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Ned Farquhar’s Blog

Western economy will benefit - maybe not the fossil energy industry...

Ned Farquhar

Posted February 17, 2009

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From a press release distributed Friday, February 13, I learned that the Western Business Roundtable will today release a report that is "highly critical" of the Western Climate Initiative. (I blogged on it in September 2008 - it's a seven-state program to reduce climate-changing emissions.)

"Highly critical" is sharp terminology. I wonder if the WBRT is...

...highly critical of creating new jobs? Wind jobs now exceed coal jobs -- and coal provides 50% of the nation's energy while wind is around 5%. More jobs per unit of energy -- that's a good thought in today's economy. This nation's economic future lies in energy efficiency, bringing petrodollars home, and emissions reduction.

...highly critical of saving money? California's energy efficiency program has kept per capita energy consumption flat since 1975, while the rest of the U.S. increased 60%. That translates into a net savings of $56 billion for California consumers -- businesses, schools, households, hospitals -- from 1975 to 2005. Almost $2 billion per year!

...highly critical of hugely reducing health, wildfire, and energy costs by 2020? A University of Oregon team has just released reports on how the Western Climate Initiative saves large amounts of taxpayer and consumer money in several participating states (WA, OR, NM). See the New Mexico report here.

...highly critical of leading the new energy economy? In 2006 the Western Governors' Association projected/a> that western states could lead U.S. energy finance, technology, and innovation while producing world-class solar, wind and geothermal energy.

...highly critical of increasing productivity and growth in western states? A recent analysis of Montana's economic growth shows how renewables and efficiency contribute more to the state's economy than do traditional fossil energy industries.

...highly critical of protecting precious western water supplies? Scientists agree: the West is already experiencing serious climate change impacts. And drought, catastrophic wildfire, sea level rise are only more and more likely to increase. The cost of addressing these impacts will be far larger than the cost of modifying energy practices and reducing emissions.

Jobs, savings, economic leadership, water for our children's future -- these aren't talking points. They are bread and butter, meat and potatoes, opportunity and prosperity, security and public health. We can make electricity, profitably and plentifully, without clogging the atmosphere with carbon.

The West remains a place of optimism, beauty, and a future brighter than its past. In April, NRDC will issue a report indicating that the Western Climate Initiative improves the region's gross domestic product, making it a more efficient and self-reliant economy, less vulnerable to world energy price swings, and providing economic and environmental benefits throughout the region. Stay tuned. I'm 99% certain the WBRT will be more than "highly critical"!

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Sherry JanFeb 17 2009 06:19 PM

There could be no better investment in America than to invest in America becoming energy independent! We need to utilize everything in out power to reduce our dependence on foreign oil including using our own natural resources. Create cheap clean energy, new badly needed green jobs, and reduce our dependence on foreign oil. The high cost of fuel this past year seriously damaged our economy and society. The cost of fuel effects every facet of consumer goods from production to shipping costs. After a brief reprieve gas is inching back up. OPEC will continue to cut production until they achieve their desired 80-100. per barrel. If all gasoline cars, trucks, and SUV's instead had plug-in electric drive trains, the amount of electricity needed to replace gasoline is about equal to the estimated wind energy potential of the state of North Dakota. There is a really good new book out by Jeff Wilson called The Manhattan Project of 2009

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