Jan 152015
 

Fuel efficiency is as important a factor in reducing emissions and our dependence on oil, as using alternative fuels, mass transportation and bicycles. The Obama Administration has nearly doubled the vehicle fuel efficiency standard for 2025 automobiles from 28 to 54.5 miles per gallon. In hope that technology will be a key to fuel efficiency, companies like Google are building cars that can drive themselves with algorithms and sensors. Driverless cars will be able to bunch closer together at steadier speeds. Traffic jams and accidents will become a thing of the past. It is estimated that the reduction in wind drag from vehicles traveling closely together could reduce fuel use by 25%. Driverless vehicles could also be built much lighter since collisions will no longer be a concern. Cars that currently weigh 4,000 pounds could one day weigh less than 1,000 pounds, nearly doubling fuel efficiency. Supporters also say that light, driverless cars will make the transition to electric vehicles easier since theses vehicles could travel further on a single battery charge. Opponents claim driverless cars will not reduce fuel consumption since they will allow more people to “drive” including those under 16, the elderly, the disabled and those taking medication. They also say this technology could cause public transportation to loose its allure and for urban sprawl to grow. Some worry of accidents resulting from technical problems or unforeseen circumstances. Great Britain has recently announced a pilot program to allow driverless cars on public roads beginning this year.

Pending Legislation: None

I oppose reforming current driverless vehicle policy

I support efforts to identify a legislator who will sponsor a bill to promote the use of driverless vehicle technology

 Posted by at 12:00 am
Jan 152015
 

Geothermal energy is energy that is produced by heat from the Earth. This heat results from decaying radioactive elements in the Earth’s mantle. It is estimated that the thermal energy situated within 6 miles of Earth’s surface contains 50,000 times more energy than the world’s oil and natural gas reserves. Geothermal energy is acquired by tapping into underground reservoirs of heat that are often located near volcanoes, hot springs and geysers. Some geothermal power plants capture steam that naturally vents at these formations. Other plants drill boreholes and pump water into the rock surrounding these geothermal features. In either case, steam is captured in pipes that lead to turbines which turn electrical generators. In 2012, about 0.41% of America’s electricity was produced by geothermal energy. However, nearly 5% of California’s total electricity needs are furnished by its 40 geothermal power plants, led by The Geysers, the largest group of geothermal power plants in the world. Supporters claim geothermal power is clean, sustainable, offers constant output and is grossly underutilized. They also say that geothermal energy can be developed in areas where there is no volcanic activity.

Pending Legislation:

S.362 – Geothermal Exploration and Technology Act of 2013

I oppose reforming current geothermal power policy and wish to defeat S.362

I support establishing a direct loan program for high risk geothermal exploration wells, giving preference to loans to carry out projects that are likely to lead to successful new geothermal electricity production; requiring data from exploratory wells to be used in mapping national geothermal resources; determining the number of wells for each selected geothermal project for which a loan may be made; identifying and mitigating potential environmental impacts; making grants to promote the development of geothermal heat pumps and the direct use of geothermal energy; giving priority to proposals that apply to large buildings, commercial districts, and residential communities, and wish to pass S.362

 Posted by at 12:00 am
Jan 152015
 

About 70% of the gasoline sold in the U.S. is produced by just five oil companies. It is estimated they have recorded at least a trillion dollars in profits since 2002 and most, if not all, have posted 100% profit increases during this time. These corporations also continue reap billions in annual taxpayer subsidies. Consumer advocates claim that for many years, oil companies have maintained high gasoline prices by engaging in uncompetitive behaviors such as collusion, price fixing and consumer price gouging. They say fuel prices have only recently decreased because of a nearly-unprecedented glut of crude oil on the world market, much of it from newly-developed shale oil fields in North Dakota and Texas. They claim low fuel prices will only last until the market stabilizes, after which prices will likely rebound. Since 1973, oil companies have been banned from exporting crude oil abroad, but this ban did not prohibit exports of refined petroleum products. Critics claim oil companies use this loophole to export about 4 million gallons of gasoline, diesel and jet fuel each day, increasing the cost of domestic fuels. Oil companies now wish to repeal the export ban altogether in order to sell crude oil on the world market. And the Obama administration has recently agreed to allow these sales. Opponents wish to reinstitute the crude oil export ban and expand it to include refined petroleum products.

