The Next 100 Days Part 2: Bring on the Sizzle


It is time for President Obama to mobilize us all to help build the new energy economy. He has begun shaping the public policies we need. Now he needs to launch an Apollo project, interstate highway project, war effort and Marshall Plan all rolled into one.

For starters, he should call on us all to pick up our caulking guns and enlist in the war against energy waste – a national clean energy surge.

Efficiency improvements and conservation have been America’s main source of energy since 1973, according to the Alliance to Save Energy. Yet, the potential for more savings is enormous. As Obama noted during the campaign, the United States is only the 22nd most energy-efficiency major economy in the world. With very few exceptions, every vehicle, home, power plant, factory, community and state is hemorrhaging energy, energy dollars and greenhouse gas emissions. Consider just a few examples:

· We lose massive amounts of energy as electricity is generated and distributed. The typical coal plant turns only a third of its fuel into productive energy and more is lost in transmission lines.

· The typical residential or commercial building could cut its energy use, and do it cost-effectively, by 25-30 percent.

· According to the Rocky Mountain Institute, 70 cents of every dollar the typical community spends on energy immediately leaves the local economy. If more energy dollars were retained through energy efficiency and locally generated renewables, the money would circulate longer in the community. The result – not unlike keeping the ball in play in a pinball machine – is a “multiplier effect” that creates more local spending, jobs and businesses.

· The U.S. Department of Energy estimated last year that the direct economic cost of oil dependence in 2008 would be $560 billion, reducing our GDP by 1.5 percent.

· A study issued last year by the
American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy estimated that a 30 percent gain in national energy efficiency by 2030 would create as many as 1.3 million net new jobs. Continued...