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Friday, July 23, 2010

Congress Wimps out on Energy Policy: Time to Conserve!

Heartland Consumer Power District exec Mike McDowell is surely thrilled that obstructionist Republicans like Senator Thune and wimpy Democrats like Representative Herseth Sandlin have killed serious clean energy legislation for now. Instead of imperiling our economy with "heavy-handed expensive government mandates" (i.e., plans like cap and trade, which are empirically proven to reduce pollution and not kill the economy), we can trundle along with a status quo that supports the polluting, irresponsible energy economy that will leave our grandkids nothing to burn but resentment.

But wait: McDowell does have a plan I can work with:

Part of our LEED Platinum commitment is sustainability. This means smarter use and reuse of common consumer products. The positive impact on the environment as well as reducing oil consumption is startling. It can be done with simple changes in behavior, using existing technologies at affordable prices. It can be done without heavy-handed expensive government mandates and without waiting for some silver bullet technology to be developed to make it work [Mike McDowell, "Consumers Can Take LEEDing Steps to Reduce Oil Use," HCPDBlog.com, 2010.07.21].

McDowell and I agree on the power of conservation, and if our Congress can't overcome the Big Oil and Coal lobbies, then conservation is perhaps the best grassroots pocketbook policy we can do. McDowell and I agree that recycling is great. We agree that replacing plastic bags with canvas sacks and backpacks at the grocery store is a great way to reduce oil consumption.

McDowell also points out the remarkable savings to be gained from recycling motor oil:

  • It is easier and cheaper to recycle used oil than to make new oil from crude. One gallon of used oil can produce the same amount of motor oil as 42 gallons of crude oil while requiring about a third of the energy.
  • If all used motor oil in the U.S. were recycled, it would result in a saving of 1.3 million barrels of oil per day.
  • Used oil can be re-refined into good-as-new lubricating oil. Oil never wears out it just gets dirty [McDowell, 2010.07.21].

1.3 million barrels a day. That's more oil than both the Keystone and Keystone XL pipelines will transport at full capacity. One change in our energy practices, recycling our motor oil, could eliminate the need for a massive, environmentally dangerous project and reduce our dependence on dirty foreign oil.

If we can't motivate Congress to change our energy policy, then we'll have to do it ourselves. let's all be conservatives and conserve, conserve, conserve!

1 comment:

  1. Some of the Dems have begun to wimp out on the Bush tax cuts as well. Do they fear November? Shame on them.


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