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Marin, Sonoma County, CA June 6, 2006 Election
Smart Voter

Joe Nation's Energy Position Paper

By Joe Nation

Candidate for United States Representative; District 6; Democratic Party

This information is provided by the candidate
The 6th Congressional District is one of the most progressive on environmental issues in the nation. We deserve an environmental leader. I have strived to lead California on environmental issues during my tenure in the state Assembly. In 2002, I successfully co-authored the first law in the country that reduces the greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global warming.
There is no single issue more significant to Congress than the development of a comprehensive, forward-looking energy policy. The lack of a national energy policy has exposed us to environmental dangers, particularly global warming, that may threaten the very existence of our planet. It exposes us daily to our dependence on foreign oil from unstable regions of the world, with dangerous and unpredictable foreign policy consequences. In the long-run, this addiction to oil will also damage our economy and make the U.S. less competitive. For these reasons, I will seek appointment to the Committee on Energy and Commerce upon my election to Congress.

A national energy policy must focus in several areas:

Reducing our dependence on fossil fuels, particularly from foreign oil Increasing greatly national fuel economy, including Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards Increasing the development of alternative, renewable energy sources and increasing by at least 300% U.S. R&D of alternative energy sources Providing financial incentives to energy users to conserve and to drive energy-efficient vehicles, and to live and work in energy-efficient homes and businesses. Reducing Our Dependence on Fossil Fuels and Foreign Oil

The United States has become dangerously dependent on fossil fuels--gasoline for our cars, and coal, gas, and oil to heat our homes and offices. We now import more than 60% of petroleum from overseas, including from unstable regions of the world. The U.S. should set a goal of reducing its dependence on fossil fuels by at least 50% and on foreign oil to near zero by the year 2025.

The question is how we achieve those goals--by government mandates or through the free market? The answer is with both.

I have recently introduced groundbreaking legislation in the state Assembly to mandate significant reductions in fossil fuel and foreign oil use in California. Assembly Bill 2185 will authorize the Air Resources Board (ARB) to set targets for the reduction of liquid fuels, like gasoline. Although the final language is subject to negotiation, AB 2185 will likely set target dates by which automobile dealers must ensure that a specified percentage of their for-sale fleets are composed of alternative fuel vehicles. Additionally, AB 2185 will require oil companies to equip a minimum number of their service stations with the ability to fuel these increased numbers and types of vehicles.

Rather than requiring mandates for specific technologies (i.e., ethanol, fuel cells, plug in hybrids, etc.), AB 2185 will set an overall target and then allows the market to find the most cost-effective solutions. In the end, this measure will reduce fossil fuel and foreign oil consumption in California, reduce air pollution and global warming, and increase the competitiveness of California's economy. I will work in Congress to follow California's lead and do the same on a national-level.

Increasing Fuel Economy for All Vehicles

The vast majority of vehicles used for personal and commercial purposes in America are subject to the lowest fuel economy standards in 20 years. This is occurring for at least two reasons.

First, contrary to some beliefs, one-half of the new vehicles purchased in 2003 (the last year for which data are available) were minivans, sport utility vehicles or light duty trucks, which are subject to the least stringent CAFE standards (20.7 mpg). Second, CAFE standards for passenger automobiles have not increased since 1990 (CAFE standards for light trucks have been only slightly-less ignored, finally increasing in 2003 for the manufacturer years 2005-2007). I will fight to close this CAFE gap and will introduce legislation to increase CAFE standards by at least 50% by 2012. In the near term, I will support efforts to develop plug-in hybrid technology, which offers the most rapid way to dramatically increase fuel economy.

There are other steps we must take to increase fuel economy. In 2003, I introduced Assembly Bill 844 to present a common sense and easy-to-implement step towards increasing the fuel economy of vehicles sold and driven in the State of California. Currently, in order to meet federal fuel economy standards, automakers routinely provide low rolling resistance tires on new vehicles. Most consumers are unaware that when they purchase replacement tires for their vehicles, the tires are marketed for their low price and longevity, but they generally have higher rolling resistance than original equipment tires, which results in a reduction in fuel economy. AB 844 authorized the California Energy Commission (CEC) to develop a program to ensure that replacement tires are at least as energy-efficient, on average, as original equipment tires. The program includes standards, labeling and a public education program so consumers can make informed decisions. AB 844 was signed into law and is now currentstate policy.

I will work in Congress to follow California's lead and implement a national tire efficiency program. Once implemented at the national level, this would over a relatively short time save more oil than exists in the entire Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR).

Increasing Renewable Energy Sources

Disappointingly, Congress recently passed the Energy Policy Act of 2005, choosing to address our reliance on foreign petroleum not by implementing minimum fuel economy standards, but by primarily authorizing exploratory oil drilling in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. (On a side note, the United States consumes approximately 22 million barrels of oil per day/approximately 8 billion barrels per year, while the United States Geological Society estimates that the mean expected value of drilling in ANWR is 10.4 billion barrels of technically recoverable oil. In short, ANWR would provide only about one year's supply of oil.) While the Energy Policy Act of 2005 also provided increased amounts of monies for research and development into alternative fuel sources, it is far too little to successfully develop alternative, renewable energy sources. I will work in Congress to increase U.S. basic R&D into alternative energy sources by at least 300%.

We should, in particular, invest much more in solar energy. Photovoltaic (PV) systems directly convert sunlight to energy. The PV technology is unique in that it is clean, produces electricity during peak times when it is needed most, and can be installed in a multitude of locations. California currently operates several subsidy programs targeted specifically at PV systems. Last year, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger proposed Senate Bill 1, and I co-authored, the Million Solar Roofs Initiative, the goal of which is to place one million solar energy systems, or 3,000 megawatts, on new or existing residential and commercial buildings by 2018. At the federal level, PV incentives include a 10% federal tax credit and accelerated depreciation. As a member of Congress, I will work to ensure that the federal subsidies offered for PV systems are expanded.

We should not limit our efforts to solar energy, despite its promises, and we should explore other cutting-edge technologies: wind power, geothermal, and even wave/tidal power, which is being pursued vigorously in Germany and other European countries. The opportunities, like many renewable sources, are almost limitless.

Increase Incentives to Energy Consumers

In addition to increased R&D for alternative energy sources, we must also provide incentives to consumers to purchase more energy efficient vehicles and to live and work in energy efficient homes and offices. As a member of Congress, I will work to expand the existing federal tax deduction for the purchase of hybrid and other alternative-fueled vehicles. I will also increase federal assistance to property owners who convert to alternative energy sources, like solar and wind power.

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