You know our long-term national security and economic situation must be bad when even George Bush admits we have an oil addiction. Well, as they teach folks in Alcoholics Anonymous, it all starts with admitting that you have a problem.
So as a long-time advocate of doing something major here (like Tom "I'll Take a Manhattan Project" Friedman) I was glad to hear the President call for a serious Apollo-like, if Apollo-lite, call to action to make us free from foreign oil.
Of course, the devil is in the details and in making sure that a renewables genius like Amory Lovins (not Dick Cheney) is W's special friend as he enters his long-term, post-petroleum rehab program.
So how do we get serious about the right investments and enforceable standards to create a clean energy economy and millions of quality American jobs -- not billions in Halliburton subsidies?
Well, here are a good set of principles -- call them The Apollo Standards if you will -- to benchmark Mr. Bush in his effort to stay clean and keep his word on setting America free.
Investment at a Serious Scale: We will not achieve foreign oil independence overnight, nor will we transform our petro-based economy, unless we invest in the challenge with a vengeance -- and the recognition that these investments will more than pay for themselves as we reap the large-scale economic and employment opportunities of a clean energy economy. The Apollo Alliance's ten year, $300 billion ten-point plan to create 3 million new jobs is the right scale of investment if we are to truly transform our energy, transportation and manufacturing systems.
Implemented in Small Steps: We recognize that political and economic transformation takes time, and that many energy policy issues are controversial, so we work for and welcome important "steps" along the road to the Apollo vision. For example, we should all support the bi-partisan Vehicle and Fuel Choices for American Security Act of 2005 to implement immediate oil savings and develop 21st Century vehicles.
Innovation Through States and Regions: While we need a bold, national commitment to invest in clean energy opportunities, we believe that the core locus of investment should be in cities, states and regions. What Detroit needs to do, for example, is different than what Phoenix needs to do. New policies are needed to catalyze innovative investments and partnerships at the local, state and regional levels -- such as federal loan guarantees for clean energy investments for public pension funds, regional block grants and other means to spur further innovation in the states and regions.
Measurable Success: Any and all energy policy proposals should be benchmarked and compared in three areas: (1) how many U.S. jobs do they create at what level of net subsidy; (2) how much national security benefits do they provide; and (3) how much environmental progress is achieved. We need a wise combination of investment incentives and environmental standards to achieve these benchmarks -- such as a national renewables portfolio standards and an equalization of subsidy levels so the nuttiness of the last energy bill is ended (in that bill, there were $39 in coal/nuclear subsidies for every buck spent seeding renewables).
Want to get even wonkier? Check out www.apolloalliance.org to get plugged into energy in your state.