Energy Smart Michael

Amid skyrocketing oil, gasoline, coal, and electricity (coming to a neighborhood near you) prices, 2008 offers Americans quite serious and stark choices between knowledgeable, impassioned, and thoughtful candidates when it comes to finding paths toward a prosperous 21st century economy, on the one side, and Fossil-Fool candidates focused on tightening our shackles to the ever-more costly (pollution, financial, otherwise) and archaic oil-coal based energy system.

One of these clear choices comes in America's 'energy capital', Houston, Texas, where former wind power executive Michael Skelly is challenging far-right winger John Culberson.  

Michael was an easy choice for membership in the ranks of the Energy Smart Act Blue page. Join me after the fold for some indications as to why.

First the List

The Energy Smart Act Blue page focuses on challengers who offer an opportunity to change the discussion and votes when it comes to energy and environmental issues in Congress. (For a more complete discussion.) In some cases, these are incredibly "Energy Smart" candidates; in other cases, their opponents are incredibly Energy/Earth Dumb, and, actually, they are mainly both at the same time. What is the Energy Smart Act Blue's core principle?

All of the candidates on this list will help foster a Congress and political climate conducive for more meaningful action toward a Prosperous, Climate Friendly America through dealing with the challenges of Peak Oil and Global Warming.

Houston, Texas, offers the nation a pretty clear case for change, with the chance to retire Energy Dumb Culberson to be replaced with Michael Skelly, who has some real energy (and other) smarts.

Michael Skelly

Let's face facts, Michael Skelly is someone whose life story merits respect ... and retelling.

Notable in that he is running against a serious anti-immigrant Culberson, Skelly came to the United States from Ireland as a two-year old.  They sailed to America aboard the S.S. America. The family truly achieved an American dream, the family having just $200 when disembarking. Skelly went to Notre Dame and Harvard Business School with student loans and Pell Grants.

Skelly helped found and build up Horizon Wind Energy which, a decade later is the third largest wind energy company in the country. Horizon generates enough electricity to meet the needs of nearly one million American homes.

Energy Smart Michael serves on Houston Mayor White's Green Building Advisory Committee, thus having a window not just on supply-side energy issues, but also conservation and efficiency.  

Skelly has an incredibly powerful background to bring to the House floor, innovative and successful businessman in a critical renewable energy arena, able to bring substantive knowledge of business and energy to play amid the Halls of Congress.

And he has strong ideas as well

Energy Smart Michael has just released Skelly Energy Plan: Comprehensive Solutions for a New Energy Future (warning: 10 mb pdf) (summary of Skelly on issues, including energy).  The Skelly Energy Plan is, simply put, both interesting and worthwhile reading.  Let's run through key points:

The Mission has three important goals: reduce energy costs; reduce dependence on foreigh oil; reduce carbon emissions.  This is a pretty reasonable trilogy, seeking economic security, national security, and environmental security.  

Four-part approach. What is welcome is that Skelly does not offer a simplistic, single point solution. He suggests a four-part, intertwined solution path:

  • Efficiency:  Drive energy efficiency through ever stricter standards for transport, appliances, and building. This will save money, create jobs in the economy, and reduce pollution impacts. Skelly points to his experiences on the Green Building Advisory Committee and the window that provides on how Houston construction is benefitting from energy efficiency.  [In the plan, Skelly strongly links efficiency to job creation and economic benefits. he calls for the government to be a leadre. This is a strong section.]
  • Renewable Energy: Strong investment in renewable energy, with 40% of US electricity to come from new renewable power within 20 years. (20% wind, 10% solar, 10% other) Skelly is a strong proponent of the Production Tax Credit as "one of the best ways to encourage private investment." This will create jobs, improve energy security, and reduce Global Warming impact. Again, let's talk economic benefits: roughly 1,000,000 jobs (IN the U.S.) and perhaps $3 billion annually in revenues for local communities.  [While not Gore's 100% carbon-free electricity in a decade, this 40% target is a realistic target to lay out, being laid out by someone whose lived and breathed the challenges of making wind projects reality.]
  • Access to Hydrocarbons:  Skelly supports domestic drilling, to reduce foreign dependencies. He also calls for minimizing the environmental impact of drilling. Skelly emphasizes that "Government needs to be a good fiduciary of our pulbicly owned oil and gas resources. These resources belong to the American people and it's the job o fthe government to make sure Americans are getting the best deal." He emphasizes the importance of reducing foreign dependence while protecting the public interest. "Washington needs to be a smart steward of our resources." Skelly links new production with efficiency as a path to reducing foreign dependency. [He does not, however, deal with the reality that new drilling will not do much for the energy situation for a decade plus ... but I am not necessarily against drilling, as long as it is honestly discussed and understood. Skelly engages in honest discussion when it comes to energy and he understands energy issues.]
  • Carbon Policy:  Skelly supports a Cap & Trade approach to reduce carbon dioxide and other emissions. He proposes a graduated system, with 100% free emissions in year one, but 100% auctioned in year five.  He states that his plan would reduce emissions 50% over the next 15 years. [Okay, I'd like to see details. The target is pretty strong and serious.  But what is the structure? And, this structure favors existing polluters over any new business, at least initially, even if the new business pollutes far less.]
  • One of the most interesting sections is Skelly's Washington Gimmickry, where he takes on "solutions being offered [that] are nothing more than political gimmicks, designed to appease voters without doing anything serious to solve this energy crisis." He discusses five: Gas Tax Holiday; Windfall Profits Tax; Drill Here, Drill Now, Pay Less; Suing OPEC; Releasing Oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. [I am mainly in accord with him on these, even though I think that a SPR release can be part of an Energy Smart solution path forward.]  Here is an example:

