“In Green Party terms, acceptable energies are wind, solar, ocean, small-scale hydro, and geothermal power. Nuclear is out as much as oil, natural gas, and coal. So is ‘dirty clean energy,’ defined as ‘biomass incineration (trees, crops, construction debris and certain types of waste), landfill gas and many types of biofuels.’”
Yesterday’s post examined the Green Party’s climate platform for the 2020 election. The Green Party’s Emergency Green New Deal joins Biden’s Green New Deal and the OAC/Sanders Green New Deal, each is designed to eliminate fossil fuels and go to a new (really old) energy future.
In Green Party terms, acceptable energies are wind, solar, ocean, small-scale hydro, and geothermal power. Nuclear is out as much as oil, natural gas, and coal. So is “dirty clean energy,” defined as “biomass incineration (trees, crops, construction debris and certain types of waste), landfill gas and many types of biofuels.” That’s not much to power industrial society.
Below, the Green Party platform’s energy plank is reproduced with emphasis added via bold. (Thursday, MasterResource considers the Libertarian Party platform on energy and the environment.)
Ecological Sustainability: Energy
The United States has a high-energy-consumption economy based mainly on fossil energy. The extraction, refining, and combustion of fossil fuels have proved extremely harmful to the environment, and supplies are rapidly being depleted.
Over the past century, the infrastructure of our civilization has become utterly dependent on plentiful oil, coal, and natural gas: vast land, air, and sea transportation networks; increasing dependence on imported goods; industrialized food production dependent on fertilizer and biocides; and sprawling, car-dependent neighborhoods and workplaces. Our electric grid depends on fossil fuels for two-thirds of its energy.
Dirty and dangerous energy sources have generated an unparalleled assault on the environment and human rights. In the U.S., low income communities and communities of color bear the greatest burden of health impacts due to exposure to emissions from coal and gas-fired power plants.
Native American communities have been devastated by uranium mining, and the people of Appalachia watch helplessly as their ancient mountains are destroyed for coal-fired electricity. Regional and global peaks in supply are driving up costs and threatening wars and social chaos. [See section on Climate Change, above]
Since 1859 when the first commercial oil well was drilled in Pennsylvania, the global community has consumed about half what nature generated over hundreds of millions of years. Although coal is more abundant than oil, it is inherently dirtier than oil, is limited in terms of its use as a vehicle fuel, and demand is skyrocketing globally for use in electricity generation.
Natural Gas is also in high demand for power production and is ultimately finite. We must plan and prepare for the end of fossil fuels now, while we still have energy available to build the cleaner, more sustainable energy infrastructure that we will soon need.
To simply substitute better energy sources in place of fossil fuels is not the answer for two main reasons. First, there are no energy sources (renewable or otherwise) capable of supplying energy as cheaply and in such abundance as fossil fuels currently yield in the time that we need them to come online. Second, we have designed and built our infrastructure to suit the unique characteristics of oil, natural gas, and coal.
The energy transition cannot be accomplished with a minor retrofit of existing energy infrastructure. Just as our fossil fuel economy differs from the agrarian economy of 1800, the post-fossil fuel economy of 2050 will be profoundly different from all that we are familiar with now. Changes would occur if we wait for the price of fossil fuels to reflect scarcity, forcing society to adapt; however, lack of government planning will result in a transition that is chaotic, painful, destructive, and possibly not survivable.
The Green Party advocates a rapid reduction in energy consumption through energy efficiency and a decisive transition away from fossil and nuclear power toward cleaner, renewable, local energy sources. Toward these goals, we advocate:
1. Encourage Conservation
Encourage conservation and a significant decrease in our energy consumption, institute national energy efficiency standards.
With five percent of the world’s population, U.S residents consume twenty-six percent of the world’s energy. U.S. consumption of electricity is almost nine times greater than the average for the rest of the world. These are not sustainable levels.
- The U.S. must retrofit its building stock for energy efficiency. Most U.S. residents live in homes that require heat during the winter, and most are inadequately insulated. Buildings in the South require air conditioning during the summer. Fuel shortages, power outages, and energy price hikes could bring not just discomfort, but a massive increase in mortality from cold and heat. Millions of buildings can and must be super-insulated and, as much as possible, provided with alternative heat sources (passive solar, geothermal, or district heating).
- Energy efficiency standards similar to those in California must be adopted nationally. The energy efficiency standards adopted there in the late 1970s have resulted in overall electricity-use remaining flat over the past three decades while the population has steadily increased. During the same time period electricity use in the rest of the U.S. has climbed along with population growth.
