We are facing huge long-term problems: a real unemployment rate of 18%, dysfunctional banks that are "too big to fail", a regressive tax structure that's stifling economic growth, prisons that are bursting at the seams, urban schools that are struggling, a health care system that still needs major reform, the lack of a coherent national energy policy that will protect our economy and the environment, and a government that has been encroaching on our civil liberties. For decades we have lived with irresponsible public policies from career politicians in Congress who care more about increasing their party’s power and getting re-elected than they care about solving long-term problems. They haven’t been honest with us, and they have been lousy public servants.

I’m different. I do not want to be a career politician. I am not a Democrat or a Republican. I’m a Problem Solver. I want to force members of Congress to be responsible, and implement sustainable solutions to real problems. Please read the positions I present on this website, and spread the word to friends and family.

Please email me at John@Mertens2010.com, and become a supporter on Twitter at @mertens4senate or Facebook: John's FB

Friday, August 14, 2009

Energy Policy and the Environment

The United States has never had a comprehensive and well-articulated energy policy. It’s time.

The goals of my energy policy are:

  • Increase GDP energy efficiency (reduce the amount of energy used per dollar of GDP)
  • Maintain long-term energy availability and reduce reliance on foreign countries
  • Minimize human health costs from energy use
  • Minimize environmental costs from energy use
    -ecosystems, natural beauty
    -agriculture, infrastructure
  • Keep economic cost as low as possible, and maintain price stability

These will be significant challenges. We (the U.S.) currently get about 85% of our energy from fossil fuels. About 63% comes from oil and natural gas, and 22% from coal. In the next 50 years, prices of oil and natural gas will increase significantly as reserves are consumed. We need to help shift our reliance on fossil fuels to other sources in economical ways. Shifting from fossil fuel use will also reduce human health and environmental costs.

Major components of my energy policy:

  • Reduce reliance on petroleum by increasing transportation efficiency using CAFE standards.
  • Greatly reduce sulfur- and nitrogen-oxide emissions from coal power plants by closing a loophole in the 1990 Clean Air Act. A study by the GAO has shown that the benefit/cost ratio from this action would be greater than 10!
  • Reduce natural gas and coal consumption, and reduce the need for new power plants, by promoting efficiency with tiered pricing structures for electricity. We need to encourage people to live efficiently. We learned during the California energy crisis in 1999 that electricity consumption can be drastically reduced through personal choices.
  • Promote wind power by increasing and making permanent the tax credit for renewable power. Wind power has been growing 30-50% per year. We should set a goal of annual growth of wind power of 100%.
  • Continue to promote solar-thermal power plants in the southwest, and passive solar systems for homes, with tax credits.
  • Streamline the process for licensing and building safe non-breeder nuclear reactors with fuel reprocessing. I support nuclear power because it produces no air pollution and no greenhouse gases. Current designs are extremely safe and efficient. Yes, nuclear power produces waste that must be stored safely for a very long time, and that is a significant negative. But it is a lesser evil when compared to the costs of using fossil fuels. And in many regions of the country, solar and wind are not feasible.
  • Increase research funding for electric cars. Electric cars are much more efficient than liquid-fuel cars, and in the long term (2050?) most of our cars should be electric or primary-electric hybrids.
  • Increase research funding for CO2-sequestration. It is also important to understand that efforts to reduce CO2 emissions should be emissions related, not fuel related. In other words, a carbon tax on fuels would not promote CO2-sequestration. A CO2 emission tax would. But CO2-sequestration technology must be proven to be safe and effective first.
  • Promote trash-to-energy plants with advanced scrubber systems. Connecticut has a fantastic trash-to-energy system, and it should be adopted by other states.
  • Increase research into the production of non-corn-based ethanol. Corn ethanol does not make sense economically or environmentally, and government mandates for its production should be reduced. It takes nearly as much energy to create corn-based ethanol as we get from burning the ethanol. And it is ruining our farmlands, and driving up the price of food.
  • Upgrade our electric power grid so that it can accomodate renewable sources of electricity in an efficient way. This is extremely important, and will require a great deal of organized effort. We should appoint a "Power Grid Czar", who has engineering experience, who can help with this process.

There are many more details that I can discuss in person.

Please support our efforts! We will gladly take any amount. You can donate here, or send a check made out to "John Mertens for U.S. Senate" to the address below. The maximum contribution per individual is $2,400. For donations of more than $50, federal law requires that you provide your name and address. For contributions above $200, you must also provide your profession and employer name. Thank you!

John Mertens for U.S. Senate
P.O. Box 330452
West Hartford, CT 06133-0452