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Fighting for Energy Freedom (my passion for a right, winning cause)

It was five years ago that I began to become aware of energy and the importance of its role in everything. Now as a regular contributor/columnist for many online commentary sites and newspapers, as well as a regular guest on radio and TV programs, people often comment on my passion for the subject of energy. They wonder how I became so engaged in a topic few people even care about.

My newest book, my twentieth but the first in the current affairs genre, explains my passion. Energy Freedom attempts to present energy in such a way that it becomes a subject everyone is aware of, can understand, and wants to influence.

Background

I do not come from an energy, science, or public policy background. I’ve spent my life in speaking and writing either as a communicator or a trainer of communicators. When circumstances in my personal life mandated that I get a real job, I never imagined that I could be so enthusiastic about something not of my own making.

In September 2006, I accepted a position at Citizens’ Alliance for Responsible Energy (CARE) and became Executive Director on January 1, 2007.  Back then, like most people, I knew little more about energy than putting gas in my car or flipping a switch on the wall. Since then, I’ve had some great teachers and been an eager student.

In my personal energy education, I’ve read many exhaustive tomes offering a thorough treatment on the subject. Engineers or professors wrote the books. If you want to understand the difference between a watt, horsepower, and a joule, I can recommend several books for you—but not Energy Freedom. My book is for the average American energy consumer who knows that energy costs are going up, but doesn’t understand why; and for the person who is newly politically engaged out of concern for the direction America is heading.

Energy Freedom I: Environmental Utopia

Section One, Environmental Utopia, is based on original research I did in 2007, and it remains the foundation for both my passion for the subject and for Energy Freedom.

I started by looking at both well-known environmental groups and smaller, regional, and/or specifically targeted-issue groups to draft a broad view of the environmentalists’ goals as they relate to energy. There is widespread belief that oil, gas, and coal—all fossil fuels—are at the base of much of the world’s ills. Nuclear is not too popular with the green gang either.

In Environmental Utopia, I draw the green goals out to their logical conclusion.

Here’s a sampling of what could happen to four major aspects of American life if the environmentalists were in charge.

Transportation: Most Americans have the freedom to come and go in their individual cars as they choose. A 2006 survey found that 91% of Americans consider their cars to be a necessity, not a luxury. Yet environmental extremists are actively working to stop or prevent drilling for oil and gas. They also aim to shut down coal-fueled power plants and oppose nuclear energy. With a reduced capacity for electricity and transportation, our lifestyle, as we know it, ceases to exist.

Modern Conveniences: The same survey found that most Americans consider things like microwaves, air conditioning and heating, computers, and cell phones to be a necessity. However, in a limited-fuel, environmentally controlled society, these items would have to go. They all require electricity—as do electric cars. Additionally, each of these “necessities” is made from plastic and plastic is typically made from hydrocarbons.

Health: Like modern conveniences, our health is heavily dependent on both energy and plastics. If you have been in a doctor’s office or hospital lately, you know that even taking your temperature requires electricity and plastics. Today’s extreme regulations could have an adverse impact on our health.

Housing: Without abundant electricity to purify water and pump it into your home and remove and process waste matter, you couldn’t live there. You’d need to move to a location near a fresh water source. Additionally, many environmental groups want to block the cutting of trees—making the construction of new homes near a potential fresh water source virtually impossible.

Energy Freedom II: Who are the Environmentalists?

As I speak on energy, and specifically on the influence of environmentalists, I am frequently asked, “Why do they do this?” Followed by: “They are destroying America.” Unfortunately that is the goal.

These professional environmentalists—not to be confused with the nice lady in the grocery store wearing Birkenstocks and carrying a canvas grocery sack—may look green on the outside, but the real motive is much closer to red. Red like neo-communism, neo-socialism—or just plain control. Green on the outside, red on the inside. Like a watermelon.

These watermelons are well funded, many of them working with multi-million dollar budgets. They’ve been it at for a long time and have patiently made incremental changes. They mostly do not hold political office. Without violence, they have attacked minds. They have transformed society.

I had the opportunity to hear Patrick Moore, one of the founders of Greenpeace when he spoke in New Mexico in 2009, where he said that the environmental movement depends on politics of confrontation—which he defined as telling people what they should not do. Moore explained that the ’80s ushered in the age of environmental extremism. The basic issues, for which he and Greenpeace fought, had largely been accomplished, and the general public was in agreement with the primary message. In order for the environmentalists to stay counter-culture, they had to adopt ever more extreme positions. “What happened is environmental extremism,” said Moore. “They’ve abandoned science and logic altogether.”

The extremist message today is “anti”—anti-human, anti-science, anti-technology, anti-trade and globalization, anti-business and capitalism, and ultimately, anti-civilization. No wonder it seems no regulation goes far enough to appease them.

