Where Dr. Stein Stands on Energy

This blog is the third in a series of blogs examining the energy positions of Presidential candidates Mitt Romney, Barack Obama, Jill Stein and Gary Johnson.  SACE staff Chris Carnevale and Jennifer Rennicks contributed to this post. Note: The Southern Alliance for Clean Energy does not support or oppose candidates or political parties. Links to reports, candidate websites and outside sources are provided as citizen education tools.

Dr. Jill Stein is the presidential candidate for the Green Party of the United States. So where does Stein, and the Green Party, stand on energy policy? The Green Party generally opposes nuclear energy, fossil fuels including coal, oil and natural gas, and strongly supports renewable energy. I haven’t been able to find a completely updated version of the Green Party or Jill Stein’s energy policy, but below is a word cloud from the Green Party’s 2005 energy agenda.

A few notable items from this word cloud are the words “global”, “warming”, and “green”, “clean” and “energy.” Also, notice there are sizable contributions from “conservation” and “efficiency.” While a word cloud isn’t completely indicative of a party’s intricate policy positions, it is somewhat illuminating to a party’s priorities. Let’s look at a few specifics from Dr. Jill Stein.

Oil, Gas, Coal (Fossil Fuels)

Stein opposes the use of fossil fuels. She’s calling for the end of mountain top removal mining for coal and the end of hydrofracking for natural gas. Her plan outlines phasing out all coal plants, ending subsidies for coal and halting the Keystone XL oil pipeline. While Stein supports the long-term goal of completely ceasing the use of fossil fuel, her near-term plan stops short of calling for an end of use of all oil and natural gas and instead calls for a reduction in oil use.

Nuclear

Stein opposes the use of nuclear energy for safety and economic concerns. She criticized President Obama’s decision to offer loan guarantees to nuclear power plant construction in Georgia, calling the decision his “worst idea yet.” Stein would phase out all nuclear power.

Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency

Stein supports converting to 100% renewable energy generation and strong energy conservation and efficiency programs. The Green Party energy agenda from 2005 goes into greater policy detail: “Examples include tax credits, renewable portfolio standards, research programs, loans and grants. Existing policies that currently benefit nuclear power, combustion technologies or large hydroelectric dams should be eliminated and reallocated to conservation, efficiency, wind and solar power. ”

Electric Vehicles

It’s difficult to determine what Jill Stein would do, specifically, for electric vehicles, but the Green Party generally supports mass transit, walking/biking communities and opposes gasoline use. Non-fossil fuel vehicles are encouraged and promoted by the Green Party.

Climate Change & Carbon Pollution

Stein aims to create a “binding international treaty to reduce atmospheric carbon dioxide to levels deemed safe by scientific analysis to reduce global warming.” She calls climate change “the biggest threat facing the U.S. and the planet” and seeks to spur climate action by enacting the Green New Deal, which is the Green Party’s plan to create green jobs and stimulate the economy through investment in energy efficiency, renewable energy, clean transit, sustainable agriculture, and more.

Summary

Stein opposes fossil fuels and nuclear energy while supporting renewable energy and energy efficiency. While it isn’t surprising that these are the positions of the Green Party’s candidate for president, what is surprising is it was so difficult to find these positions. This blog borrowed information from the Green Party’s 2005 platform, a fair amount from the candidate’s “Issues” page, and a few press releases and blog posts scattered here and there. If you’re interested in Jill Stein, you’ll likely have to do a lot more digging – the candidate’s webpage is probably the best, although not the only, resource available for your research. Below is a map showing states where ballots will contain Jill Stein’s name for the Presidency.

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The way to satisfy both Republicans and Democrats is through new technology for energy cheaper than coal. Republicans fear that carbon taxes will put the US at an economic disadvantage to exempted developing nations. Democrats fear that continuing CO2 emissions will increase global warming with disastrous consequences for water and food. Both are right.The US has the capability to develop advanced nuclear power technologies that can produce energy cheaper than coal. Making such clean, safe power plants available globally is the only way to convince 7 billion people in 250 nations from burning coal — economic self interest.The liquid fluoride thorium reactor (LFTR), originally developed by Oak Ridge National Laboratories, is now being refined by China, while the US fails to harvest this technology that could check global warming, end energy poverty, and as well lead to a $70 billion export industry. The new book about this,THORIUM: energy cheaper than coal, is described at http://www.thoriumenergycheaperthancoal.com thorium


Comment by Robert Hargraves on September 13, 2012 10:50 am


The Green Party 2012 platform on energy is here http://www.gp.org/committees/platform/2012/ecological-sustainability.php


Comment by Ann on September 13, 2012 6:06 pm


For those who are not inclined to go ahead and click links, here is part of the Green Party’s Energy Policy from that 2012 Platform found on the gp.org website. There is more to read there if your particular question isn’t answered.

