My LI Pulse Green Energy Rant: Director’s Cut

Carter Solar Panel Photos

Image by 350.org via Flickr

IW: My article: starts:

Over 30 years ago, President Carter put solar panels on the White House. But don’t go looking for them—President Reagan took them down. Bush 1 and Clinton kept them down. Bush 2 did put three smallish solar collectors on the White House grounds for a maintenance shed and the pool, but with little-to-no fanfare. He also built his Texas ranch to be off the grid with geothermal heating, but unfortunately W’s sustainable energy policy stopped at his doorstep. He probably couldn’t have his oil buddies thinking he was a tree hugger.

You can read the rest on  Has the Green Revolution’s Engine Seized? | Long Island Pulse Magazine

For those of you who love DVDs with the Director’s cut and special features, here are some of the paragraphs left on the cutting room floor:

Bill McKibben speaks at Rochester Institute of...

Image via Wikipedia

In 2010, after a suggestion from David Letterman, Climate Change superhero Bill McKibben and his intrepid 350.org crew obtained one of the original Carter solar panels from Maine’s Unity College. They drove it down to DC to bring it home to the White House.  Obama met them at the gate took it off the back of the truck and immediately installed it on the White House roof himself.  Er, no wait.  Obama had some functionaries meet with the activists and tell them they’ll think about it. Obama thought about it and announced that sometime in Spring 2011, he will be putting solar panels on the White House after all.  Of course, there was no mention of Carter’s ground-breaking first installation or the 350.org campaign in the White House announcement.  So I’m taking a chance since this article will come out in the Spring, but based on past experience, we’d better keep on Obama to keep his promise. And since the White House never returned my phone calls or emails asking for a date of the installation, I feel pretty safe in my assertion.  Otherwise, Obama will be putting the solar panels up when our troops finally leave Iraq. Never.

You see, I’ve been down this road before in Babylon.  Babylon Supervisor Steve Bellone has been making the same promise to the Sierra Club for years. Specifically, to put solar panels on the south-facing roof of Town Hall.  Where’d that come from?  Well in 2001, both Bellone and I were running for the Supervisor seat vacated by Rich Shaffer.  Bellone on the Democratic line and me on the Green Party line. As part of my platform, I said I would put solar panels on Town Hall.  Candidate Bellone derided the idea as impracticable despite Carter having done the same thing over 20 years earlier.  Five years later, Supervisor Bellone was getting kudos from the Sierra Club for his visionary plan to put solar panels on Town Hall.  Five years later than that, and I am still looking for those solar panels every time I drive through Lindenhurst on Sunrise Highway.
So why the obsession with solar panels on the White House roof? Well, it’s a symbol of dedication to a new sustainable energy economy.   Imagine if you will, that when we shut down the military defense industry on Long Island, we just didn’t throw a whole bunch of engineers out of work and board up some factories.  What if we had taken those same resources and made Long Island the center of energy defense development and manufacturing? We are the perfect place.  We get great sunshine for solar energy.  Lots of it falls wasted on the flat roofs of all the shopping mall sand factories.  And we have tons of free wind on the ocean.

Now let’s take that vision to national level.  As the wealthiest, most technologically advanced nation in the world this switching from an oil-addicted economy to a renwable one shouldn’t be a tough target for us to hit.  After all, who can beat us?  Um.. .China.  China spends twice as much as the US on renewable energy.  Gee, how can such a “poor” country afford to do that?  Simply, they spend one-sixth what we do on the military.  Since China’s coal burning habits have been our excuse not to sign the Kyoto Accords, has the US whipped out its pen to sign up?  Are we making plans to catch up with China in clean energy?  Are we cutting the US military budget and moving the money to climate change defense instead?  Nope!  So, what are we doing?  Heading in the wrong direction, that’s what. Our own US Senator Gillibrand demanded a meeting with the Chinese ambassador to, are you ready for this, to complain that China’s subsidies of renewable energy violate international trade rules.  Way to lead!!

In the same State of the Union speech, Obama talked about gutting EPA regulations to get them out of the way of business in tones that eerily that reminded me a lot of VP Dan Quayle’s Competitiveness Council.  It’s funny, I never heard solar panel or wind mill manufacturers complain about EPA regs getting in the way.  The only complaint the renewable energy industry has is that if they were given the same breaks by the federal government as the climate polluting technologies, their production capacities would soar.  And the renewable energy industry still wouldn’t need the US taxpayers to pick up the tab on their insurance premiums  and loan premiums like the nuclear industry did to build to new plants in Georgia.
Enough gloom and doom.  Buckminister Fuller explained the problem:“Politicians are always realistically maneuvering for the next election. They are obsolete as fundamental problem-solvers.” Dylan gave the solution:  “Don’t wait for leaders.”  What are we to do? Start local.  Reduce your foot print.  Buy renewable energy through LIPA.  Change over your home or your car.  Get involved with Long Island environmental groups working against climate change.  Write a facebook post.  Write to your favorite media.  Educate yourself on how our budget priorities, especially our military, is contributing to climate change.  Tell your politicians they will not get your money or your vote if they do make renewable energy a priority.  Run for office yourself.  Tune into the national and international climate change movement.  Take one step today.

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