Massachusetts voters face a stark choice this coming Tuesday when it comes to Cape Cod’s future viability and humanity’s future prospect. They face a stark choice that they, well, simply may not understand.
Senate candidtate Martha Coakley has a substantive record in the environmental and energy arenas.
As the energy ratepayer advocate in Massachusetts, Martha Coakley has worked to keep energy prices down, including advocating for over $100 million dollars in savings, while promoting long-term policies designed for a cleaner, more efficient and less costly energy future.
- Saved ratepayers over $100 million dollars and advocated for other ratepayer protections through litigation efforts at the state and federal level including successful opposition to numerous electric and gas rate increases for the customers of Bay State Gas, New England Gas, Fitchburg Electric, NSTAR and Western Massachusetts Electric and successful opposition to excessive incentives sought at FERC for interstate transmission projects over the life of these projects.
- Reached a Settlement with NSTAR, the Union of Concerned Scientists and the Conservation Law Foundation for Long-Term Wind Contracts and Green Power that anchored the development of two 30 MW wind farms and provided an option for NSTAR’s customers to purchase renewable power for a portion or all of the energy portion of their bill.
- Reached a Settlement with Western Massachusetts Electric Company for the development of the Commonwealth’s first utility grade solar project in the state that will result in the development of 6MW of solar power, developed at the least cost, in Western Massachusetts.
- Pushed for reforms in New England’s multibillion dollar energy market and transmission planning process to ensure more transparency, more emphasis on costs and better access for ratepayer and consumer groups.
- Forged a landmark agreement with the Patrick Administration establishing the most aggressive energy efficiency goals in the nation which will result in over a billion dollar investment in energy efficiency in the Commonwealth over the next three years with expected savings of over $4 billion.
- Supported interstate transmission project to bring clean, cost effective hydro power from Quebec to Massachusetts customers that will be financed initially by private capital.
- Secured important changes in state laws to provide for better oversight and regulation of utility companies including allowing the Attorney General to compel audits of utility books, closed loopholes in the state’s authority to review utility mergers and acquisitions and codified the Attorney General’s role in representing Massachusetts consumers before federal energy agencies.
Coakley has tangible and meaningful experience with using cap and trade activities for reducing carbon emissions, with her role in the northeast’s Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI).
Coakley’s white paper (Repowering America: A Comprehensive Energy Reform Plan (pdf)) is thoughtful, with a recognition that there is no single bullet solution. This Plan highlights the need for energy efficiency (aggressive/strict/strong standards/building codes), the need to incentivize renewable energy, and placing a price on carbon to foster an environment favoring “cost-effective long-term investments”.
On energy efficiency, for example, there is a solid page and half discussion that highlights Coakley’s role in Massachusett’s “three-year energy efficiency plan” that will reduce electricity demand by 2.4%, natural gas demand by 1.2%, and same consumers over $4 billion. As the plan, correctly, notes:
Investments in cost-effective energy efficiency represent the quickest and least expensive way to mitigate our country’s growing energy demand. Cost-effective energy efficiency measures are much less expensive than investments in new energy infrastructure – typically efficiency investments cost roughly 3 cents per kWh saved while electricity supply fluctuates but can cost up to 12 cents per kWh. For every dollar invested in energy efficiency, consumers can expect over three dollars in savings.
With this knowledge and experience, Coakley places energy efficiency at the core of her concepts, with tangible items as to how to make energy efficiency (which is so often ‘the right choice’ and should be ‘the first choice’) a more viable option for America and Americans in the creation of a more prosperous future.
Similar substantive discussions are there on renewable energy, electricity transmission, cleaner transportation, and how to help low-income Americans reduce their energy costs.
Substantive, sensible concepts that can enrich America (and Americans) while helping to turn the tide on Global Warming’s rising seas.
Republican candidate Scott Brown, on the other hand, should receive some sort of award for being a (serious?) candidate for Federal Office with a near absence of substantive statements as to policy issues. Here is Brown’s policy page, notable for its brevity, lack of substance, and use of code-words / deceptive information. Here is the entirety of the energy / environment discussion:
Energy and Environment
I support common-sense environment policy that will help to reduce pollution and preserve our precious open spaces. I realize that without action now, future generations will be left to clean up the mess we leave. In order to reduce our dependence on foreign oil, I support reasonable and appropriate development of alternative energy sources such as wind, solar, nuclear, geothermal and improved hydroelectric facilities. I oppose a national cap and trade program because of the higher costs that families and businesses would incur.
“common-sense …. reasonable and appropriate …” Wow, who can argue against such thoughtful position as this. However, from this paragraph, let us focus on one item for a moment:
In order to reduce our dependence on foreign oil, I support reasonable and appropriate development of alternative energy sources such as wind, solar, nuclear, geothermal and improved hydroelectric facilities.
What is notable about Brown’s statement? Every single one of these “alternative energy sources” is essentially irrelevant to efforts “to reduce our dependence on foreign oil”. Oil is used for transportation, not electricity generation. All of these renewables are electricity generation paths.
As to the last sentence, Brown is simply statement a falsehood: “the higher costs” derives from false-hood filled truthiness talking points seeking to mislead Americans about the benefits of action to mitigate climate change. Serious study after serious study have shown that the average homeowner would see cost savings through the proposed cap and trade program legislation. With the emphasis on energy efficiency, homeowners would save money. Reduced demand, by the way, would help keep down prices for energy. And, well, those studies failed to account for all the other benefits of action on climate change: like cutting down America’s over $120 billion in additional health care costs due to fossil fuel pollution.
Thus, not only does Scott Brown provide the public an incredibly brief and shallow statement on policy, but that statement shows a fundamental lack of understanding of the arena (that oil and electricity, like oil and water, basically don’t mix) and a willingness to embrace falsehoods about core policy issues.
Mad as hell …
Massachusetts voters, as with many Americans, are frustrated, are “mad as hell”, seeing massive Wall Street bonuses while Main Street suffers, struggling to make mortgage payments, concerned about their and their children’s future. Into this space, into this frustration, waltz demagogues wrapping themselves in that emotional whirlwind, seeming to promise change while, fundamentally, providing a path embracing the policies that have dug the huge hole(s) we are struggling to emerge from.
When it comes to energy and environment, Martha Coakley has offered sensible substance that can help solve problems while Scott Brown has offered up mindless pablum that would help dig the hole deeper.
We have to wonder whether the voters of Massachusetts realize that they face such a stark choice when it comes to energy security (and the future habitability of Cape Cod).
Hat tip: Enviroknow MA-Sen: Coakley is Miles Ahead of Brown on Environmental Issues and The Green Miles A Clean Energy Champion for Senate: Martha Coakley. See also Dernogalizer, Earth to Massachusetts.