~e; Strategic .US Energy Policy

From brian carroll <human@electronetwork.org>
Date Mon, 27 Dec 2004 23:00:19 -0600
Cc Tim.Pawlenty@state.mn.us, krugman@nytimes.com

The Bill Clinton Foundation hosted an Energy Forum
Dec. 6th at New York University's Skirball Center:

“New Thinking on Energy Policy: Meeting the Challenges
of Security, Development and Climate Change”

There was an editorial in the local paper (Startribune)
which is reproduced in part below, as it is a worthwhile
starting point for a renewed call for a 'public' energy
policy that is democratic, strategic, and sustainable:


Editorial: Renewable Bill/Clinton's new politics of energy

	'While other speakers assailed President Bush's loyalty to the old 
energy economy, and his indifference to global warming, Clinton 
cautioned against "bellyaching and whining" over political realities. 
"It's time to stop worrying when if ever the current administration 
will change its mind about climate change," he said, and to start 
looking for ways to move the American mind-set forward without 
leadership from the White House.'
	'As a private citizen, Clinton is pledging to devote his considerable 
skills to leading nongovernment initiatives on American energy 
self-sufficiency, which he quite rightly describes as a more critical 
issue than most of those that got debated in the last presidential 
campaign. This is a good thing, for Bill Clinton's greatest political 
gift has always been his ability to suspend both ideology and 
politics-as-usual in favor of solutions that actually work.


I have googled for a transcript of the keynote speech
by President Clinton online, yet could not locate one.
Though reading the above story, and the following URL,
it appears that Mr. Clinton is joining in the chorus
that energy policy is too important to be politicized.

Clinton at N.Y.U. says climate on emissions must be changed

The interesting part is the do-it-yourself approach
from within the current vacuum of .US leadership to
reinvigorate energy policy. As it easily relates to
foreign policy, security, economics, health, etc...
and may be the #1 priority for decision-making which
could radically shift perspectives of current events
from one of divided worldviews to an integrated view
of how policies connect, and how to work ideas across
many policies at once, to make the large-scale changes
necessitated by the scale of energy issues of today.

Apparently the current .US president is taking a week-
long vacation after the holidays to prepare for the
inauguration speech where an agenda will be outlined.
This is already being sent out piecemeal to the press
to gauge popularity among the populace: missing from
the policy proposals has been the one that never went
forward in the first Bush term- the old energy policy
that exacerbates much of today's massive failures and
problems in strategy by replicating the industrial
models and economies of scale, when the situation has
now shifted yet policy approaches have not. The first
Bush policy never got through, after 4 years. And it
was the #1 priority of the Bush presidency and his VP
Dick Cheney who chaired the special task force (with
Ken Lay's Enron, and others) to get the job done.

It is critically important to most every issue in the
daily news cycle in one way or another, energy security,
inflation, manufacturing, trade, pollution, the weather,
education, jobs, business innovation, war in Iraq, etc.

It would be an opportunity for President Bush to go
forward with a single integrative issue that would
have the most impact short-, medium-, and long-term
by focussing not just on taxes or social security or
other bureaucratic reforms which are mainly facadal
to the underlying structural issues-- for instance,
taxes were cut, gas prices went up which in effect
is a gas tax which does not go to the government at
all, but to a mangled foreign policy misadventure.
That is, if it is considered only as a single issue.
And it is not. It is related to other dynamics such
as stability in the world, trade between countries
that import and export goods and resources. Though
energy policy literally takes most issues whether it
is a nuclear North Korea, a middle-east peace, the
potential of nuclear terrorism, Iran's peaceful rise
in relation to the balance of India and Pakistan, an
exponential growth of industrial energy consumption
by China and others, the role of oil in Africa, South
and Central America, Russia, and elsewhere as part of
existing and future dynamics. Missile Defense, the
networks reliant upon electricity in order to work,
the basis for work itself (science, technology, and
culture which needs this infrastructure to exist).
The advancement of knowledge of this condition at
the same time as a lead in understanding how it is
best developed in a changing context-- that it is of
such importance that being 'reactive' is not a good
policy when by default it is already shaping views
and policies which cannot keep up with the problems.

