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Hillary Clinton’s energy plan

Posted by Jon on 6 November, 2007

Hillary Clinton’s campaign has released an outline of her energy plan. Although there aren’t many details, it’s actually not that bad. There is, at the least, a recognition of the economic benefits, particularly new job creation, that would come with a fundamental shift towards greener energy and economic activity. Her proposed Carbon Reduction Mortgage Association would be a good first step towards building more efficient and sustainable housing.

She does not, however, seem to propose much change in the transportation arena. Increased automobile efficiency and greater emphasis on biofuels and electrics – that seems to be the sum of it. Nor is there any real recognition of the major and interrelated problems – as yet relatively undiscussed by high-profile candidates – that loom in regards to energy and culture.

1. No emphasis on shifting away from car-dependent/car-normative culture as it has developed in the US over the past three-quarters of a century. More efficient cars are good, and cars that can run on a wider variety of fuels are good – but these are both band-aid solutions given the larger issues of peak oil, suburban sprawl and the decimation of urban neighborhoods. We could live comfortably and well with relatively few cars and well-developed urban areas and rail systems. I don’t think we can continue to live with – or should wish to continue to live with – car-centered lives even if efficiency measures were sufficient to support such lifestyles. They are not sufficient however, which makes the lack of broader and more transformative visions of how to deal with energy scarcity even more inadequate.

2. Hillary’s plan doesn’t seem to address peak oil issues in any direct way. I hope they play a factor in the development of the plan, but until these issues become at least as widely embedded in public consciousness as global warming we won’t even start to have a serious chance to address the issue. Of course, global warming hasn’t been in addressed in much more than lip service – so maybe not even then.

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