- There are many different ways to increase energy efficiency and the best path for one region of the country might differ from that of another. We will need concerted effort to increase efficiency in every sector of our economy. Technologies exist that, if widely implemented, can result in huge energy savings.
- Cogeneration and use of waste heat to generate electricity should be encouraged.
- A carbon tax, which the Green Party supports, would serve as an important market incentive to increase efficiency.
2. Move to Renewable Sources
Move decisively to an energy system based on solar, wind, geothermal, marine, and other cleaner renewable energy sources.
The development of Earth-gentle, sustainable energy sources must be a cornerstone of any plan to reduce reliance on conventional fossil fuels. The Green Party advocates clean renewable energy sources such as solar, wind, geothermal, marine-based, and other cleaner renewable sources as the long-term solution.
- Many other solutions being pushed, including nuclear power, coal, industrial-scale biofuels, and low-grade fossil fuels such as oil shale and tar sands, create more problems than they solve.
- Further research with increased government support is needed into new energy storage technologies, as well as new cheaper and non-toxic photovoltaic materials and processes, and new geothermal and ocean power technologies.
- Policy tools to directly support the development of renewable energy sources, such as Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS) and Feed-in Tariffs, should also be reviewed for effectiveness. In general, a feed-in tariff is legislation enacted by the government that requires the large electric utilities to guarantee a price for the renewably generated electricity fed into the grid. When done right, such as in Germany, this policy appears to succeed in harnessing entrepreneurial zeal.
- State-level financing policies like California’s AB 811 can help homeowners install expensive renewable energy where the county pays the up-front cost and the system is paid for via the homeowner’s property taxes.
- Greens support voluntary purchase of tradable renewable energy certificates; however, voluntary approaches are not sufficient.
- Greens support research into advanced fuels when the purpose of the research is to develop a fuel that in its full cycle does not create more problems than it solves. We support the use of hydrogen as an energy storage medium; however we oppose the use of nuclear technologies or carbon-based feedstocks for hydrogen production.
- We call for a ban on the construction of large-scale and inappropriately-located, hydroelectric dams.
3. Eliminate dirty & dangerous energy sources
The Green Party advocates the phase-out of nuclear and coal power plants. All processes associated with nuclear power are dangerous, from the mining of uranium to the transportation and disposal of the radioactive waste. Coal is the largest contributor to climate change with estimates as high as 80%.
The generation of nuclear waste must be halted. It is hazardous for thousands of years and there is no way to isolate it from the biosphere for the duration of its toxic life. We oppose public subsidies for nuclear power. Cost is another huge factor making it unfeasible, with each new nuclear power plant costing billions of dollars.
The Green Party calls for a formal moratorium on the construction of new nuclear power plants, the early retirement of existing nuclear power reactors, and the phase-out of technologies that use or produce nuclear waste, such as nuclear waste incinerators, food irradiators, and all uses of depleted uranium.
We call for a ban on mountaintop removal coal mining. With limited supplies and in the absence of commercially viable “clean coal” carbon sequestration, which may never be feasible, coal is neither an economically nor an environmentally sustainable solution.
We call for the cessation of development of fuels produced with polluting, energy-intensive processes or from unsustainable or toxic feed stocks, such as genetically-engineered crops, coal and waste streams contaminated with persistent toxics.
We oppose further oil and gas drilling or exploration on our nation’s outer continental shelf, on our public lands, in the Rocky Mountains, and under the Great Lakes.
Due to serious negative impacts on food, soil, and water, we oppose industrial-scale biofuels production and biomass burning for electric power generation. We approve small scale distributed production under local control, such as production of biodiesel from waste oils, production of charcoal and byproducts from wood wastes or sustainably harvested wood, small scale production of ethanol from crop wastes or maize stalk sugar, or production of fuel gas for localized electricity generation from anaerobic methane digesters or charcoal gasifiers.
We do not object to the utilization of fuel gases seeping from landfills, as that is one way to reduce air pollution. We support as a minimum standard the Principles for Sustainable Biomass statement signed by Clean Water Action, Environmental Defense Fund, Environmental Working Group, Friends of the Earth, Geos Institute, Greenpeace USA, National Wildlife Federation, Natural Resources Defense Council, Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, Southern Environmental Law Center, Union of Concerned Scientists, The Wilderness Society, and World Wildlife Fund.
The Green Party stands for the enactment of bans on hydraulic fracturing for natural gas and oil on the local, state and federal level and stands for bans on the disposal of wastes created by the fracking industry.
4. Decentralize the Grid
Plan for decentralized, bioregional electricity generation and distribution.