Pending Legislation:

H.R.1190 – Keep America’s Oil Here Act

I oppose reforming current gasoline price control policy and wish to defeat H.R.1190

I support authorizing the Secretary of the Interior to accept bids on any new oil and gas leases of federal lands (including submerged lands) only from bidders certifying that all crude oil produced under such leases, and all refined petroleum products made from such crude oil, shall be offered for sale only in the United States, and wish to pass H.R.1190

I support identifying a legislator who will sponsor a bill authorizing the President to issue temporary orders and regulations, including price caps, to stabilize the price of gasoline

I support identifying a legislator who will sponsor a bill to impose cost-plus price controls on the retail price of gasoline which limit oil company profits to historical levels

 Posted by at 12:00 am
Jan 152015
 

Since 2010, the cost of solar panels has dropped by 50% and this downward trend is expected to continue. Advances in technology are also expected to greatly increase solar panel efficiency. The cost of installing a residential solar system has decreased more than 20% during this time and is now about $4.90/watt. The cost of installing a utility-scale solar system has dropped nearly 46% to $2.60/watt. Coal power plants and large wind turbines produce electricity for installation costs of about $2.10/watt and $2.00/watt respectively. The construction costs for natural gas-fired power plants are around $1.00/watt. Broad estimates of the cost of generating electricity by nuclear power plants range from $4.00 to $10.00 per watt. The total cost of an average residential solar system is now about $30,000. Creative financing, leasing and government subsidies have also contributed to industry growth which is nearly doubling each year. Doubters claim it will take decades for solar power to compete with conventional power plants. However, supporters say the output of large solar farms now being constructed rival that of small nuclear power plants -which create waste, are dangerous, and are much more expensive and time consuming to build. Despite the limitations of night and weather, supporters say there is a significant place for solar power in today’s energy market, and that place is growing.

Pending Legislation:

H.R.596 – Public Lands Renewable Energy Development Act of 2013

I oppose reforming current solar energy policy and wish to defeat H.R.596

I support requiring the Secretary of Interior and the Secretary of Agriculture to establish a wind and solar leasing pilot program under which lease sales are conducted on covered public lands administered by the Secretary concerned to carry out wind and solar energy projects; requiring the Secretaries to jointly determine as to whether to expand the pilot program to apply to all covered public lands, and wish to pass H.R.596

 Posted by at 12:00 am
Jan 152015
 

A wind turbine uses two or three propeller-like blades to convert kinetic energy from the wind into mechanical energy that is used to turn an electric generator. This process is known as wind power. The blade-diameter of the biggest wind turbines can reach 130 feet while the smallest are used for charging batteries and for auxiliary power on boats. A wind farm is a power plant that uses many wind turbines to generate electricity and can cover an extended area of hundreds of square miles. Large grid-connected arrays of wind turbines are becoming an increasingly important source of commercial electricity. Currently, there are no offshore wind farms in the United States. However, projects are under development in wind-rich areas of the East Coast, Great Lakes and Pacific Coast. To expedite the development of this resource, the Department of Interior has approved “wind energy areas” off our coasts and is allowing these projects to move quickly through the approval process. Opponents say wind farms are harmful to birds, whales and other wildlife, and are too noisy to live beside. However, recent studies have shown offshore wind farms act as artificial reefs which attract fish, crustaceans, and seals which feed upon them. Our Interior Department, noting this vast untapped resource, astonishingly claims the potential of offshore wind power offers more than four times our current electricity needs. By the end of 2013, land-based wind power accounted for a third of all our new electrical capacity and produced 4.1% of our power needs, or the equivalent of powering 15.5 million homes. Our first offshore wind farm has recently been approved for construction after winning court cases and federal loan guarantees. The 130-turbine project slated for the shallow waters of Nantucket Sound in Massachusetts is expected to lead the way for many such projects in the future.

Pending Legislation:

S.401 & H.R.924 – Incentivizing Offshore Wind Power Act

I oppose reforming current wind power policy and wish to defeat S.401 & H.R.924

I support allowing a 30% tax credit for investment in a qualifying offshore wind power facility; establishing a qualifying credit for offshore wind facilities program to consider and award certifications for investments eligible for such a credit to qualifying offshore wind facility sponsors, and wish to pass S.401 & H.R.924

 Posted by at 12:00 am
Jan 152015
 

There were about 30 million Americans, young and old, living in our lowest income bracket ten years ago. There are now more than 40 million. This group includes nearly 20% of all American children. These Americans are extremely vulnerable to steep energy price increases since most live on fixed incomes. Seniors, single parents, low wage earners, students and the unemployed are examples of groups that sometimes must choose between heating their homes and eating. The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) helps low-income residents pay for a portion of their home heating and cooling bills by providing federal aid to state governments. The amount of assistance each state receives is based on its weather and number of low-income residents. Each state operates their own LIHEAP program to distribute this aid, often relying on community action agencies, non-profits or localities to administer this program. Each year, an estimated 7 million households rely on LIHEAP to keep warm. Since 2010, when LIHEAP had only enough resources to support one in four eligible households, its budget has been cut from $4.7 billion to about $3 billion today, a 30% reduction.

