Having spoken to Mark Warner extensively about clean energy and climate issues, there’s absolutely no doubt in my mind that he “gets it,” whether we’re talking about the environmental, national security, business opportunity, or economic aspects of the issue. Also, there’s very little question in my mind that, in the end, Warner will vote the right way on clean energy and environmental issues. What I don’t necessarily expect is for Warner to be outspoken publicly on these topics. That’s why I’m so pleasantly surprised to see Sen. Warner’s signature on this superb letter from the “Freshmen Democratic Class” – to Sen. Reid. The key points of the letter:
*The “transition to a clean energy economy…is an economic, national security and environmental priority.” Exactly.
*We need a “comprehensive solution that includes making polluters pay through a price on greenhouse gas emissions.” Yes!
*Legislation should provide “targeted incentives for investments in energy efficiency throughout the American economy.” As I’ve said a gazillion times, energy efficiency is, by far and away, the lowest of low-hanging fruits – also the “biggest bang for the buck” – when it comes to energy. For more on this subject, see David Goldstein’s book, “Invisible Energy”, which explainsthat “efficiency could produce 30 percent of the energy America would otherwise need by 2030,” with an “economic stimulus [of]…several trillions of dollars per year.” This one is the no-brainer of all no-brainers, frankly.
*We need a “federal renewable electricity standard (RES) that results in a meaningful increase in renewable energy production.” This is good, although the “devil’s in the details.” For instance, the RES shouldn’t include things that aren’t really “renewable energy,” and it shouldn’t include any form of energy that does more harm than good. That should be obvious, but sometimes it isn’t.
*We should invest in “expanded use of rail transportation” as well as “electric vehicles.” Combined with a strong RES, this should result in a sharp decrease in oil consumption, carbon emissions, the U.S. trade deficit, and the billions of dollars that currently flow to countries (and non-state actors) that aren’t our friends.
Again, thanks to Sen. Warner and the other freshmen Senators for signing this letter. Now, let’s get it done!
P.S. It would be great to see Jim Webb signing letters like this one!