Decentralized power systems are likely to be more resilient in the face of power disruptions and will cut transmission losses, assure citizens greater control of their power grids, and prevent the massive ecological and social destruction that accompanies production of electricity in mega-scale projects.
- We support”smart grid”upgrades. The federal government must step in to set goals and standards and to provide capital. This effort must not favor commercial utilities over municipal power districts.
- The Green Party supports net metering to make decentralized energy production economically viable.
- Greens support tax-exempt bonds to finance public ownership of utilities and to allow publicly owned utilities to finance conservation and renewable energy projects.
- We oppose deregulation of the energy industry.
5. Re-localize the Food System (De-carbonize and re-localize the food system)
Our national industrial food system is overwhelmingly dependent upon oil and natural gas for farm-equipment fuel, fertilizer, pesticides, herbicides, and the transport. It is responsible for over 12% of all greenhouse gases from human activities in the U.S. New farming methods, new farmers, and a re-localization of production and distribution are needed. These will require land reform, an investment in revitalizing rural areas and the creation of local food processing plants and storage centers. Laws and incentives affecting the food system (including food safety laws and farm subsidies) will need to be rewritten to provide preferential support for small-scale, local, low-input producers.
6. Electrify the Transportation System
Our enormous investment in highways, airports, cars, buses, trucks, and aircraft is almost completely dependent on oil, and it will be significantly handicapped by higher fuel prices, and devastated by actual fuel shortages. The electrification of road-based vehicles is a must and will require at least two decades to fully deploy and we must move to Earth-gentle electricity generation to charge the vehicles.
Meanwhile, existing private automobiles must be put to use more efficiently through carpooling, car-sharing, and ride-sharing networks. [See Transportation section below for more, including need for dramatic increase in CAFE or gasoline efficiency standards]
7. Requirements for Energy Transition
Investment: Enormous amounts of investment capital will be needed to accomplish the energy transition, much more than the promise of $150 billion for renewable energy over ten years, and must now come from government.
Coordination: The energy transition will be complex and comprehensive, and its various strategies will be mutually impacting. For example, efforts to redirect transport away from highways and toward rail service will need to be coordinated with manufacturers, farmers, retailers, and employers. An independent federal Energy Transition Office should track and manage the transition.
Education: Community colleges should prepare workers for new job opportunities, e.g., sustainable food production, renewable energy installation, grid rebuilding, rail expansion, public transport construction, and home energy retrofitting. Grade school curriculum should include gardening programs in all schools and increased emphasis on energy conservation.
Public Messaging & Goal Setting: Our leaders must instill in the nation a sense of collective struggle and of a long journey toward a clear goal. The success of a project of this scope will require public buy-in at every stage and level, including the use of language and images to continually underscore what is at stake, to foster a spirit of cooperation and willing sacrifice.
Business leaders, advertising agencies and even Hollywood must be enlisted, a quid pro quo for government bail out of banks and corporations. Grassroots initiatives, such as the Transition Towns movement, could lead the way toward voluntary community efforts. A sophisticated, interactive, web-based program would inspire action and provide resources. Ratepayers should get full disclosure of the specific electric generating facilities used to produce their electricity.
A series of challenging yet feasible targets should be set, with the ultimate goal—complete freedom from fossil fuel dependency — to be achieved by 2030.
D. Nuclear Issues
- The Green Party recognizes that there is no such thing as nuclear waste “disposal.” All six of the “low-level” nuclear waste dumps in the United States have leaked. There are no technological quick fixes that can effectively isolate nuclear waste from the biosphere for the duration of its hazardous life. Therefore, it is essential that generation of additional nuclear wastes be stopped.
- The Green Party calls for the early retirement of nuclear power reactors as soon as possible (in no more than five years), and for a phase-out of other technologies that use or produce nuclear waste. These technologies include non-commercial nuclear reactors, reprocessing facilities, nuclear waste incinerators, food irradiators, and all commercial and military uses of depleted uranium.
- Current methods of underground storage are a danger to present and future generations. Any nuclear waste management strategy must be based on waste containers being stored above ground and continuously monitored, and the containers must be retrievable and capable of being repackaged. All such strategies must also minimize the transportation of wastes.
- The Green Party strongly opposes any shipment of high-level nuclear waste across the U.S. to the proposed Nevada waste repository at Yucca Mountain, or any other centralized facility. The Green Party believes that this proposal is part of a move to re-fire a fast-track, commercial nuclear industry by providing a means for “safe disposal.” We deny there is such a thing as safe disposal of nuclear waste.
- We propose making spent reactor fuel and other high level wastes safer by vitrification at the site where it is produced or now stored.
- We call for cancellation of the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP), the nation’s first weapons complex nuclear dump in southern New Mexico.
