Terry Tamminen

Terry Tamminen is the former secretary of the California Environmental Protection Agency and is now a policy adviser and author. His latest book is Watercolors: How JJ the Whale Saved Us.

We Must Lead It

In his inaugural address this week, President Obama committed us to get back to work on the challenge of a sustainable energy future. “We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations,” he said. But will this reignite the debate on climate change or have three widely publicized stories already done that for us? Data shows that 2012 was the hottest year on record in the US, starting last March with a heat wave in parts of the nation that kick started a severe drought in …

How to Profit From Climate Change

As the world assembles in Doha to debate climate change policy, solutions, and costs, few attendees at “COP18” are looking at this as a profit-making opportunity. If they did, there might be agreements among nations instead of continued gridlock and finger-pointing. Over two decades ago, scientists warned that growing carbon pollution in the atmosphere would result in sea level rise, which in turn would result in more flooding and damage, as storms became more frequent, intense and long lasting. England listened and profited from their actions. The US mostly ignored the warnings and paid the price in the aftermath of …

How the New Politics May Be Hazardous to Your Health

After the 2000 census, many states used politics and innovative mapping technology to gerrymander new electoral districts to lock in gains for one party or the other. California politicians, for example, drew new “safe” seats and the result was hyper-partisanship and politicians who didn’t need to pay attention to anyone that wasn’t singing from their sheet music. Unfortunately, the results may also be dirtier air and a less sustainable future. Alarmed by the partisanship and its resulting gridlock, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger led an effort to reform the system and convinced voters to put re-districting in the hands of a non-partisan …

Should Walmart Write America’s Energy Plan?

Recent campaign stops by Mitt Romney and President Obama could not provide a more stark contrast of energy policies. Romney promises coal miners that he’s in favor of energy from “below the ground”, albeit preferring domestic sources of all fossil fuels. The President has repeatedly focused on “above the ground” solutions, such as wind and solar power, along with a money-saving emphasis on energy efficiency, but both men fail to put their energy plans for America in the context of one key ingredient – – a goal. Is there any country that gets it right? Well, Walmart may not be …

Is New Nuclear Energy Just Mission Impossible?

Until headlines last week announced the end of his marriage to Katie Holmes, it seemed there was no mission too impossible for Tom Cruise to accomplish. But even his cool, Burj Khalifa-climbing character in the famous film franchise might refuse the Mission Impossible assignment facing global economies today – – powering growth with nuclear energy. The debate over nuclear has generally boiled down to the challenge of waste disposal. Of course there is always talk of safety, but proponents quickly point to the half-century of global experience with nuclear energy and the very few, albeit disastrous, incidents of the proverbial …

Give Solar Panels a Break

When I helped Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger create the Million Solar Roofs Initiative in California a few years ago, we designed it to stimulate mass production of solar panels to bring down cost. What we didn’t anticipate was that the building industry would crater around the same time and that unemployed roofers and electricians would find new jobs installing those clean energy systems, which created competition and dramatically lower installation costs. In fact, about 60% of the cost of installing a rooftop solar powerplant is tied up in the American parts and labor other than the solar panels themselves. I emphasize …

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