If we do not alter our energy use soon and drastically, the ecological crisis may be exacerbated past a point where it can be resolved. This urgency is not communicated to us. Indeed, it is often hidden from us, because a system that would satisfy the energy needs of everyone in the world while ensuring ecological health and balance would deprive the powers that be of their control and profit.
We call for the creation and redesign of existing human environments to be as energy-efficient as possible. Energy efficiency means first determining what our needs truly are (a shift away from a planned-obsolescence, disposable society), and then meeting those needs with greater efficiency. As demand declines, we need to phase out the most ecologically harmful sources of energy.
Simultaneously, we need to plan to meet remaining energy needs with solar and other renewable technologies (wind, small-scale hydro, hydrogen, and so on). We also strongly advocate that a fundamental tenet of American foreign policy be to promote and export the production of renewable energy technologies.
We need to eliminate subsidies, tax benefits, and research funding on nuclear and other nonrenewable energy corporations and utilities, as well as on such energy wasters as the virgin-paper, mining, cattle grazing, agribusiness, and airline industries.
The pace at which subsidies are eliminated should be examined on a case-by-case basis so that desirable ecological practices are not lost in the transition before they have an opportunity to establish themselves. It is important to establish a true-cost pricing policy, where the price of a product or service reflects its true environmental cost. These prices would thus include the ecological damage caused during the procurement of raw materials (oil spills, strip mining); the problems created during the performance of a service or use of a product (auto pollution, soil erosion from agribusiness); the cost of disposing, recycling, or otherwise neutralizing a product or service's residue (landfills, toxic wastes); and the physical deterioration that comes from living in the world of stress and pollution that these practices create.
Regulatory measures on all these issues must be enacted.
We support partial subsidies for the rebuilding of certain infrastructures along more ecologically sustainable lines, so that the cost of transition is born partly by society. Examples here include subsidies to public transportation, energy conservation, renewable energy research and development, and small-scale organic agriculture. This funding could be directed away from presently subsidized unecological practices, such as the nuclear industry.
We oppose any further development of our nation's Outer Continental Shelf for oil drilling or exploration.
We call for a complete phase-out of nuclear power, beginning immediately. However, we recognize that the federal government and the nuclear industry are in the process of pushing for a new generation of nuclear reactor construction in the United States. Therefore it is critical that we help the anti-nuclear community:
We call for the repeal of the 1954 Atomic Energy Act, of the Price-Anderson Act, and of the federal Nuclear Waste Policy Act of 1982. All subsidies of the nuclear industry should be eliminated. Primary scientific investigations would be limited to reversal of the worldwide increases in background radiation caused by human technology, and the study of benign forms of ionizing radiation. We urge that all nuclear waste sites be cleaned up, including mill tailings sites.
The DOE's geological high-level waste repository program should be cancelled, and replaced with surface-monitored storage (not under military jurisdiction) until full consensus on long-term solutions is reached. We support the removal of all economic trade-offs when establishing environmental safety levels.
The SP-100 program for nuclear reactors in space should be cancelled. We believe the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, with its goal of promoting nuclear energy, should be dismantled, to be replaced by a civilian nuclear decommissioning board charged with the rapid phase-out of nuclear power nationwide.
A Conversion Commission should be created for the retraining of nuclear engineers into other specialty areas such as solar energy, least-cost energy planning, and urban redesign.
Independent, public-access radiation monitoring networks are needed at all commercial and military nuclear facilities.
We believe that all national radiation safety bodies should be restructured, removing the nuclear industry's biased monopoly of control. We oppose the Nuclear Regulatory Commission's deregulation of nuclear waste as expressed by its definition of some wastes as Below Regulatory Concern. We call for the cancellation of the use of irradiation of food products and for the safe decommissioning of production facilities.
We further call for an end to the nuclear medicine establishment's overuse of radioactive isotopes in its investigatory and treatment processes, and an end to the unregulated disposal of waste from such medical procedures.
We call for a phase-out of gasoline and other fossil fuels, beginning immediately.
