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Barack Obama Reverses Campaign Promise and Approves Offshore Drilling
President allows oil and gas exploration off several coastal areas to horsetrade with Republicans over climate change bills
By Suzanne Goldenberg | Guardian UK
Barack Obama took the Republican slogan "drill, baby, drill" as his own today, opening up over 500,000 square miles of US coastal waters to oil and gas exploitation for the first time in over 20 years.
The move, a reversal of Obama's early campaign promise to retain a ban on offshore exploration, appeared aimed at winning support from Republicans in Congress for new laws to tackle global warming. Sarah Palin's "Drill, baby, drill" slogan was a prominent battle cry in the 2008 elections.
The areas opened up are off the Atlantic coast, the northern coast of Alaska and in the eastern Gulf of Mexico. However, in a concession to his environmentalist base, Obama did retain protection for Alaska's Bristol Bay, the single largest source of seafood in America and home to endangered species of whale. The Pacific Coast from Mexico to Canada is also off-limits.
Obama said the decision to allow oil rigs off the Atlantic coast was a painful one, but that it would help reduce US dependence on imported oil.
"This is not a decision that I've made lightly," the president said. "But the bottom line is this: given our energy needs, in order to sustain economic growth, produce jobs, and keep our businesses competitive, we're going to need to harness traditional sources of fuel even as we ramp up production of new sources of renewable, homegrown energy." Read more.
From TomDispatch this morning: An unprecedented picture of China on one of history's great spending binges in search of access to, and control over, the world's key future energy and other resources -- "China's Global Shopping Spree: Is the World's Future Resource Map Tilting East?"
"Think of it as a tale of two countries," begins energy expert and author of Rising Powers, Shrinking Planet Michael Klare. "When it comes to procuring the resources that make industrial societies run, China is now the shopaholic of planet Earth, while the United States is staying at home. Hard-hit by the global recession, the United States has experienced a marked decline in the consumption of oil and other key industrial materials. Not so China. With the recession’s crippling effects expected to linger in the U.S. for many years, analysts foresee a slow recovery when it comes to resource consumption. Not so China."
TomDispatch regular Klare offers a picture of state-owned or state-backed Chinese companies ranging the world gobbling up the key future energy and other resources crucial to an industrial society, and at recession-induced bargain-basement prices. Backed with endless streams of cash, these companies are, in the field of oil alone, making deals from Kazakhistan in Central Asia to Ecuador in Latin America, Iraq to Venezuela, Burma to the African country of Guinea.
It's a remarkable, even shopaholic burst of buying of a sort we haven't seen in our lifetimes. As Klare concludes in this must-read piece: "Perhaps more than any other recent developments, China’s global shopping spree reveals how the world’s balance of power is shifting from West to East." Read it now.
Obama to Open Offshore Areas to Oil Drilling for First Time
By John M. Broder | NY Times
The Obama administration is proposing to open vast expanses of water along the Atlantic coastline, the eastern Gulf of Mexico and the north coast of Alaska to oil and natural gas drilling, much of it for the first time, officials said Tuesday.
The proposal — a compromise that will please oil companies and domestic drilling advocates but anger some residents of affected states and many environmental organizations — would end a longstanding moratorium on oil exploration along the East Coast from the northern tip of Delaware to the central coast of Florida, covering 167 million acres of ocean.
Under the plan, the coastline from New Jersey northward would remain closed to all oil and gas activity. So would the Pacific Coast, from Mexico to the Canadian border.
The environmentally sensitive Bristol Bay in southwestern Alaska would be protected and no drilling would be allowed under the plan, officials said. But large tracts in the Chukchi Sea and Beaufort Sea in the Arctic Ocean north of Alaska — nearly 130 million acres — would be eligible for exploration and drilling after extensive studies. Read more.
As multinational military forces have left Iraq, international petroleum companies have eagerly descended — seduced by the long-term potential of vast oil reserves off-limits to foreigners for decades. Yet lingering violence, legal questions and political uncertainty make doing business in this country a gamble.
In the first international oil auction held last June, widely seen as a failure, the Iraqi government awarded a firm contract to only a consortium of British Petroleum and the China National Petroleum Co. to further develop the Rumaila field over 20 years. Iraq recently forged an initial agreement with a group comprising Exxon Mobil and Royal Dutch Shell to develop the West Qurna field, and one with an ENI-led consortium of Occidental Petroleum and Korea Gas for the Zubair oil field.
