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California State Government June 6, 2006 Election
Smart Voter

Energy Policy

By Kent P. Mesplay

Candidate for United States Senator; Green Party

This information is provided by the candidate
Renewable Energy strengthens our security and should be allowed to compete in the marketplace. Oil companies need no more subsidies or tax breaks by politicians who skew markets.
The price of oil is set on the Open Commodities market. The price at the pump reflects that. If any collusion exists to keep us addicted to oil and to pay dearly it comes from within our political process and not from apparently free and competitive markets. Elected officials such as Bush and Cheney are essentially shills for the petroleum industry. They and others in public office through their actions giving tax breaks to an industry that should be allowed to die gracefully (or transform into sustainable design) make it more difficult for market forces to come into play. An honest approach to assessing the true cost of Oil would include factors such as war and pollution. These costs are externalized and placed on the shoulders of tax-payers. California can and must lead the way to a sane and fair national energy policy. Oil money helped many politicians who are now an impediment to progress get to where they are today. Waiting for those in Porkopolis D.C. to solve our energy problems is to wait for disaster. The current system of campaign finance renders politicians unable to think clearly.

It is for lack of political will that we do not have solar and wind as the back-bone of all energy production in this nation. Now that policy-makers such as our governor see the light of the value in power from the sun we are closer to achieving and maintaining a security-enhancing energy policy. No new power plants need to be built once we develop the mind-set of every structure becoming its own power plant (with existing power lines as back-up, of course). The existing power grid can be reduced and stabilized through distributed generation from wind and solar sources, with biodiesel, methanol and other diversified sources reducing our risk.

Nuclear power is only one-seventh as effective at keeping carbon out of the atmosphere as is conservation and improved energy efficiency. We certainly do not need more nuclear power plants. Iran and other nations are struggling to make the same mistakes our country has made by investing in nuclear power. Wind comes out on top when judging the true cost of nuclear power and its heavy subsidy, long lead times, hours of non-operation, eventual decommissioning and disposal of toxic components: costs we bear as tax-payers. Nuclear-power-and-weapons have had their day. Iran has been working on developing nuclear power for some thirty years. It would have made more sense for Iran to design architecture with appropriate thermal inertia and to invest heavily in energy efficiency and renewable energy. A world-wide ban on all uranium enrichment would be a good thing.

For real energy security we need improved conservation so that our structures don't waste well over half of the energy they use. We also need representatives in office who will sensibly support methanol over hydrogen, more fuel-cell research and development, biodiesel based upon castor beans, and generally a more integrated, systems-oriented energy design in how we live and in what we do. An acquaintance, Jim Bell, points out how every dollar we save in the San Diego / Tijuana area by not importing energy would become another dollar available for investment in local economies. In California, those who support and take advantage of incentives to install solar panels are being patriotic and are helping us become more secure. I inspected a large facility having, in addition to other air-quality-affecting equipment, a diesel-powered emergency generator. When I asked where the generator disappeared to, the site contact pointed upwards and said, "it's on the roof in the form of solar panels," regularly providing seasonal power. The investment made good economic sense to the company, what with rising energy costs.

As a graphic depiction of the worth of photo-voltaics (p.v.), a solar array 100 miles on each side, situated in the Mojave desert could produce all the energy that we currently sloppily use in our nation. Not that we would want to "put all our eggs in one basket," ruin a desert and lose to transmission line losses, but the point is that we have the technology to phase out the petroleum industry even faster than it may want to have happen. I accept that I may never get into public office (whew!). I want an improved political process that allows good candidates to run so that we have public officials who treat science with respect and who actually work to make us more secure rather than catering to their favorite businesses.

We "vote" with our dollars every day. I encourage those whose finances allow consideration of installing P.V. panels to carry through and to do so, especially because of the California Solar Roofs Bill, S.B. 1. Not only does solar energy benefit the individual or business, but an eventual distributed grid of power generation makes us more secure when the umbilical cords of power lines and gas lines are severed. During our next major power outage more people will have time to reflect upon this.

Energy matters. So does voting. Register Green. Vote Mesplay.

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