aces, American Power Act, Claire McCaskill, clean energy, Clean Energy Works, EPA, Joan Bray, missouri, Murkowski resolution Rockefeller Resolution, Operation Free, Repower America, Show Me Energy Cooperative
It’s a sure thing that Kit Bond will respect the GOP love affair with Big-Oil and King-Coal, not to mention his party’s general policy of obstruction when it comes time to consider the Kerry-Lieberman American Power Act – just consider his absurd response to new EPA clean air regulations. Claire McCaskill, on the other hand, may hew to her Republican-not-so-light line, but, given her recent actions in regard to clean energy initiatives, it’s just possible that she may be coming around to understanding that CO2 emission control is part-and-parcel of getting to where we need to be, and that she needs to take a few risks and show some innovative, forward-looking leadership to help us get there.
It is surely this possibility that has led organizations like Repower America and Clean Energy Works to lobby as hard as they can to bring Senator McCaskill on board. Which brings us to a conference call earlier this morning organized by Clean Energy Works. The call, which consisted of brief presentations from Missourians representing political, business, farm, and military interests, fleshed out four compelling arguments for passing the American Power Act (and, I hope, for improving that flawed proposal):
Clean energy alternatives are here right now: This point was made forcefully by Steve Flick, Board President of Show Me Energy Cooperative, “a non-profit, producer owned cooperative founded to support the development of renewable biomass energy sources in West Central Missouri.” The Cooperative has used “stable biomass” as the basis for a “bio-pellet” that can be used for heat as well as to create electricity – recently the KCP&L utility company purchased the pellets to try them out as an alternative to coal for generating electricity.
Better yet, given McCaskill’s concern that Missourians not “get the short end of the stick” economically, bio-pellet production has the potential to increase farm income. One of the goals of the Cooperative, for instance, is to “provide additional revenue streams for farmers and producers for their products by utilization in biomass energy production.”
Clean Energy is politically viable: State Senator Joan Bray (D-24) observed that the public is ahead of the policy makers and wants the transition to clean energy now. She noted that the Massey coal mine disaster and the current catastrophic BP oil spill have brought home to Americans the costs of doing nothing. The public expects action not dithering from a congress that, according to Bray, doesn’t seem to be able to “walk and chew gum at the same time.” This argument might reassure our politically cautious McCaskill, especially since it is supported by some recent polling (see also here).
McCaskill, who professes to worry about the impact of precipitate action on the business climate, should also be receptive to Bray’s observation that Congress must make prompt decisions about energy for economic reasons as well, since businesses need to be able to rely on known rules if they are to plan intelligently.
Clean Energy makes us more secure: Jack Hembree, a U.S. Army veteran from Springfield and a member of Operation Free discussed the fact that because most of our oil comes from the Middle East – only 3% of our consumption is supported by domestic oil production – we will have no choice but to continue our military involvement in the region until we can move to clean energy. Listening to Hembree, it occurred to me that since McCaskill claims to support our troops, given the role of oil in putting them in harm’s way, how can she do other than to vote for the American Power Act?
Clean Energy has no downside: Ralph Bicknese, of Hellmuth & Bicknese Architects in St. Louis offered this formula for evaluating the real costs of our energy sources: just ask what happens when things go wrong.
Coal? Produces coal ash that ends up in unlined and unregulated sludge ponds. And what’s wrong with that? Think about toxic chemical byproducts seeping into your water, not to mention spills – remember what happened in Kingston Tennessee?
Oil? If I need to spell the downside out, you’ve been living in a cave for the last four decades.
Nuclear? As Bicknesse put it, when Nuclear goes wrong, it goes very wrong. Think Three Mile Island, Chernobyl and then think abut the problems inherent in storing poisonous waste with a half-life of a couple of millennia. Not to mention that power from nuclear energy is expensive. It’s a dangerous energy source and it’s not cheap.
Wind, solar? Maybe there are some little implementation problems but nothing that can go catastrophically wrong – no downside at all really. Biomass? essentially no downside that can’t be easily dealt with.
Given Senator McCaskill’s obvious understanding of at least some of the issues, as she articulates them on her Website, if she continues to walk backwards, as she did in her response to the proposed EPA regulations, we must demand that she tell us just why the considerations above do not convince her to not only support, but work to improve the American Power Act. So go call her – let her know that if she does the right thing, we’ll have her back in 2012.