Under ratified deals, firms stand to gain a mere $2 profit on each barrel added to production because the Iraqi government wants to convey "they’re not going to let the oil companies take over," said Robert Ebel, a senior adviser in the energy and national security program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), a Washington-based think tank. Read more.
The Labour government will unveil a 2 billion pound ($3 billion) "green" investment bank in Wednesday's budget to help Britain's transformation to a low carbon economy, a government source said on Sunday.
Finance minister Alistair Darling has said there will be no pre-election giveaways in the budget, with polling day expected on May 6, but he wants more investment to encourage future sources of economic growth after an 18-month recession.
The green bank, designed to help finance projects such as railways, offshore wind power generation and eco-friendly waste management, will be half-funded from government asset sales with the remaining one billion pounds coming from the private sector.
"The high risk profile of these investments, which are in new and unproven technologies means an initial government investment is needed to draw in investors," the source said.
"By providing an initial investment of government capital it will reduce the risk profile for investors and increase the incentive for the private sector to enter the market at the scale and pace needed." Read more.
The United States has asked Israel to check the possibility of pumping oil from Iraq to the oil refineries in Haifa. The request came in a telegram last week from a senior Pentagon official to a top Foreign Ministry official in Jerusalem.
The Prime Minister's Office, which views the pipeline to Haifa as a "bonus" the U.S. could give to Israel in return for its unequivocal support for the American-led campaign in Iraq, had asked the Americans for the official telegram.
The new pipeline would take oil from the Kirkuk area, where some 40 percent of Iraqi oil is produced, and transport it via Mosul, and then across Jordan to Israel. The U.S. telegram included a request for a cost estimate for repairing the Mosul-Haifa pipeline that was in use prior to 1948. During the War of Independence, the Iraqis stopped the flow of oil to Haifa and the pipeline fell into disrepair over the years.
The National Infrastructure Ministry has recently conducted research indicating that construction of a 42-inch diameter pipeline between Kirkuk and Haifa would cost about $400,000 per kilometer. The old Mosul-Haifa pipeline was only 8 inches in diameter.
National Infrastructure Minister Yosef Paritzky said yesterday that the port of Haifa is an attractive destination for Iraqi oil and that he plans to discuss this matter with the U.S. secretary of energy during his planned visit to Washington next month. Paritzky added that the plan depends on Jordan's consent and that Jordan would receive a transit fee for allowing the oil to piped through its territory. The minister noted, however, that "due to pan-Arab concerns, it will be hard for the Jordanians to agree to the flow of Iraqi oil via Jordan and Israel." Read more.
United for Peace of Pierce County published alarming news of US military preparations for an attack on Iran's nuclear facilities.
Scotland's Sunday Herald published "Final Destination Iran" reporting that "Hundreds of powerful U.S. 'bunker-buster' bombs are being shipped from California to the British island of Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean in preparation for a possible attack on Iran." -- "Contract details for the shipment to Diego Garcia were posted on an international tenders’ website by the U.S. Navy," Rob Edwards said. -- "A shipping company based in Florida, Superior Maritime Services, will be paid $699,500 to carry many thousands of military items from Concord, California, to Diego Garcia. -- Crucially, the cargo includes 195 smart, guided, Blu-110 bombs and 192 massive 2000lb Blu-117 bombs. -- 'They are gearing up totally for the destruction of Iran,' said Dan Plesch, director of the Centre for International Studies and Diplomacy at the University of London, co-author of a recent study on US preparations for an attack on Iran." -- Iran's Press TV summarized the report on Monday but added no new information. ...
Wind turbines that can be seen slicing the sky above rural Minnesota were manufactured more than 6,000 miles away by a Chinese company. They're helping to power the nearby town of Pipestone.
"The wind is blowing nearly all the time," said Pipestone resident Elmer Stoltenberg. "We should take advantage of that."
In New Jersey, one Rutgers University campus gets 10 percent of its energy from 7,000 solar panels also made by a Chinese company.
China has a dirty reputation as the world's factory, but its emerging green energy sector is threatening to leave the United States in its dust. Read more.
Iraq sits atop 115 billion barrels of crude, the world's third largest proven reserves of conventional crude oil. But current production of about 2.4 million barrels per day remains well below levels before the 2003 U.S.-led invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein.
Al-Maliki's government has vowed, based on developers' promises, to raise output to more than 12 million barrels a day within six to seven years. The production increase would translate into hundreds of billions of dollars in sorely needed revenue for a government that relies on crude sales for 95 percent of its revenues.
