Leading from the Left

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Energy Plan for Earth Day

With Earth Day approaching (Saturday), I decided now would be a good time to release my energy proposal. With energy costs continuing to climb and continued worries about air quality and climate change, it seems appropriate that all of us--individuals, units of government, businesses--need to evaluate energy usage. We're all going to have to seek ways to reduce costs, create effeciency, and use more renewable energy rather than non-renewable sources.

Here's my Energy Proposal....

Orange County Energy Policy

Vision. Orange County can do our share to reduce dependence on foreign oil, to reduce air pollution, and to reduce the emission of green house gases that contribute to global climate change. While we are a relatively small county, we are looked to for leadership in North Carolina. By taking a lead on energy issues, Orange County once again can set a high bar.

Goals. This proposal has three goals.

A. Reduce cost to the tax payer by reducing the county’s energy consumption
B. Reduce emissions of air pollutants such as green house gases
C. Reduce our dependency on foreign oil

Proposal. For the county to develop a comprehensive energy policy that addresses conservation, cost savings and reduction of emissions. An energy plan should address issues such as efficient building standards, using renewable fuels such as bio-diesel, capturing methane gas at the landfill for use as an energy source, and creating more access to public transit throughout the county.

Fighting Global Warming

Orange County can do our part and take the lead in North Carolina in the fight against global warming. We have a responsibility to leave our world a better place for future generations. Part of this commitment is doing our part to minimize our impact on global climate change. With our national leaders failing to take action, we must act locally. Here are some actions we can take at the county level:

∑ Establish official county goals to monitor and exceed the Kyoto standards for per-person carbon emissions by 2012
∑ Launch a county-wide public awareness campaign to reduce personal and business energy use via such steps as purchasing efficient lighting and appliances
∑ Mandate that new county vehicles utilize hybrid, flex-fuel, or other green technologies
∑ Work with employers in Orange County to provide incentives for employee car- and van-pooling, public transit use, and telecommuting
∑ Partner with local biodiesel manufacturers/co-ops (such as Piedmont Biofuels) to generate enough biodiesel to operate public vehicles in the county like school and public transit buses

Energy Sustainability

One of the great challenges of the 21st Century will be curbing our appetite for many of the earth’s limited natural resources. Oil. Natural gas. Even clean water. All are threatened by excess consumption if we do not take appropriate actions toward a sustainable future. Other energy resources, such as coal, are still plentiful but have deleterious effects on the health of our environment and ourselves. To make matters worse, many of the largest reserves of oil and natural gas left in the world are under the control of some of the worst abusers of human rights. The global community’s addiction to these resources will only serve to profit and strengthen the leaders of such places as Iran, Syria, and the Sudan. While this is a global problem, it is not without local solutions, and we in Orange County can do our part through a combination of conservation and renewable energy:

∑ Increase pedestrian and cyclist travel opportunities by planning walkable communities, expanding our greenway system, adding more bike lanes, and bridging gaps in sidewalks
∑ Establish standards for new or renovated homes that conform to LEED or other efficiency standards or incorporate renewable energy technologies such as solar cells, concentrating solar power, wind turbines, etc.
∑ Adopt LEED-NC v2.2 building standard for new public buildings
∑ Regulate heating and cooling settings in government buildings to lower energy use and costs
∑ Closely monitor utility bills of government buildings
∑ Install efficient lighting in government buildings
∑ Partner with non-profit organizations such as NC GreenPower to promote public and private investment in renewable energy projects within North Carolina.
∑ Pursue practical methods for utilizing methane gas from the Orange County Landfill to generate electricity