Energy Freedom III: Green Schemes

The spotted owl, DDT, and ethanol are a sampling of campaigns that have changed an industry or damaged the economy for naught. Once you understand the history, you won’t be fooled with the next green scheme—such as cutting emissions (for the sake of “public health”) to levels lower than those found in nature.

Energy Freedom IV: Act Now!

Parts One through Three are about waking up; Section Four is about showing up, standing up, and speaking up. I present an action plan and simple steps that will help you make a difference!

As I speak to groups throughout the country, I find most Americans are now awake. However, like someone who’s heard a noise in the night, we are awake, but scared—pulling the covers up around us. If the noise in the night were really something of concern, sitting in bed surrounded by comfort, would not chase away the scare. We’d need to scream to let them know we are there, call 911, and grab a weapon.

Our weapon is to show up, stand up, speak up—even if only figuratively.

Remember cap and trade? This was one of President Obama’s campaign promises. With those in support of the carbon emission limiting legislation in control of all three houses, it should have passed easily. But the American people “screamed” in the form of Tea Parties and town hall meetings. We gave Congress an earful and cap and trade never passed—and never will.

Debate Entry Points

There are dozens of hearings and meetings each week that include city, regional, state, and national issues. They need you! These are usually held during normal business hours and have minimal mention in the media—meaning that you have to be alert to the issues and track what is going on. They often slip by unnoticed until the plan they implemented is enacted and people realize another freedom has disappeared.

Your voice is needed. Your voice matters. Not just for the big rallies and town hall meetings, not just for the hearings, but through phone calls and e-mails. This is another way you can show up, stand up, and speak up—and you do not even have to go anywhere or carry a sign.

Committee and board members and elected officials at every level may want to vote against the energy-killing policies, but they need cover. They need to be able to quote volumes of responses they’ve had on the matter. Those responses can be in person, via e-mail, or by phone. Elected officials can often be heard on the news stating that their offices have been overwhelmed with calls and e-mails over a particular bill. They cite the numbers as an indication of how strongly their constituency feels about how they vote.

The easiest way to speak up is to have your representatives’ phone numbers programmed into your phone. When you are have an unexpected wait, simply dial their number and tell them how you feel on an issue. Praise for a good vote is helpful, too. Let them know they are being watched.

E-mails and faxes are also helpful. Don’t bother sending a paper letter. Just make the call or send the e-mail asking them to vote for or against the issue at hand.

How do you maintain your real life and stay abreast of when you should go to a hearing or write/call an elected official? You communicate with groups or organizations that support your views. Before an important vote or hearing, we send out e-mail alerts asking for your participation. Most groups are networked with others, and we send out announcements for one another. Begin to build an e-mail list of your friends and then forward alerts on to them.

If you already have groups you trust—such as Energy Makes America Great Inc.—be sure you sign up for their alerts. Then, act on them!

Another source is talk shows and newspapers. When a viewpoint you support is presented, respond. Contact the talk show or write a “letter” to the editor (LTE). They need to know what their audience wants; they need to keep you. If you write a letter to the editor and it doesn’t get published—especially in a major metropolitan area—do not be discouraged. The bigger papers get more than they can publish, but like contacting your elected officials, your voice still gets counted. You’ve spoken up.

These are just a few practical suggestions for showing up, standing up, and speaking up. Changing the course of public policy takes more than being aware of the problem. It takes action. I believe together we can turn back the tide.

Conclusion

Together we can keep the green movement on the defense. They’ve been trying to make us replace economical energy that works with electricity that is expensive, intermittent, and ineffective. But America noticed. We woke up. Now we need to continue to show up, stand up, and speak up.

Remember: if they take away your energy, they have taken your freedom.

5 comments

1 Kermit { 10.28.11 at 8:09 am }

You may want to refer to this white paper, http://www.americanchemistry.com/ACC-Shale-Report to find what happens with a 25% increase in natural gas production.

That being written, there is an error in the report. The last operating methanol plant, in the U.S. complete demolition to grade in late 2005/early 2006. It was owned by Methanex and was a converted ammonia plant at Cytec’s Westwego manufacturing site.

With all the talk about “energy” the public (and most “authorities”) fail to report on the importance of liquid/gaseous hydrocarbons to most every product invented in the 20th century.

Engineering companies are now backlogged with designing new manufacturing facilities for states like Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia. Manufacturers are only waiting to see if the “environmentalists” attacks are thwarted. Several of my customers have been earning record profits over the last 3 years, and need to expand. However, present conditions make such capital investment rather risky.