Backed by armed bodyguards, international oil executives have flocked to this southern Iraqi city to survey their potentially lucrative prizes: the fields that they hope will one day be pumping out dramatically greater amounts of cheap, plentiful crude.
For their companies, the fields that they won the rights to develop in two biddings rounds last year are their first foray into Iraq's oil sector in over three decades.
For Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, the executives and their investments are a vital part of his bid to win a second term in March 7 elections. Al-Maliki has billed himself to voters as the leader that can ensure the development of Iraq's dilapidated oil sector and bring in billions of dollars to rebuild the country's struggling economy. Read more.
Iraq Opening to BP, Exxon Mobil, Shell for First Time Since 1972
By Anthony DiPaola and Daniel Williams | Bloomberg
BP Plc and Exxon Mobil Corp. took the best deal they could get in Iraq last year when they won the largest oil contracts since Saddam Hussein was toppled in 2003. Oil companies may wait a long time to get a better one.
Parliamentary elections may produce a weak or unstable government incapable of tendering new oil contracts, said Samuel Ciszuk, a London-based analyst at IHS Global Insight. He said he does expect the 10 technical-services contracts won by Exxon, BP and 20 other companies to be honored.
“One thing that’s fairly certain is there won’t be a strong coalition, so it may take time for the next government to get its act together,” Ciszuk said in a telephone interview. “Bottlenecks could hold up production increases” if no government forms by June.
Western producers haven’t had access to oil fields in southern Iraq since 1972, when the country nationalized production including concessions owned by the companies now known as BP, Royal Dutch Shell Plc and Exxon.
The contracts awarded in two auctions, which pay a per- barrel fee for development work rather than granting a share in the production itself, will cost the companies a total of about $100 billion to develop deposits, Oil Minister Hussain al- Shahristani said in December. Iraq, with the world’s third- largest oil reserves, will earn about $200 billion a year. Read more.
Iraq Opens Up to Foreign Oil Majors
Western producers like BP, Exxon Mobil, and Shell are enjoying their best access to Iraq's southern oil fields since 1972, but a weaker government could be on the way
By Anthony DiPaola and Daniel Williams | Business Week
BP Plc and Exxon Mobil Corp. took the best deal they could get in Iraq last year when they won the largest oil contracts since addam Hussein was toppled in 2003. Oil companies may wait a long time to get a better one.
Parliamentary elections may produce a weak or unstable government incapable of tendering new oil contracts, said Samuel Ciszuk, a London-based analyst at IHS Global Insight. He said he does expect the 10 technical-services contracts won by Exxon, BP and 20 other companies to be honored.
"One thing that's fairly certain is there won't be a strong coalition, so it may take time for the next government to get its act together," Ciszuk said in a telephone interview....
The contracts awarded in two auctions, which pay a per-barrel fee for development work rather than granting a share in the production itself, will cost the companies a total of about $100 billion to develop deposits, Oil Minister Hussain al-Shahristani said in December. Iraq, with the world's third-largest oil reserves, will earn about $200 billion a year....
U.S. troop levels will fall to 50,000 from the current 97,000 by August of this year, according to a schedule laid out by President Barack Obama in February 2009. All troops will leave by the end of 2011 under an agreement with the Iraqi government reached by President George W. Bush....Read more.
VoteVets' goal is to focus attention to the argument that energy dependence is a pending (if not already occurring) national security crisis. And, in that regard, the spot should be considered a blunt instrument for making the argument - elevating veterans and drawing terrorism into the heart of the energy debate.
The spot will air in the following states: Alaska, Indiana, Maine, Montana, Missouri, North Dakota, Virginia, and West Virginia, all of which house critical Senate votes.
PETER WHITE CALLS FOR INDEPENDENT INVESTIGATION OF BIG OIL AND FOREIGN POLICY | www.peterwhiteindependent4congress.com
Independent candidate for Congress (MA 10th District) Peter White is calling for an independent investigation of the influence that the oil companies have over the Foreign Policy of the United States.
"House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has stated publically that the oil companies RULE Congress, and they have made record high profits because of the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan," says White. "Big OIL is now taking almost 3 million barrels of oil a day out of Iraq, and they plan to build a pipeline through Afghanistan to access the fossil fuel deposits in Central Asia - that's why Obama's troop surge is taking place."
White first ran for Congress in 2006, when he called for the impeachment of Bush/Cheney and an end to the War for OIL. He is also a renewable energy advocate who feels that the oil companies and energy monopolies are holding back the development of clean, alternative energy sources that will lead to an end of American oil imports.
