In a world where it has become increasingly difficult to maintain access to long-term energy resources, the nation must adopt an energy strategy that values conservation, energy efficiency and greater alternative energy use. With this increased consumption will come sharply rising energy prices, continued dependence on imported fuels, and accelerating global climate change (not to mention increased geopolitical instability caused by the competition over energy resources and the changes brought on by changing climate).
As set forth above, America's carbon footprint is expanding; therefore, the nation must focus on prioritizing smart growth policies, public transportation, and smart commuting. America's communities need to become more livable and sustainable, and the only way to do that is for the nation to re-evaluate how it funds its transportation needs.
Fully fund the Energy Block Grant Program: Local and state governments are uniquely positioned to foster a grass-roots approach to the development and deployment of energy efficiency and conservation projects. Government leaders understand that since metropolitan areas are big sources of the carbon emissions and big users of energy resources, they need to be on the forefront of efforts to encourage energy efficiency and independence (through the use of renewable energy technologies like wind, solar, and geothermal, support the use of smart growth planning and zoning to reduce automobile usage, create more energy efficient buildings, and implement energy savings campaigns). The Energy Block Grant enables local governments to do just that, it enables them to support projects that create new employment opportunities in their communities while presenting real world examples of renewable energy projects that work.
Diversify America's energy supplies: The nation must continue to diversify its current energy mix to include more alternative energy resources. To do this a number of different strategies need to be undertaken. First, expand federal tax credits for wind and other energy power supplies (to promote the stability and long term growth of these industries, private businesses need to have the assurance that these credits will be around long term and not subject to constant renewal every few years). Second, the federal government, following the lead of many states in this area, should adopt a national portfolio standard that requires utility companies to use alternative energy supplies. Finally, create incentives and programs that promote energy storage and smart grid policies.
Invest in a Smart Energy Grid: To truly create a greener future, the federal government must ensure that the power created from these energy resources actually reaches major population centers (unfortunately, most of the power generate through alternative energy resources - solar, wind, geothermal, tidal - are often located in remote areas). Current alternative energy incentives that only focus on growth of separate industries is not enough. To ensure that government resources are not wasted on nonviable industries, the nation must invest in new transmission lines and other facilities to guarantee that alternative energy projects are a viable means of power production.
Invest in Weatherization of Homes and Commercial Buildings: The nation could reduce its dependence on foreign energy resources simply by being more energy efficient. Weatherizing (i.e. upgrading home furnaces, ducts, windows, and insulation) the nation's current housing stock (or just the government's considerable public housing stock) could help reduce current energy demand by a significant number.
Create Jobs in Green Industries: The federal government in addition to investing in a new smart grid, alternative energy, weatherization programs, should also fund initiatives for advanced green manufacturing training, job transition programs for new green industries, and apprenticeships with private sector employers and unions that will work in new green industries.