Pending Legislation:

H.R.835 – Energy Assistance for American Families Act

I oppose reforming current consumer electricity assistance policy and wish to defeat H.R.835

I support amending the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Act of 1981 to authorize appropriations for 2014-2018; permitting a state to use any allotment from such appropriations to assist households whose income does not exceed 75% of the state median income, and wish to pass H.R.835

 Posted by at 12:00 am
Jan 152015
 

Conserving energy enables us to both protect our environment and strengthen national security by reducing our need to extract, burn and import oil and coal. There are many ways to reduce our dependence on these fossil fuels including the use of efficient heating and lighting systems, alternative fuels and materials to insulate our buildings and homes. Although there are few opponents of energy conservation, these measures can be costly. The federal government offers tax incentives and low interest loans for this purpose. Advocates claim the most effective way to conserve energy is for consumers to decrease their demand for it. This can be done by reducing our use of electrical appliances, heated water, and climate control systems. The Federal Government itself is a large consumer of electricity, using more than 2% of our nation’s power on its buildings.

Pending Legislation:

H.R.1659 – Federal Buildings Energy Savings Act of 2013

I oppose reforming current energy conservation policy and wish to defeat H.R.1659

I support directing each federal agency to implement requirements for the use of energy and water efficiency measures in federal buildings; directing agencies to include in energy savings performance contracts appropriate termination clauses for facilities that will or may close before the end of a contract’s term; supporting the use of electric vehicles or the fueling or charging infrastructure necessary for such vehicles including measures to finance the acquisition or use of such vehicles or their fueling infrastructure among energy efficiency, water conservation, or electricity demand management programs in which agencies are authorized and encouraged to participate, and wish to pass H.R.1659

 Posted by at 12:00 am
Jan 152015
 

Many people have expressed the need to modernize and upgrade our electrical transmission system to a unified smart grid. A smart grid system would employ a nation-wide ‘backbone’ of high voltage transmission lines that connect ‘smart’ local electric utilities to distant power plants. As local utility networks are upgraded to smart grids, interactions with this backbone become more coordinated. A smart grid would maximize the efficiency of our nation’s electricity use, while greatly reducing waste and loss. Hydropower from the northwest could then be directed the Dakotas if that area’s winds, and wind turbine output, have decreased. Solar power from Arizona would be able to supply manufacturing in Ohio, or evening wind power from the Northeast could be used to supply power peak demand during the day in Nevada. Environmentalists say a unified smart grid and renewable power sources are essential to reducing our carbon emissions. The cost of a unified smart grid has been estimated at $400-$500 billion. Smart grid opponents claim these grandiose national plans sound fine. But for many people, our current smart grid consists of wireless transmitters in ‘smart’ utility meters and home appliances that can’t be turned off, and that many people do not seem to want. These transmitters tell our utility companies the amount of energy we are using and how we are using it. During power shortages, some utilities have the ability to cycle the compressors of home air conditioners rather than allow them to run continuously. Some people opposed to this aspect of the smart grid are worried about privacy concerns, while others prefer not to have microwave transmitters in their proximity. It is currently the choice of a consumer whether to have these smart meters installed.

Pending Legislation:

H.R.2685 – Smart Grid Advancement Act of 2013

I oppose reforming current smart grid policy and wish to defeat H.R.2685

I support requiring utilities to install smart meter technology in all American homes and businesses and wish to pass H.R.2685