"Calvin Coolidge said that the business of America is business, but it's time to change that to peace, jobs, human needs, and environmental wisdom," White said. "The truth will set us free from the dominance of greedy, destructive, murderous oil companies!"
The Environmental Activists of Climate Ground Zero and Mountain Justice Stand Up to Big Coal in West Virginia
In the hills and hollers of southern West Virginia, a protest movement for environmental justice, social justice and human rights has arisen in the recent past that is having tremendous success. Arrayed against this movement is the multi-billion-dollar coal industry that owns the government of the State of West Virginia. Stepping into the breach with calls for an end to mountainop removal coal extraction are two groups that practice civil disobedience on behalf of the environment: Climate Ground Zero (CGZ) and Mountain Justice (MJ). Comprised of volunteers, these organizations have peacefully protested coal company practices that run a real risk of bringing death, dismemberment, horror and mainfold tragedy to thousands of people in southern West Virginia's Coal River Valley.
“Peaceful” doesn't mean “ineffectual,” however, and the actions of CGZ and MJ have, forced the "Coal Mob" to tip its hand by engaging in the same sort of ham-fisted tactics that have always been coal's stock-in-trade. Using the bought-and-paid-for West Virginia justice system, peaceful protesters arrested for trespass and the like have been subjected to merciless cash bails that have literally kept them behind bars while alleged child molesters have walked free on bond. They have been threatened with death, assaulted and terrorized. In the face of it all, they have not flinched.
John Jonik sent the following information:
Here's one link to info on where to send Public Comments to stop the Fracking for Natural Gas in Pennsylvania public and private lands, and the theft of our water, the threats to the Delaware River, the poisoning of our water, the pollution and environmental damage from trucks, and so forth.
Sierra Club isn't exactly the strongest ally in any natural lands defense, but the info is here anyway.
For very thorough coverage of the situation, Google up University City Press Review articles here.
Look up plenty of other articles on the topic there.
By Charlotte Dennett
A driving snowstorm could not keep Vermonters away from the statehouse in Montpelier yesterday as the Vermont Senate convened a historic debate and then voted on the future of the state’s aging nuclear power plant. Some 1300 people – most of them standing before live video coverage outside the small, overcrowded Senate chamber -- listened to several hours of respectful debate that even included the proposition of building a new nuclear power plant in Vermont as per President Obama’s pro-nuclear agenda. But when it was all over, senators from both parties resoundingly voted against a last-minute amendment for a new plant to replace the old one, and similarly defeated re-licensure of Vermont Yankee in 2012 by a vote of 26 to 4. Amidst cheers, clapping and hugs from the victors, it was clearly another Vermont moment for a state that prides itself on being cutting edge on social, political and environmental issues. As the only state in the nation that by statute allows its legislature to decide whether to re-license a nuclear power plant, the vote is likely to have wide-reaching ramifications, including for residents of Massachusetts who live near the Vermont Yankee plant.
Avatar: The Prequel
Will Earth’s Last Stand Sweep the 2013 Oscars?
By Michael T. Klare | Tom Dispatch
From TomDispatch this afternoon: looking beyond Oscar week, Michael Klare, author of Resource Wars, suggests to James Cameron what his next Avatar film should be, a 2144 prequel set on a resource-ravaged planet Earth -- Michael Klare, "Avatar: The Prequel, Will Earth's Last Stand Sweep the 2013 Oscar's"
For his latest post directed toward the upcoming Academy Awards, Michael T. Klare, our premier scholar of "resource wars," offers himself to director James Cameron as a "technical consultant" on the next Avatar film which, he suggests, should be a prequel set on planet Earth in 2144 (a decade before the present Avatar begins). It would be, he writes, "a Pandora-style, sensory-expanding guided tour of our own planet... part of a harrowing tale of environmental degradation, resource scarcity, and perennial conflict in the twilight years of humanity’s decline. Think of it as Avatar: Earth’s Last Stand."
Klare's suggestion is based on hints already embedded in the global smash hit now in 3-D movie theaters across the planet: according to Avatar, Jake Scully, the renegade Marine who joins the Na'vi, previously served in "the First Marine Reconnaissance unit" on three combat tours in Venezuela (where he evidently got his spinal injury) and his commander on Pandora, Colonel Quaritch, fought in Nigeria. Both, Klare points out, are embattled oil-rich countries which may still have energy reserves deep into the twenty-second century.
