And they’re off!
Last night the Michigan Energy & Environment for Obama Team kicked off its effort to reelect President Obama at the Arbor Brewing Company in Ann Arbor. Environmental luminaries from around the state were in attendance in cluding Ken Berlin, the Director of the National Energy & Environment Team.
Berlin told us that the team formed 18 months go because “The environment is under bitter attack and needs to be defended. No one is going to do that if we don’t do it ourselves.”
Berlin says that cap-and-trade, a concept that actually originated with Republicans, will not be possible for “a very long time” because the GOP is “bitterly opposed to it” now.
Still, we have made progress and continue to do so. In 2010, 43% of the new energy installations were wind energy projects. However, because the tax incentives for wind expire at the end of the year, “not one new order for new wind turbines has been placed since January 1st.” This, he says, shows how important it is to preserve these tax incentives while the fledgling industry gets on its feet.
The goal of a 30% reduction in CO2 emissions by 2030 is achievable, Berlin said, but only if we reelect Barack Obama because of his support of green energy.
Also speaking were two of the co-chairs for the Michigan EE-Team. First, we heard from Lisa Wozniak. She reminded us that the first session of the 112th Congress was the most vehemently anti-environment of any Congress in our lifetime. However, she said, “Appointments matter”. She pointed to the appointment of Lisa Jackson to head up the EPA, Steven Chu as Energy Secretary and Michigan’ own Lana Pollack as the Chair of the U.S. Section, International Joint Commission with Canada as examples.
She also pointed out the progress that has been made despite the GOP headwind citing increases in federal CAFE standards, investments in high speed rail and the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.
Skip Pruss, another EE-Team co-chair noted that, under President Obama, we now have, for the first time, a comprehensive national energy plan. He also pointed to investments being made in advanced energy storage (batteries, e.g.), increases in solar power installations (up 109% in 2011) and a favorable balance in trade in solar power goods despite China’s attempt to dominate that field as reasons why President Obama is the clear choice for environmentalists in 2012.
The other two co-chairs for the EE-Team are former MI-07 Congressman Mark Schauer and Rebekah Warren of Ann Arbor.
[Image credit: Anne C. Savage, used with permission]