2 Rose { 10.29.11 at 12:48 pm }

Marita’s right. And it’s not so much about the energy issue as with the lack of clarity. Most people have common sense, but like a muscle it must be exercised. If they are too lazy (low energy) to analyze thoroughly, they will be wrong. (Yes, Virginia,there IS right and wrong). I live in Marin County, CA in a community where many of the nature-worshipping women in the local market wear those Birkenstocks and bring their green bags in which to tote their groceries. They drive home in their Obama-stickered Prius and go home to recycle their trash. Nothing against sincere efforts to conserve BUT..the average citizen is far too uninformed and thinking with emotions rather than intellect (a problem with many of us). A problem with emotional thinking rather than intellectual thought is that the person does not THINK THROUGH from their initial beliefs to assess logical outcomes. It just SOUNDS GOOD on the face of it…and it’s easier to just go with that. That’s the underlying problem with the energy issue: people who permit their freedoms to be seductively stolen.
Marita has nailed it in her book with orderly thinking and then a concise and SIMPLE plan of action forthe average guy. People usually WILL take right action if they first have right thinking. And that takes some time…and ENERGY. Go Marita!

3 John Droz { 10.31.11 at 7:02 pm }

Marita:

Good job in your article.

Glad you pointed out the inescapable political connections.

Keep up the good work.

regards,

john

4 T. Caine { 11.06.11 at 9:41 pm }

Marita,

I appreciate the passion and tenacity with which you approach the topic and I would agree that measures that constrict personal freedoms should be critically assessed. I consider myself a proponent of the free market and encourage competition, but we have regulations because the free market continually proves its inability to police its own levels of responsibility. To that effect, promoting no regulation seems just as nonsensical as promoting universal regulation which means that, like most things, we should be ending up somewhere in the middle.

The Master Resource cadre is fond of pointing fingers at “climate alarmists” who tote around doomsday visions as purported scare tactics to induce environmentally driven change. In that vein however, your Environmental Utopia strikes me as doomsday predictions in the opposite direction. While they may underscore the fact that fossil fuels are integral to the current version of how our society functions, it should not try to make the case that any of these areas do not suffer from clear inefficiencies and are not ripe for improvements that we should be actively pursuing.

Transportation: It would make sense that 91% of Americans see their car as a necessity, but the reason is because we have designed it to be that way. Our landscape is covered with outmoded development patterns that make inefficiency all but mandatory. Sustainability isn’t really about everyone driving a Prius or an EV. It’s about designing transit-oriented development so that people drive less. The point is, our transportation system can evolve in many ways to decrease oil use and still be far from a mobility apocalypse.

Modern Conveniences: Of the modern conveniences you’re talking about, the ones that really matter energy-wise are heating and cooling along with hot water heating. Together, those account for 72% of a home’s average energy consumption. They’re also some of the easiest things to improve. Evacuated solar thermal tubes cut hot water heating to a fraction of its normal energy use. Combine that with geothermal heating and cooling and all of a sudden we have taken a huge chunk out of home energy consumption and made the gradual transition from fossil fuels much easier. Throw in Energy Star, good windows, an R-40 wall and now we’re really talking.

Health: Agreed, plastic is essential to our healthcare system right now, but that doesn’t mean that fossil fuel consumption is “good” for us. A report in the Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences pegs the estimated average health related cost of air pollution from coal power production at $187 billion annually (of a $345 billion total cost). $187 billion pays for a lot of clean energy. A GE 2.5 MW turbine goes for around $1.65 million. Let’s call it $2 million to throw in installation and energy storage. If we significantly round down, that’s over 200 GW of new capacity a year?

Housing: Like you, I do not come from an energy, science or public policy background. I am an architect and I can say that most of the homes built in this country are flagrantly and unnecessarily inefficient. As mentioned above, even with all of the modern conveniences we are so far away from the bare-minimum of how much energy we need to actually serve a home. There are areas for vast improvement that could leave us with a power surplus and plenty of coal plants to shut down (lets say the oldest that tend to be the least efficient?)

I think that taking the position that taking every piece of legislation aimed at sustainable progress and calling it an affront on personal freedom is just as extreme a stance as propositions to shut down fossil fuel supply lines tomorrow. As another quick note, I would not try to deny that some portion of green energy support is politically motivated, but who is going to deny the absence of that in the oil or gas industry, one of the top five industry spenders for lobbying?

I believe that calls for sustainability need to be tempered with realism of what can be accomplished, but the answer is not to say we are doing it perfectly now without any areas to improve.

Best-
Tyler

5 chuck { 01.02.12 at 9:49 pm }

The trouble is “newspeak” sustainability now means NO. Also means you should be ashamed to question the environmentalists. Like “reasonable guncontrol” means: disarm the people, but not “MY bodyguards” Only the elite have the “Privledge” of self defense. Orwell warned us of this!

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