Edwards’ ‘Aggressive’ Energy Plan

Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards today is putting forth what he is calling an “aggressive but achievable” energy plan, elements of which mirror the kind of bold energy initiative that the Apollo Alliance has been urging presidential candidates to adopt.

Edwards introduced the broad outlines of his plan on CNN this morning and was scheduled to unveil the details  in an afternoon address at the Biomass Energy Conversion Center in Nevada, Iowa. His proposal combines clean energy production and conservation, with a goal of reducing carbon dioxide emissions by 80 percent by 2050. Specifically, Edwards proposes:

  • Capping greenhouse gas pollution starting in 2010 with a cap-and-trade system.
  • Marshalling global cooperation in signing a new climate treaty that commits other countries—including developing nations—to reducing their pollution. In conju7nction with this treaty, Edwards would offer to share new clean energy technology with developing countries and, if necessary, use trade agreements to require binding greenhouse reductions.
  • Creating a New Energy Economy Fund that would support research and development initiatives, paid for by auctioning off $10 billion in greenhouse pollution permits and repealing subsidies for big oil companies.
  • Offset the demand for more electricity through efficiency savings during the next decade, instead of seeking to build more power plants.

Edwards said that by creating markets for renewable energy, energy efficiency and advanced low- and no-emission vehicles, his plan could create 1 million new jobs. “If we do this the right way we can not only address global warming and climate change, but we can transform the American economy,” he said on CNN.

The Apollo Alliance applauds the focus of the Edwards plan on economic development. By providing the right framework, we can ensure that our investment in the environment is also an investment in the workforce. What this proposal contributes to the policy debate is a dismissal of the false dichotomy between a strong economy and a clean environment. In its broad outlines, it has promise as a way to reduce America’s dependence on oil imports while spurring investment in America’s manufacturers and increasing the disposable income of American families through energy savings. Plus, as Edwards said, “We need to ask Americans to be patriotic about things beyond war.”

Which begs a question for our current leadership in Congress: Why wait for 2008 when there are good proposals on the table ready for debate today?

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