Americans For Energy Reform
At the heart of the ATR is the “Taxpayer Protection Pledge” (pdf). At the heart of the AENR is the “Energy Defense Pledge” (pdf). Compare the two side by side. They both protect the taxpayer. Ours is reverse engineered to also advance energy and reduce war.
The beauty of Grover Norquist’s Pledge format is that it strips away all the clutter and gets right to the heart of the matter. For Energy, the heart is the connection between energy, fiscal austerity and security.
Especially useful was Grover’s language.
- His choice of “protection” in the title was key. We went with “defense” - we’re defending the energy programs, the taxpayer, everything. And laying claim to the word “defense” at the same time. First line of defense? Energy Research spending.
- His phrase, “unless matched dollar for dollar” is brilliant. Here we leverage it to link military spending and energy spending. For some reason, it’s easy for politicians to commit to expensive wars, but not so easy to commit to energy research. The level of scrutiny and risk aversion in energy research is intense, while the idea of sending young people off to get blown up and return suicidal hardly registers a blink.
A Tax on People Who Are Bad at Math
It has been said that the lottery is a tax on people who are bad at math. Similarly, our policy of breezy commitment to foreign wars in oil rich territories while nickel and dimeing progressive energy research is a tax on people who are bad at cost benefit analysis.
Check out these infographics to give you perspective on energy R&D vs. Military costs. See also sidebar. Please help us develop more!
Capturing the Vision
Our main challenge is how to clarify the vision for ultimate energy advancement in one sentence.
We are using the phrase “leapfrog from resource based to knowledge based energy”. The word “leapfrog” is key, as is the distinction between resource and knowledge based energy (inspired by Steven Cowley).
The word “leapfrog” takes into account the fear that America has already lost the lead in energy and may be feeling unable to catch up. Thus we emphasize focus on innovation and the breathtaking, bold projects to move ahead rapidly.
Resource v. Knowledge Based Energy
The organization Vote4Energy appears shares our interest in energy solutions. Their home page starts off with a quiz, “What are your energy priorities”. The questions are all things we can get behind. Yes! I’m all for more jobs, higher government revenues and energy security!
But then it turns out Vote4Energy is a project of the American Petroleum Institute representing more than 490 oil and natural gas companies. How retro.
God bless ‘em.
While we are all for wise short term stewardship of our natural resources, the bigger prize is moving beyond this to a truly exceptional “be all you can be” energy future.
“Resource based” energy refers to energy that comes from non-renewable resources. Fossil fuels, for example. We also call this “caveman energy”. It’s easier to harness this kind of energy - you suck it out of the ground, or blow up mountain tops, and burn it. Very simple, and a high return on investment, if you don’t count those pesky green house gas or foreign war costs.
Speaking of wars, it makes sense that a resource oriented population would be quicker to launch wars for energy supply. If your focus is on resource, then you are more inclined to compete for control of those resources.
“Knowledge based” energy is the type of energy that takes more thought, requires more engineering, science, and research. This includes most renewables, smart grids, advanced fission, and fusion. In strictly fiscal terms, many of these are not cost effective yet, but will be soon. The problem is, people use the economic argument here that we have to WAIT for the cost of resource based energy to drop before developing the knowledge based energy supplies, because of the EROI factor.
Given that EROI rarely takes into account the triple bottom line, many people would like to speed up the transition. A pledge to support knowledge based energy is vital to this acceleration.
Speaking of acceleration, a knowledge oriented population would be less inclined to launch wars for energy supply and more inclined to use collaboration and creativity to solve the energy supply challenge.
This distinction brings up an important issue. Many people express concern about energy and yet securing a clear commitment to energy has been elusive. This is because people tend to approach energy in as much of a partisan and ideological way as they do politics.
Energy conversations need to get to the bottom of this matter. These will have to take place as we circulate the pledge and gain support.
To facilitate that conversation, we are developing an Energy Compass. This was inspired by the Political Compass. As with the political compass, it turns out that your values play a big role in shading your perception of viable solutions. Here is a crude prototype of the compass.