A single clear energy policy that is publicly based
and has a local and global component would be one
way for President Bush to take his political capital
and make it work for everyone, not just the retired
class or the rich or Republicans or whatever. It is
one policy that is capable of bringing Bush's views
back into the fold with the rest of the world while
maintaining .US autonomy with minimal hegemony (the
market/business development in global competitions).
For instance, by using energy policy to shape tax-
codes, research and development funds could be put
into special sectors or programs to help strengthen
various key areas in education, business, investment.
By addressing climate change through energy policy,
President Bush could bring the .US closer the .EU's
goals and common framework while allowing some self-
definition of the reasoning and context for actions.
By acknowledging the role of energy in the war in
Iraq, and changing .US consumer behavior through a
call to action for changes in energy consumption
and the production of more efficient and quality-
products, there is going to be less oil needed all
around the issues which does equate with blood and
oil at the level of war.

Further, working with Russia and Iran, and the .US
and .IL, the .EU could be a broker for middle-east
peace through the perspective of energy, weaponry,
and also energy development needs, nuclear waste
issues, and a balancing of forces so that nuclear
terrorism is further isolated from state affairs.
With Iran's growth in energy (for exporting oil,
it is assumed) and other countries with massive
development projects and subsequent issues (if
pollution, if nuclear waste, resource depletion,
climate change)-- these are all issues related to
energy policy-- a 21st century energy policy which
could form the basis for integrating the various
issues into one context, one culture, one world.

It is unlikely Bush would do something as radical
as break from Cheney's pigeonholing into a realm
of traditional politics and the political slaughter
of any opposition-- yet in terms of legacy the one
issue that will be the largest of these days will
be the one that is part of most every ongoing issue:
energy and .IQ, energy and 9/11, energy and economics,
energy and terrorism, energy and climate, war, etc...

Social Security reform just doesn't do it, plus it
is a strange fixation upon views of moving money
around versus moving ideas around-- a different
form of capital (a different kind of embedded-
power) in which large changes could be made to
occur, peaceably, if the momentum were to begin...

There's little reason to wish for any such changes
that the political establishment would be able to
transcend itself and, like JFK and the moonshot, to
go the distance and start a massive policy change
that would be the equivalent of an earth-event in
its impact, short-, medium-, and long-term. There
would be many peoples all over the nation and the
world ready to work with President Bush in some
reasonable center about proceeding on these goals
that are shared, and not tainted by ideological
ready-made solutions-- but instead by innovation,
cooperation, and competition to start getting it
right. Too many people have held this view and it
has gone nowhere, largely because of a lack of a
leadership to bring it to bear in the public realm.
It would be the best thing that could happen with
.US policy, it would change absolutely everything.

And it would give hope that a new day is rising.

Similar to others, I wrote a 'strategy' which is
to involve planning, architecture, and design in
these same shared goals, in  Seeing Cyberspace:

The major impediment to such a policy, as I see it,
is that there has been a philosophical blockage in
terms of energy policy, between an industrial view
of events and subsequent decision-making, and the
needs of the new context, represented by computer-
based economies, networks, etc. The former system
was organized around the power producers and the
hierarchical top-down delivery of power one-way.
The new system requires public feedback, it is
organized around the potential power of people
to be able to adapt and live innovative lives.
It is a 'democratic' power system, built by and
for people, not machines alone. And, if this same
thinking could be scaled up, it is similar to the
issues currently at work in placing where the old
industrial (authoritarian, even dictatorial) energy
regimes are actually the government, such as was
Saddam Hussein. it seems a democratic energy policy
in .IQ, decentralized and diversified, would not be
as easy for a dictatorial regime to control, oppress.


So too, boardrooms of country-club investors could
not hold back innovation in the .US for locked-in
profits into defunct energy policies which reward
stagnation, monopoly, and the crushing of invention,
innovation, and risk. A .US energy policy could be
a way to transform what is a liability (lack of a
domestic oil-producing capacity) to one of benefit
by spurring changes into the basic infrastructure,
to spread it out, build it up, and reconfigure it.

The infrastructure of the 21st century is at stake.
And its democratic (or industrialized) governance.

If President Bush were to take on energy, he would
be able to deal with several issues in one context,
and prepare for a long-term global transformation,
initiated on his watch, to set sail into the future...

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