On the day of his inauguration, President-elect Obama will face a world of problems — challenges as daunting as faced by any president in my life. Where does our new leader start to get America moving in the right direction? With an economy in freefall, our addiction to foreign oil deepening, our debt and deficit rising, our relations around the world in tatters, and the worst consequences of global warming looming, he can start with energy.
The way we produce and use energy is a root cause of all these problems, and bold and revolutionary change is needed to secure our energy future.
Here is what our federal government and our state leaders can do to spark that next industrial revolution. We urgently need a foundation to revive our economy and secure the future of the world’s children.
A five-point plan
Fresh Energy’s five-point game plan is fully aligned with Obama’s energy and climate platform. He will need all the help he can get to curb the power of fossil fuel industry, the most powerful vested interest on the planet. Congress and the American voters must refocus to get America working again, end our addiction to oil altogether, regain a place of respect and cooperation among the nations of the world, and begin to cut our emissions of global warming pollutants, beginning now, with steady and deep cuts over decades.
A new energy economy for America is the only strategy that addresses all these serious problems at the same time.
• Rebuild America’s economy with new energy technology and transportation infrastructure, creating millions of jobs in a low-carbon energy revolution, in part by providing a strong federal stimulus plan.
• Kick the oil habit, forever ending America’s dependence on oil by shifting to electricity and low-carbon biofuels and using land more efficiently, building public transit and transportation systems that don’t rely on oil.
• End coal pollution with new rules stopping construction of conventional coal plants and phasing out reliance on existing coal plants.
• Put a price on pollution by regulating global warming emissions in a way that will benefit everyone.
• Cut tailpipe emissions as a way to jumpstart automotive innovation and save gas immediately, getting the federal government out of the way of states that have taken the lead.
Energy matters. And fresh thinking can turn this economy around, create millions of green jobs, and keep America’s promise to its children to protect them and provide them the brightest future possible.
Michael Noble is executive director of Fresh Energy, a nonprofit organization whose efforts focus on clean energy, transportation connections, global warming solutions and energy justice. This article originally appeared in Energy Matters, the organization’s quarterly publication.
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