Cross-posted from Climate Progress.
On Tuesday, Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry issued a “positive” video highlighting his environmentally disastrous energy policy: Drill more, mine more, burn more. Michele Bachmann, another candidate who has proposed opening the Florida Everglades to offshore oil drilling, said of Perry’s plan: “I appreciate you endorsing my energy ideas.”
All the leading Republican candidates might as well be endorsing each others’ plans. Except for centrist Jon Huntsman, they are all calling for a shutdown of the Environmental Protection Agency, a rollback of environmental regulations, a repeal of renewable energy programs, and a drill-everywhere-burn-everything-under-the-ground approach.
Where’s the vision from these so-called “leaders”?
If you’re looking for some inspiration on the energy front during these dark political times, you can always find some from Amory Lovins’ Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI), where Climate Progress editor Joe Romm worked for two years in the early 1990s. The organization, which focuses on profitable, market-based solutions to our energy challenges, is about to release its latest project: Reinventing Fire.
The promo video below offers a teaser to RMI’s Reinventing Fire project, a detailed plan showing how to transition to a mostly renewable energy-based country by 2050 — all while growing the economy by 158 percent. This is the conversation we should be having. Why don’t we see more videos like this from leading politicians?
Here are some great factoids from RMI’s plan:
Much as cold warriors cast about for a new enemy after the Soviet Union collapsed, many feel that coal is now the irreplaceable fossil fuel. Electricity is essential to modern life, they say, too expensive to store, and far too asset-intensive to change even over a generation. We suspect they suffer from a dearth of practical imagination, as illustrated by this list of what approximate equivalent percentage of U.S. coal-fired electricity could be saved by:
- Using electricity only as efficiently (per GDP) as the top ten states averaged four years ago: ~60 percent;
- Systematically using electricity with cost-effective efficiency: 100-150 percent, at a lower cost than just buying the coal;
We mean to speed the transformation from pervasive waste to elegant frugality, from causing scarcity by inattention to creating abundance by design, from liquidating energy capital to living better on energy income.
- Adding windpower in available windy sites: over 400 percent, at or below wholesale power prices;
- Building just the windpower now stuck in the interconnection queue: 50 percent;
- Properly exploiting profitable industrial cogeneration: 40 percent (plus more in buildings); and
- Running coal plants less and existing but partly idle combined-cycle gas plants more: 35 percent immediately, at an extra cost much less than displacing coal with new nuclear plants. In practice, a combination from this far from exhaustive menu can create a practical transition beyond coal, with cleaner air, right-side-up landscapes, more jobs, greater energy security, and lower electric bills.