From the Archives: Thoughts on Election Season 2012: Energy Issues
In anticipation of Election Day on November 6th, RMI staffers were asked their thoughts on the top energy issues facing the country today. Employees responded to two questions:
1. What do you feel are the most important issues (especially regarding energy policy) that we face on a national level?
2. Which energy issues do you think are most likely to be ignored during the upcoming election?
Here’s what they said:
Michael Potts, President and Chief Executive Officer
“The most important issues are the continuation of incentives for wind and solar and the decoupling of utilities to eliminate incentives for selling more electricity. These are also among the issues most likely to be ignored. Nobody is talking about climate change either—to the amazement of our European colleagues.”
Josh Agenbroad, Analyst (Industry and Transportation)
“Climate change and energy security are both very important issues. Smart incentives would allow the U.S. to become a leader. We have the innovators and a strong foundation to build from, but the market needs the right signals. The rapidly falling price of solar PV and the potential for a huge boom in solar PV installation (along with the associated job creation) will probably be ignored.”
Carrie Jordan, Multimedia and Design Associate
“I think the most important energy issue is the de-subsidization of oil and energy companies. This would help us get out of debt. It is also important to create a level playing field for renewable energy. Despite the importance of these issues, though, the de-subsidization of oil companies will probably be ignored.”
Albert Chan, Consultant (Electricity and Industry)
“There’s a strong resistance to investment in infrastructure, especially in the electricity grid and in public transportation. Because our economy and energy future are so dependent on the infrastructure we put in today, we have to be more proactive about making the smartest long-term investments. I think energy efficiency—especially in buildings—will be largely ignored. Solar and wind will likely be a target for political discussion, but even though energy efficiency is an equally important part of the solution, it does not have enough appeal for prime-time television.”
Betsy Herzog, Knowledge Manager
" I am concerned about the harmful rhetoric that is happening at a national level. Dismissing renewables as a joke or a fad is a missed opportunity. And, I doubt energy efficiency will be mentioned at all.”
Jamie Moir, Internet Marketing Manager
“One of the most important issues is the development of an integrated energy policy. Not just something that tackles one thing or another; rather, something with a clear vision of where we want to be in twenty years economically, security-wise, and environmentally. We also should be addressing climate change and how, if we succeed at the above task, we could be world industrial leaders again. Unfortunately, I think all of the above are likely to be ignored.”
Dan Seif, Senior Consultant (Electricity and Industrial)
“Global climate change and the environmental issues around fracking will both probably be ignored in the upcoming election. Another issue that likely won’t be mentioned is the fish-kill associated with power plant water intake. Even environmentalists hardly keep track of this, but the quantity of juvenile fish, eggs, and other small aquatic life killed at water intake points for thermal power plants is mind-blowingly massive (in the trillions).”
Elaine Gallagher Adams, Senior Consultant (Buildings)
“The most important issues are clean energy, environmental impacts of energy production, the elimination of energy subsidies (as they tie in to our current deficit), and the potential of big energy businesses ‘buying’ politicians. In my opinion, all of the above except clean energy probably will not be talked about in the upcoming election.”
Jesse Morris, Analyst (Transportation and Electricity)
“Two of our biggest domestic energy issues have to do with the transportation and electrical infrastructures. Our transportation infrastructure and electrical grid both have their roots in the 1930s and are in dire need of an upgrade. This need is a massive opportunity for us to invest in a smarter, more secure grid and a transportation infrastructure that relies less on building out more roads and more on software-based solutions and intelligent transportation system technology.”
Greg Rucks, Consultant (Transportation and Industry)
“The most important energy issue is the high percentage of income paid toward energy by lower-income households due to inefficient public housing. The one you can always count on being ignored is efficiency. There will be no demand-side discussion. It’ll be all about supply, and natural gas ‘burning cleaner’ (which I think is a nice evasion of the lifecycle leakage issue) than other fossil fuels.”
Regardless of your political affiliation, building a stronger economy, cleaner environment, and more secure nation are issues that we can all agree on. In Reinventing Fire, RMI shows how America’s leaders — both in the boardroom and in Washington — can accelerate our key industries along a more fortuitous energy path toward a future powered by efficiency and renewables.
Now we want to hear from you. What do you think are the most important energy issues facing our country, and are these being ignored?