 Posted by at 12:00 am
Jan 152015
 

Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is the process of using pressurized liquid to crack rock deep underground so previously inaccessible hydrocarbons, such as natural gas, can be extracted. This technique calls for several million gallons of water mixed with sand and toxic chemicals to be injected at high pressure into a well to create fractures deep underground. These cracks form conduits along which natural gas, petroleum and fracking fluids migrate into the well for extraction. More than a million U.S. fracking operations have already been undertaken. Proponents point to the benefits of home-produced energy such as jobs, improved national security and reduced air pollution from this cleaner-burning fuel. Opponents point to the adverse environmental impacts of fracking including contamination of ground water, depletion of fresh water, and toxic waste water disposal. It is estimated that our fracking operations produced 280 billion gallons of wastewater in 2012 –or enough to flood all of Washington, D.C. in a 22-foot deep toxic lagoon. Health advocates warn of the likelihood of carcinogenic chemicals being used in the fracking process, but this industry has refused to disclose which chemicals it pumps into fracking wells. This refusal goes unchallenged because the Bush administration granted exceptions for fracking chemicals in the protections provided by the 1974 Safe Drinking Water Act. Fracking opponents also warn of the risks to air quality and climate change due to significant methane releases during the fracking process. Advocates claim natural gas is not a bridge to a clean energy future because methane, the main component of natural gas, is 72 times more potent than carbon dioxide in causing climate change. Methane leakage from fracking wells could negate the benefits of lower carbon emissions that come from burning natural gas. Advocates caution that fracking will increase overall emissions since cheap natural gas encourages more energy use and slows the development of renewable fuel technology. New research also suggests these oil and gas drilling operations may cause small on-site earthquakes as well as make local fault zones sensitive to shock waves from large distant quakes. A recent study found that a strong earthquake which occurs halfway around the world can set off small to moderate quakes near fracking operations.

Pending Legislations:

S.1135 & H.R.1921 – FRAC Act To amend the Safe Drinking Water Act to repeal a certain exemption for hydraulic fracturing, and for other purposes

S.1234 & H.R.2513 – Fracturing Regulations are Effective in State Hands Act

I oppose reforming current fracking policy and wish to defeat H.R.1135 & H.R.1921 and S.1234 & H.R.2513

I support amending the Safe Drinking Water Act to repeal the exemption from restrictions on underground injection of fluids or propping agents granted to hydraulic fracturing operations relating to oil and natural gas production activities under such Act; requiring disclosure of the chemicals and proppants intended for use in underground injections before the commencement of such operations and the chemicals used after the end of such operations, and wish to identify a legislator who will either reintroduce S.1135 or H.R.1921 – FRAC Act To amend the Safe Drinking Water Act to repeal a certain exemption for hydraulic fracturing, and for other purposes (113th Congress 2013-2014), or a similar version thereof

I support removing federal jurisdiction over fracking operations and allowing states to have the sole authority to promulgate or enforce any regulation, guidance or permit requirement regarding the treatment of a well by the application of fluids under pressure to which propping agents may be added for the expressly designed purpose of initiating or propagating fractures in a target geologic formation in order to enhance production of oil, natural gas, or geothermal production activities, and wish to identify a legislator who will either reintroduce S.1234 or H.R.2513 – Fracturing Regulations are Effective in State Hands Act (113th Congress 2013-2014), or a similar version thereof

 Posted by at 12:00 am
Jan 152015
 

Until a 30-year moratorium expired in 2012, oil exploration and drilling off our Atlantic and Pacific coasts had been prohibited. However, by recently approving the use of sonic cannons to locate energy deposits deep beneath the ocean floor, our current administration has recently decided to allow oil exploration and drilling off our Atlantic coast. It has estimated that about 5 billion barrels of recoverable oil and 38 trillion cubic feet of recoverable natural gas lie beneath federal waters from Florida to Maine. Even so, past court decisions have upheld the right of a state to ban drilling if it threatens its coast or fisheries. Unhappy environmentalists are worried about the use of sonic cannons, which shoot sound waves 100 times louder than a jet engine, into waters shared by whales and turtles. They, along with fishing and tourism advocates, fear an oil spill or accident could irreparably damage coastal ecosystems along with the industries they support. The memory of the ecosystem damage resulting from BP’s 210 million gallon Gulf oil spill in 2010 is still fresh in the minds of many. They claim these ecosystems have still not recovered, and say there remain many risks in the business of deepwater drilling which oil companies are not prepared for.

Pending Legislation:

H.R.2231 – Offshore Energy and Jobs Act

I oppose offshore oil drilling and wish to identify a legislator who will sponsor a bill to renew the 30-year drilling moratorium which prohibits oil extraction off our coastlines

I support developing a five-year oil and gas leasing program, to determine a specified domestic strategic production goal for the development of oil and natural gas as a result of that program; implementing a leasing program that includes at least 50% of the available unleased acreage within each outer Continental Shelf planning area considered to have the largest undiscovered, technically recoverable oil and gas resources, and wish to pass H.R.2231

 Posted by at 12:00 am