Drawing on his "resource wars" expertise -- the phrase "resource wars" was the title of his pathbreaking 2001 book -- Klare paints for Cameron a picture of our energy-starved, ravaged world of 2144, so that you understand just why giant mining companies would set off for Pandora in search of "unobtanium."
Klare's latest post offers an initially light-hearted, but striking way of outlining our environmental and energy dilemmas a century-plus down the line. His piece suggests the next step after Avatar and is a splendid political prequel to the upcoming Academy Awards ceremony. He concludes: "It’s not that hard to imagine just such a future world if we continue on our present course toward ever greater resource consumption, increased carbon emissions, and the militarization of resource dependency. Can you doubt that the movie Cameron and I would make, Avatar: Earth’s Last Stand, would be both gripping and spectacular? It would be an amazing, if tension-producing place to visit in 3-D. Here’s the only catch: you wouldn’t want to live there." Read it!
I’ll have more on Maureen Mahoney’s first response on behalf of Jay Bybee to the OPR report later today. But I wanted to draw attention to a footnote she includes to–apparently–explain that Jay Bybee was a very busy man at the time when he was supposed to be overseeing John Yoo’s attempts to legalize torture in the summer of 2002. (This is on PDF page 19)
Judge Bybee’s role in reviewing the memo began in earnest around mid-July, roughly two weeks before he signed them.5
5 During the summer of 2002, in addition to his work on national security issues, Judge Bybee, as head of OLC, was also heavily involved in a number of other difficult and pressing legal matters. Of particular note, Judge Bybee was engaged in the district court litigation in Walker v. Cheney, No. 02-340 (DD.C.). Read more.
by Marcy Winograd
Imagine if in 2010 we did not spend one more borrowed penny to manufacture new weapons, occupy new lands, or recruit new mercenaries. Going cold turkey on military spending would wipe out nearly $1 trillion of our 1.6 trillion dollar deficit. A year and a half of war & weapons abstinence could erase our debt entirely.
Unfortunately, America is addicted to war and to debt. Fortunately, we can work together to kick the perpetual war and debt habit.
Greens Call President Obama's Resurrection Of Nuclear Power And Handout For Georgia Nuclear Reactors His "Worst Idea Yet"
WASHINGTON, DC -- Green Party leaders and candidates are calling President Obama's resurrection of nuclear power with a multi-billion-dollar taxpayer-funded subsidy for a Georgia plant his "worst idea yet" and warned about serious public health threats posed by mining, waste transportation, and waste storage. The Green Party disputes the myths that nuclear power is 'green energy' or a solution to the advance of climate change.
"The twin nuclear reactors in Burke County, Georgia, would be financed with $5.4 billion in loans from the Federal Financing Bank with money of the US Treasury. According to the GAO, this investment has a 50/50 percent or worse chance of failing. President Obama wants taxpayers to assume 80% of the financial risk to turn the southeast Atlantic states into a big open-pit radioactive barbeque. This investment is a terrible idea -- President Obama's worst yet," said Lisa Green, Green candidate for California Assembly Candidate, 53rd Assembly District.
"If built, the plant will be a financial disaster because of high construction expenses and likely cost overruns, compared with other sources of electrical power. As the first of a new generation of nuclear power plants, it'll carry huge technical risks. Even more ominous is the problem of mining, waste storage, and waste transportation through populated areas, which carry huge public health dangers," added Ms. Green.
Greens noted that, in the US, more people have died from contamination from uranium mining, from causes such as water sources polluted by mine tailings, and from uranium transportation than from all the causes after materials reach the first processing plant (see here and here). Energy Secretary Steven Chu recently told a Senate committee that, for the foreseeable future, the plants will probably store spent fuel rods on site. No long-term plan exists anywhere for storing commercial radioactive waste.
They will also support numerous treaties, including the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and the proposed treaty to ban the production of nuclear materials for weapons.
ScienceDaily (Feb. 19, 2010) — The American Physical Society (APS), the world's leading organization of physicists, has released a report identifying technical steps that will help the U.S. achieve its goals to downsize the nuclear arsenal, prevent the spread of atomic bombs and keep the stockpile safe and secure.
Vice President Joe Biden outlined those objectives during a speech in Washington, D.C., and the APS report, Technical Steps to Support Nuclear Downsizing, provides concrete steps -- including the use of nuclear archaeology to validate nations' production of atomic material -- that will help the nation accomplish its goals.