To work toward this goal, we support raising the average miles per gallon (mpg) requirement for new vehicles in a graduated manner to reach 60 mpg for cars and 45 mpg for light trucks by 2010.
Once a high fuel efficiency standard is set, substantial "gas guzzler" tax increases should be established for purchases of autos that get a lower mpg, along with "gas sipper" rebates for those that get higher. Variable yearly registration fees reflecting fuel efficiency are another way to incorporate this concept.
Remaining fuel needs should be met with the least environmentally damaging renewable fuels that are locally produced, controlled, and distributed. We firmly oppose proposals that natural gas become the main alternative motor fuel source because natural-gas-generated methanol is not renewable, because a commitment to it would delay and make more expensive (economically and environmentally) the transition to renewables, because it would continue to exacerbate the greenhouse effect, and because it would at the same time further the oligarchical control of our energy resources.
We urge an increase in the gas tax in a graduated yet significant manner over several years. Additional funds generated from the gas tax should be directed into public transit development and research and development of alternative fuels (for both private and public transit) such as solar electric, solar hydrogen, and diverse forms of biomass. When allocating these funds, priorities for their use should be set to mitigate the regressive nature of gas taxes for low-income drivers.
To make public transit more convenient and financially attractive, we need to:
Businesses of 100 or more employees should be required to achieve a base ridership per vehicle (for example, 1.5-2.5) for their employees. To encourage this, we should subsidize (through gas tax revenue) the purchase by businesses of solar electric and other environmentally benign fueled vans for the use of their employees.
Recognizing that the trucking industry does not pay its true cost, we urge that the government establish fuel efficiency standards for heavy trucks, establish gas guzzler taxes for heavy trucks that do not meet this standard and gas sipper taxes for those that do, and raise the gas tax on diesel fuel.
The subsidization of airlines and airports should be eliminated. We urge that bicycle use as an alternative means of transportation be encouraged through such methods as creating separate bike lanes, allowing free bicycle carriage on public transit, and providing bicycle storage lockers and public showers where appropriate.
Increasing the efficiency of our buildings and technologies can reduce energy demand to levels where solar and other environmentally more benign renewable fuels can replace fossil fuels. By implementing a true-cost pricing system that assigns the environmental cost of burning fossil fuels like oil, gas, and coal to their purchase price, the shift to renewables can be made cost-effective.
High energy-efficiency levels should be required in new construction, and super-efficiency should be rewarded with tax rebates. Energy-efficiency retrofitting of existing structures can also be encouraged through the true-cost pricing mechanism; energy guzzler/energy sipper taxes can be levied on existing structures at the point of resale. We urge that new construction be required to achieve one-quarter to half its heating energy from the sun. Variances should be needed to demonstrate why solar technology ought not to be used.
We support high energy-efficiency standards for lighting and home appliances; again, energy guzzler/energy sipper tax schedules should be established corresponding to this rate.
The use of solar and other renewable fuel technologies should be mandatory in the construction and retrofitting of government buildings. The use of cogeneration in industrial practices can similarly be accelerated through the implementation of true-cost pricing mechanisms.
Given the ecological consequences of large-scale hydroelectric power, we do not recommend any more development of this industry.
Because electricity is an essential community resource, we support the growing movement for public power. Legislation enacted at the state level can provide for decentralized public ownership and democratic control of the nation's energy system, emphasizing integrated least-cost planning. We urge that existing public power systems be democratized and integrated into public utility districts (PUDs). The PUDs must also be authorized to issue tax-exempt bonds to finance conservation, energy efficiency, and renewable energy projects.
Restrictions on the use of tax-exempt bonds to acquire private utility property must be repealed at the federal level.
The United States must begin by reducing its carbon dioxide emissions by 35% by the year 2005.
From an energy policy standpoint, the best way to accomplish this is the strategy advocated in this document-conservation, efficiency, and a swift and dramatic shift to renewable fuels. Hand in hand with our domestic shift must also be a drastic increase in foreign aid for renewable technologies in Eastern Europe and the Third World.
Other practices that, while not specifically energy policies, are nevertheless fundamental in addressing the greenhouse effect include: