Wednesday, March 14, 2007

An Energy Plan from the Netroots

Without going too far out on a limb, I think it may be safe to say that the world's energy problems are finally starting to sink into the public consciousness. I hear that sales of gas-guzzling SUVs are actually on the decline (yet another triumph of Detroit's product planning) and if you subscribe to Deep Throat's "follow the money" principle, you have to be at least somewhat impressed by the amount of new investment going into energy technologies.

It seems the investment community has at last acquired the scent of future profits and is now beating the bushes trying to flush them out. At this early stage, no one knows who the big winners will be, but that's life in the venture capital game.

One major source of confusion is the plethora of "energy plans" being tossed about. Indeed, energy plans are a dime a dozen, and they cover the entire spectrum from (on the right) "Drill ANWR" to (on the left) "Higher CAFE standards." But the problem with virtually all of them is that they're actually agendas dressed up as plans. The oil industry's plan starts with the assumption that we have no realistic alternative to petroleum. The Corn Belt plan argues for higher subsidies for ethanol. Then there's the "Clean Coal" plan, the biodiesel plan, and myriad others—each with its own axe to grind. The stakes are huge, and no interest group wants to be outmaneuvered in claiming its share of the spoils. We have barely begun to see the heroic lobbying and vicious infighting in the stampede to own the future.

All of this is by way of introducing something completely different: an actual citizens' energy plan that has been under development for over a year by a group of netroots activists. Called "Energize America," the plan is unique in (a) being developed entirely out in the open, and (b) not being the property of any particular industry or interest group. As such, it has the most potential for leading to a comprehensive and rational package of energy solutions of anything I've seen.

But the big news is this: awareness of Energize America has been slowly percolating into the halls of Congress, and recently, members of the EA team met with a senior member of Congress and were specifically asked to provide draft wording for bills on 10 of the 20 acts proposed by Energize America.

While the name of the Congressperson hasn't been disclosed yet, it is someone senior, and able to push bills, and thus this current process means that the online community can have a direct influence on important legislation. Imagine: citizens drafting bills instead of lobbyists!

Everyone is invited to participate in this exciting project. It has the momentum of a big, fast-spinning carousel, which can make it a bit daunting to choose the point where you want to jump on, but if you care about these issues, I can't think of a better way to get involved.

To learn more about Energize America, start here.


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