    Drill Here, Drill Now, Pay Less: Drilling is an essential component of a long-term energy plan. But suggesting that drilling now will result in cheaper energy prices in the short‐term is extraordinarily disingenuous. Those pushing that line of argument are either misinformed or willfully misinforming voters.

    Not just energy smarts, but political smarts: Skelly is running for Congress, to represent a district, to represent TX-7, Houston, Texas. The plan has a solid page talking about how a smart energy future is smart for Houston. Houston Leadership begins

    Houston is the energy capital of the world. But we didn't earn
    that title because we are sitting on massive reserves. Plenty of other cities had the opportunity to lay claim to that title, but we earned it because of our ability to tap resources by combining our business experience and our technological prowess.

    And, the final substantive element in the Skelly Energy Plan is a good idea that, to be honest, I simply have not seen before.

    Veterans in Renewables Program: With diverse skill sets, unmatched discipline, and a sense of public duty, veterans are ideal employees in a growing renewable energy economy. At his company, Michael recognized the enormous, and too often untapped potential of our veterans. He hired several servicemen and women who were attracted to renewables because they understood the importance of renewable energy to this country. With hundreds of thousands of veterans returning to the United States eager to move forward with productive lives, the green economy provides a perfect opportunity for them. As a Member of Congress, Michael will call for a "Veterans in Renewables" program that will help with job training and job placement for veterans in the renewable energy sector.

    While I would hope this is not soley for Veterans, this is an excellent idea to help America's veterans move into careers securing America in a different way: by helping create a clean energy future for a prosperous, climate-friendly future

    Let me end this as the plan ends.

    "America urgently needs a core group of bipartisan elected officials to forge a new broad based coalition to get the country on a new energy path. Michael Skelly will lead that charge in Congress."

    Matt Simmons, Chairman and CEO of Simmons & Company International, and former presidential energy adviser.

    Some Other Candidates with Real Energy Smarts:

    Debbie Cook, CA-46

    Jeff Merkley, OR-Senate

    Scott Kleeb, NE-Senate

    Jerry "Possum" Northingham, DE-At Large

    And the plea ...

    This November offers the chance for real change, change that we need, change from fossil fuels to and Energy Smart(er) Congress.  If you can, find your way to the Energy Smart Act Blue page and throw a few $XX.01s (or, even better, $XXX.01s, if you can afford) to some truly Energy Smart people who will help change the Congress and America on a better path forward.

    Tags: Climate, Congress, Energy, Energy Smart, Michael Skelly, tx-7 (all tags)

    Comments

    2 Comments

    Re: Energy Smart Michael
    Wow, great diary!
    We need more candidates like this, it's imperative that we get smart thinkers who will help solve the energy crisis with real solutions and not just empty rhetoric.
    Thanks, rec'd!
    by skohayes 2008-09-08 02:56AM | 0 recs
    Re: Energy Smart Michael

    Thank you. Compliments always taken, sometimes even graciously.

    You might be interested in the other Energy Smart candidates that I've discussed (linked in the diary) and the other great candidates on the Energy Smart Act Blue page.  

    These are people worth supporting and worth fighting to get into the halls of Congress -- at least re their energy positions, which is at the core of the challenges that we face.

    by a siegel 2008-09-08 05:44AM | 0 recs

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