| This year brings the third iteration of Energize America, a netroots project launched in 2006 by a group of Kossacks including A Siegel and Jérôme a Paris of European Tribune. This year's panel is heavy on Democratic candidates - US Senate candidates Jeff Merkley and Mark Begich are here, as is Debbie Cook, who is of course running for Crazy Dana's seat in CA-46. It's great to see them taking such a lead on energy policy.
[Update] Jérôme opens with a chart showing where oil was in 2006 - $75/bbl. We're nearly double that today. "If you're just grumbling it's not high enough yet."
Provides a good overview of Peak Oil. The only way out is demand destruction - "you're going to have to stop burning oil whether we like it or not." The only issue is how we will destroy demand - whether it's forced upon us without any plan or whether we can plan for the inevitable.
Mark Sumner - "anybody who thinks we can drill our way out is crazy" - oil producing nations are heading into decline, so there's not enough oil on the North Slope or off our own coast in California to make up for this ongoing decline. Points out that the estimates of high costs and lost jobs from the 1990 Clean Air Act never materialized - so why should we trust industry/right-wing estimates being floated today?
A Siegel floats a 5-part agenda for progress: improve capacity for change, 50 state impact, public-private and fed-state-local partnerships, not a comprehensive solution, and establish freshman class (in Congress) leadership. This last part is vital - Democrats are doing an extremely poor job in Congress on energy issues. New blood can help turn that failure around.
Debbie Cook is up now - the peakists haven't yet won, we still have work to do explaining peak oil. Our national policy agenda is "more of the same" - drill, flatten mountains, starve people to put corn into our gas tanks. She is really good on this - clear and engaged.
Cook makes a point I've personally argued but never seen anyone else point out - we lived perfectly happy lives in America before the oil age. We don't need oil to find prosperity and contentment. Extolling walkable communities and community gardens. Red meat (to me at least!).
What will we look like in 50 years? Uses her town, Huntington Beach, as an example of change - from oil derricks to new density (though not nearly enough of it).
Mark Begich up now - currently mayor of Anchorage and candidate against Tubes Stevens in Alaska. It is VERY significant that he is here - for an Alaskan politician to speak out against new drilling, drilling that results in an actual check to Alaska residents, is a welcome act of reality that more Democrats would do well to emulate.
Most of his talk is about retrofitting existing buildings and cities to be more energy efficient. It's useful but not exactly bold.
Jeff Merkley is at the podium, currently the speaker of the Oregon House and running against Gordon Smith. Now we need "Energy Smart Congress" to complement the other Energy Smart projects. Amen to that. Sort of a campaign speech as opposed to the policy-focused talks that came before.
Q&A over the flip.