- We call for independent, public-access radiation monitoring at all nuclear facilities.
- We support applicable environmental impact statements (EIS) and National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) analysis with citizen participation at all nuclear sites.
- We support an immediate and intensive campaign to educate the public about nuclear problems, including disposal, cleanup, and long-term dangers.
- We oppose the export of nuclear technologies or their wastes to other nations.
- We oppose public subsidies for nuclear power, including Price-Anderson insurance caps and stranded cost recovery bailouts. We oppose federal loan guarantees to enable the construction of a new generation of nuclear reactors.
- We oppose the development and use of new nuclear reactors, plutonium (MOX) fuel, nuclear fuel reprocessing, nuclear fusion, uranium enrichment, and the manufacturing of new plutonium pits for a new generation of nuclear weapons.
- We oppose the deregulation of radioactive materials and wastes, which is allowing such wastes to be recycled into consumer products and to enter municipal waste landfills and incinerators. We call for the strict regulation, tracking, monitoring, and recapturing of radioactive materials and wastes.
- We call on the military to clean up depleted uranium contamination from testing ranges and battlefields and to fully compensate exposed veterans and civilians who have been affected by depleted uranium exposure in the U.S. and elsewhere.
The Green Party supports a transportation policy that emphasizes the use of mass transit and alternatives to the automobile and truck for transport. We call for major public investment in mass transportation, so that such systems are cheap or free to the public and are safe, accessible, and easily understandable to first-time users. We need ecologically sound forms of transportation that minimize pollution and maximize efficiency.
Surfaces impermeable to rainwater, polluted storm run-off; paved over or polluted wetlands, the heat island effect, air pollution, and acid rain are all directly related to a transportation system run amuck.
Massive subsidies to the auto and fossil fuel industries, as well as an unworkable approach by urban planners, maintain the auto’s dominance of our cityscapes. The present-day approach of upgrading streets to accommodate increased traffic generates new traffic because access is now easier, and people will now take jobs further from their homes or purchase homes further from their jobs. Some people shift from public transit to private cars due to the trip time in cars being shorter. As patronage for public transit decreases, public transit loses funding, becomes less viable, and service deteriorates thus encouraging even more people to use their cars.
To counteract these trends and reduce auto use, the Green Party advocates the following strategies:
1. Pedestrians and Bicyclists
- Make streets, neighborhoods and commercial districts more pedestrian friendly.
- Increase the greenery of streets.
- Utilize traffic-calming methods, where the design of streets promotes safe speeds and safe interaction with pedestrians. Create auto-free zones.
- Develop extensive networks of bikeways, bicycle lanes and paths. Include bike racks on all public transit.
- Maintain free community bicycle fleets, and provide necessary support for cyclists.
2. Mass Transit
- Redirect resources that currently go to enhancing auto capacity into expanding human-scale transit options.
- Develop affordable mass transit systems that are more economical to use than private vehicles.
- Encourage employer subsidies of transit commuter tickets for employees, funded by government Congestion Management grants.
- Use existing auto infrastructure for transit expansion where possible. Light rail could be established in expressway medians through metropolitan high-density corridors.
- Include land use decisions in transportation issues, with consideration of the need for mass transit to have a market and be viable, and with attention paid to crosscommuting the practice of people commuting to a place where they could and should live.
- Expand our country’s network of rail lines, including high-speed regional passenger service.
- Transfer ownership and operation of all intercity railroad trackage currently under control of freight railroads to responsible and adequately funded public agencies, as is done with highways, to provide for efficiency and safety of all rail traffic.
3. Motor Vehicles
- Place a moratorium on highway widening, appropriating funds instead for mass transit and facilities for pedestrians and bicyclists.
- Mandate HOV (High Occupancy Vehicle) lanes on freeways, and lower tolls for carpools.
- Discourage unnecessary auto use by eliminating free parking in non-residential areas well served by mass transit, and establish preferential parking rates for HOV.
- Regularly increase Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards to levels which truly challenge automakers to improve the state of the art, using the fuel economy performance of vehicles worldwide for reference. Eliminate the distinction between cars and light trucks, the footprint loophole, the E85 loophole and the 8500-pound exemption. Eliminate the perverse incentives for alternative fuels that increase the nation’s petroleum consumption. Enact a Fee & Dividend system on the carbon content of gasoline, Diesel fuel and E85.
- Enact a fuel-economy-based Federal sales tax that creates a significant incentive for people to select more efficient vehicles, and for automakers to make them available in the United States.
- Lead by example, using government procurement to put more high-efficiency and alternative-fuel vehicles into service.
