Leading from the Left

Friday, November 21, 2008

Don't Let a Good Crisis Go to Waste!

At our day long retreat on Friday November 14th, the Board of County Commissioners brainstormed a vision for energy independence in Orange County. It was an exciting conversation, brimming with good ideas and long-range goals.

We discussed energy in context of taking advantage of new economic development opportunities, creating news jobs for our citizens, and doing our part to address global climate change. The US is facing an energy crisis on two fronts: global climate change and an unhealthy dependence on foreign oil. And both are real crises. But, as in most crises, there are opportunities. As one participant said: "Why let a good crisis go to waste?!"

I couldn't agree more. Here are just a few of the potential opportunities: a) work with the community college to create training for jobs in the 'Green Economy,' b) support the creation, in co-operation with universities and private business, of new business ventures that apply green technologies, c) encourage/require energy alternatives such as wind and solar, d) explore waste-to-energy, and e) focus our Economic Development Department on creating attracting green businesses and green jobs to Orange County.

I even tossed out the notion of creating a long-range plan to take the county 'off-grid.' That that would mean is that Orange County would meet its energy needs locally. We'd do that by creating alternative energy solutions (wind, solar, geo-thermal, waste-to-energy, etc) that allow us to meet our energy needs internally. Now, it's a long range goal and many will say it's impossible to acheive. But I'd argue that it's worth a shot. We have nothing to lose. And everything to gain.

The Board's discussion about energy issues on Friday was the beginning of a conversation, not the end. No plan was formally created, but we did lay out an exciting vision for Orange County's future. Stay tuned for more.