By David Rovics
In a country with the kind of tumultuous history that Ireland has it's not surprising that a man being arrested and jailed for seven months would escape the notice of the media, at least outside of Ireland. What should hopefully pique some interest is that this is a man with a long history of being bullied, intimidated, arrested and treated roughly by the authorities for his nonviolent resistance against Shell Oil's construction of a gas pipeline, and now the judge is calling him a bully and jailing him for seven months on the extremely dubious charge of intimidating an officer.
To be sure, this is not Nigeria, where Shell regularly massacres those opposed to the oil drilling which is destroying the environment and the livelihoods of so much of the population. Shell doesn't run Ireland in the way it controls Nigeria. But at the same time, much like my own country, the Irish government has proven itself to be far from free of corruption.
Haiti Is Open for Business
By Stephen Lendman
In December 1984, Canada's conservative prime minister, Brian Mulroney, told the New York Economic Club that "Canada is open for business," meaning US companies were welcome, the two countries would work for greater economic integration, America's sovereignty took precedence of his own, and corporate interests from both countries could operate freely at the expense of most Canadians.
That's always been Haiti's curse, now more than ever. Under American militarized control, Haiti is occupied for profit, its pseudo government largely invisible, and predators aim to cash in to the fullest. On January 21, in his article titled, "Securing disaster in Haiti," Peter Hallward explained, saying:
"....the US-led relief operation has conformed to the three fundamental tendencies that have shaped the more general course of the island's recent history. It has adopted military priorities and strategies. It has sidelined Haiti's own leaders and government, and ignored the needs of the majority of its people. And it has proceeded in ways that reinforce the already harrowing gap between rich and poor. All three tendencies aren't just connected, they are mutually reinforcing. (They'll also) govern the imminent reconstruction effort as well, unless determined political action is taken to counteract them."
ScienceDaily (Feb. 15, 2010) — Despite good intentions, the push to privatize government functions and insistence upon "free trade" that is too often unfair has caused declining food production, increased poverty and a hunger crisis for millions of people in many African nations, researchers conclude in a new study.
Market reforms that began in the mid-1980s and were supposed to aid economic growth have actually backfired in some of the poorest nations in the world, and just in recent years led to multiple food riots, scientists report Feb 15 in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
ScienceDaily (Feb. 15, 2010) — RTI International has developed a revolutionary lighting technology that is more energy efficient than the common incandescent light bulb and does not contain mercury, making it environmentally safer than the compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulb.
Sanders Introduces Major Solar Energy Initiative | Press Release
WASHINGTON, February 4 – Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), chairman of the Senate’s green jobs subcommittee, today introduced legislation with nine cosponsors to encourage the installation of 10 million solar systems on the rooftops of homes and businesses over the next decade.
“At a time when we spend $350 billion importing oil from Saudi Arabia and other countries every year, the United States must move away from foreign oil to energy independence,” Sanders said. “A dramatic expansion of solar power is a clean and economical way to help break our dependence on foreign oil, reduce greenhouse gas emissions that cause global warming, improve our geopolitical position, and create good-paying green jobs.”
At a Senate committee hearing today, Sanders questioned Energy Secretary Steven Chu about President Obama’s budget for next year. The White House requested $2.4 billion for energy efficiency and renewable energy programs. The requested 5 percent boost overall included a 22 percent increase for solar power.
The potential for solar power also was the subject of testimony last week before Sanders’ green jobs subcommittee by Jeff Wolfe, chief executive officer of groSolar in White River Junction, Vt. Wolfe said Sanders’ bill “would help homeowners and small businesses stabilize their energy costs.”
Sanders’ bill would authorize rebates which, along with other incentives, would cover up to half the cost of the 10 million solar power systems and 200,000 water heating systems. Non-profit groups and state and local governments also would be eligible. The legislation would ensure that participating homeowners and businesses also receive information on incentives to improve energy efficiency.
Sanders said a recent report shows that solar power could help make every state more energy independent if solar units were installed on available rooftop space, because every state can meet 10 percent or more of its electricity needs just through rooftop solar. Moreover, because solar energy creates more jobs per megawatt than other energy sources. Sanders’ bill could create hundreds of thousands of jobs over the next ten years in the solar industry.
The legislation’s cosponsors include Environment and Public Works Committee Chairman Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and Sens. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.), Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Arlen Specter (D-Pa.).
Sanders’ measure is patterned after successful state programs promoting solar energy in New Jersey and California, where prices have fallen as the number of solar units increased.
To read a copy of the bill, click here.