- Electrify truck stops, freight terminals and loading docks. Enact and enforce anti-idling regulations. Idling engines consume nearly a billion gallons of gasoline and Diesel fuel and emit ten million tons of carbon dioxide annually (2007 data).
- Encourage carpooling programs, telecommuting, and other creative solutions to reduce commuter traffic congestion.
- Remove the most-polluting vehicles from the road by requiring every vehicle to comply with the emission standards in effect when it was manufactured before issuing or renewing its license.
4. Air Travel
- Make airports accessible by local transit systems.
- Legislate further incremental reductions in airplane noise and air pollution.
- Emphasize the use of light and heavy rail for freight transportation.
We call for incentives to get long-distance truck hauling off of our highways and on to railways. We favor the removal of any administrative impediments to efficient long-haul freight transport by rail. Time is lost when switching goods from one railroad to another, even when the trains are the same size and gauge, and this waste can be eliminated.
E. Zero Waste: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.
Greens will shift our nation toward clean production and principles of zero waste.
A waste-free society is essential to public health and the integrity and sustainability of the biosphere. Natural ecosystems are self-sustaining and generate no waste. We humans are a part of these ecosystems, and while we obtain resources from them, we have a responsibility to return only those things that can be re-absorbed without detriment. Waste is not an inevitable part of production and consumption, as it is viewed in the current economic model.
- Phase out all avoidable production and sale of toxic metals, persistent organic pollutants, persistent bio-accumulative toxins, synthetic petrochemicals, and halogenated chemicals. Replace them with non-toxic alternatives.
- Make manufacturers responsible for the full life cycle of their products by requiring them to take back used products and packaging for remanufacturing, reuse, or recycling.
- Support and implement the precautionary principle: “When an activity raises threats of harm to human health or the environment, precautionary measures should be taken even if some cause and effect relationships are not fully established scientifically. In this context the proponent of an activity, rather than the public, should bear the burden of proof. The process of applying the precautionary principle must be open, informed and democratic and must include potentially affected parties. It must also involve an examination of the full range of alternatives, including no action.”
- Strengthen right-to-know laws so that everyone can discover what toxic or potentially toxic chemicals are used and released in their communities, and in products that they might purchase or use.
- Hold corporations strictly liable for the consequences of the pollution they produce. We support the Citizens’ Platform on Superfund, as adopted at the 1995 Comunities At Risk Superfund Summit in Washington, DC. End the use of incineration as a cleanup technology, and ensure that “cleanups” don’t simply relocate toxins to chemical waste dumps in poor communities of color.
- Shut down existing waste incinerators, impose a moratorium on new waste incinerators, and phase out landfills. For all possible waste streams, we support the following strategies (in order of priority) as alternatives to incineration and landfills: (a) toxics use reduction; (b) source reduction, reuse, clean recycling or composting /digestion; or (c) neutralization, sterilization or detoxification methods where applicable.
- Do not deregulate wastes containing toxic or radioactive contaminants significantly above background levels. They should not be allowed to be used in “beneficial use” schemes as fertilizer, “co-products,” or fuels; or by “recycling” them into consumer products (including construction materials) or disposing of them as municipal waste.
- Do not export, under any circumstances, chemicals that are prohibited in the United States. We oppose shipping of toxic, hazardous, or radioactive wastes across national borders, and the shipment of such wastes without strict regulation across any political borders. Waste should not be considered a tradable commodity under the Interstate Commerce Clause.
- Safe, secure, above ground storage for existing nuclear waste. We oppose exporting nuclear waste to other nations.
- Strict regulation of radioactive materials and wastes and prohibiting such wastes to be recycled into consumer products and to enter municipal waste landfills and incinerators.
- Close, clean up and remediate at national labs devoted to nuclear energy and weapons development and operations at the Department of Energy’s nuclear production sites.
- Clean up depleted uranium contamination from testing ranges and battlefields, and provide generously compensate veterans and civilians who have been sickened by depleted uranium exposure.
- Require independent, transparent radiation monitoring at all nuclear facilities.
- Substitute chemical safety testing on animals with alternatives that do not use animals, wherever such alternative tests or testing strategies are available.
Is there something to like from a classical liberal perspective? I found one thing in D. Nuclear Issues:
We oppose public subsidies for nuclear power, including Price-Anderson insurance caps and stranded cost recovery bailouts. We oppose federal loan guarantees to enable the construction of a new generation of nuclear reactors.
Other than this, one would hope that industrial wind turbines can join the “dirty clean energy” list. And CO2-rich fossil fuels get redefined as clean green.
via Master Resource
October 7, 2020 at 01:05AM