosed garages in case the gas leaks which could cause an explosion. I think the propane tank on my grill says that too. I doubt there is a warning sticker like that on the Toyota Prius.

The kinks in hydrogen might take decades to get ironed out, until then, we should concentrate on immediate fuel efficiency improvements and expanded electric car technology. That seems like common-sense.

No Gas Price Trap

So many people seem relieved that gas prices are dropping, but we can’t fall back into the trap that happened in the 90s. We should not accept that right now, the U.S. is more dependent on oil from unstable Middle Eastern countries than we were on September 11, 2001.

There are a lot of conspiracy theories out there, oil prices are dropping because the oil companies want people to forget about the high cost of gas by the time the elections roll around to keep their right-wing hacks in their back pocket, or that Saudi Arabia, the UAE and other oil rich nations want Bush to keep his power, along with his addiction problem.

If we want a safer and more secure country, not just in terms of terrorism, but the equally important environmental aspects, it’s time to break our dependence on foreign oil. We can do that by electing progressive candidates at the state and local level who support:

  • Investment in production of renewable, cleaner-burning ethanol so that, instead of importing oil from the Middle East, Minnesota’s farmers will produce America’s fuel.
  • Speeding up the development of new fuel-efficient vehicles such as plug-in hybrids, not hydrogen based vehicles that are years behind hybrid in technology.
  • Requiring car companies to increasing a gas powered cars fuel efficiency. According to a July 18th Washington Post article, the EPA said the industry-wide fuel economy of 2006 model-year vehicles was 21 miles per gallon. If we can increase that average to 26 MPG, our nation can reduce our auto fuel usage by 20%. That means you have 20% more of your gas money to spend on whatever you want, and terrorist supporting oil rich countries have 20% less to spend on what they want.
  • Offering tax incentives for buying hybrids rather than hummers for small businesses.
  • Requiring all municipality, county, state and federal vehicle fleets, including buses, to reduce its overall fuel consumption by moving toward hybrids or alternative fuels like ethanol and bio-diesel. 

If we can elect a majority, common-sense and progressive government, I think this will happen by the end of the decade. The new candidates in Minnesota we need to elect are Amy Klobuchar in the senate, Mike Hatch for governor, Lori Swanson for attorney general, and Patty Wetterling, Tim Walz and Coleen Rowley to congress in seats currently held by Republicans. We need to support local Democrats like Paul Hardt in my district and your local Democratic candidate so we can take back the Minnesota House.

A lot of people are kicking themselves for their votes in 2004. Together we can make sure that doesn’t happen again. I know it is hard to talk to people about political issues, but we can’t go on much longer as a nation, or even a world, if we don’t take back this country from the right-wing elite who think their 1% is more important than us.