1. Strong International Climate Treaty

Support a strong international climate treaty under the auspices of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. The United States must do far better than its offer in Copenhagen to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 4% below 1990 levels. We should support at least a 40% reduction by 2020 and 95% reduction by 2050, over 1990 levels.

2. Economic Policy For A Safer Climate

a. Enact a Fee & Dividend system on fossil fuels to enable the free market to include the environmental costs of their extraction and use. These fees shall be applied as far upstream as possible, either when fuel passes from extraction to refining, distribution or consumption; or when it first enters the United States’ jurisdiction. The carbon fee will initially be small, a dime per kilogram of carbon, to avoid creating a shock to the economy. The fee will be increased by 10% each year that global atmospheric carbon dioxide content is greater than 350 ppm, decreased 10% each year it’s less than 300 ppm, and repealed entirely when it falls below 250 ppm.

b. Although imported fossil fuel has no more impact on global climate change than domestic, importing petroleum and natural gas has a catastrophic impact on American foreign policy and the American economy. We will enact this same fee on imported fossil fuels a second time to give the free market an incentive to wean America off foreign oil and gas.

c. The Green Party calls for elimination of subsidies for fossil fuels, nuclear power, biomass and waste incineration and biofuels. We must also acknowledge that the bulk of our military budget is, in fact, an indirect subsidy for oil & gas corporations.

d. To prevent perverse incentives arising from higher carbon prices, the Green Party mandates clean fuels in addition to pricing carbon. Otherwise dirty energy sources like nuclear power, biomass and biofuels that are not subject to carbon pricing will become economically competitive.

3. Repay Our Climate Debt

a. Pay for adaptation to climate change in countries with less responsibility for climate change.

b. Provide a carbon neutral development path for those countries that can no longer be permitted to develop in the same way we did – by burning cheap fossil fuels.

4. More Efficiency And Conservation

a. Adopt energy efficiency standards that reduce energy demand economy-wide by 50% over the next 20-30 years. The U.S. can make massive reductions in its energy use through a combination of conservation and efficiency measures. We don’t actually need any additional power. Instead, we can and should reduce our consumption of power.

b. Build an efficient, low cost public transportation system. The best incentive we can provide to live closer to work and reduce the use of private vehicles is to make the alternative inexpensive and convenient to use.

c. Adopt a national zero waste policy. The less we consume and throw away, the less we will need to produce and replace.

5. Clean, Green Energy and Jobs

a. Create an inclusive program to train workers for the new, clean energy economy. Focusing on both the environment and social justice, prioritize the creation of green jobs in communities of color and low-income communities.

b. Adopt a clean energy portfolio standard that rapidly replaces our combustion-based power sources with wind, solar, ocean, small-scale hydro, and geothermal power.

c. End the use of nuclear power. Nuclear energy is massively polluting, dangerous, financially risky, expensive and slow to implement. Our money is better spent on wind, solar, geothermal, conservation and small-scale hydroelectric.

d. Stop “dirty clean energy.” Many of the “solutions” offered in climate legislation aren’t real solutions. Biomass incineration (trees, crops, construction debris and certain types of waste), landfill gas and many types of biofuels will dump massive quantities of toxic pollutants into the air and water, and some of these energy sources produce more greenhouse gas emissions than coal. Natural gas is primarily methane, which is 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas. Consequently, when pipeline leakage is considered, the clean-burning characteristics of natural gas can be lost, resulting in a fuel with climate impacts as bad as coal. Biomass and biofuels will also increase deforestation, contributing to more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

6. Clean, Green Agriculture

a. Convert U.S farm and ranchland to organic practices. Chemical and industrial agriculture produces 35-50% of climate destabilizing greenhouse gases.

b. Switch to local food production and distribution. Localized, organic food production and distribution reduce fossil fuel usage and enriches soil that sequesters more carbon dioxide.

c. Reduce methane, nitrous oxide and other greenhouse gases by rapidly phasing out confined animal feeding operations, and encouraging a reduction in meat consumption.

B. Energy

The United States has a high-energy-consumption economy based mainly on fossil energy. The extraction, refining, and combustion of fossil fuels have proved extremely harmful to the environment, and supplies are rapidly being depleted. Over the past century, the infrastructure of our civilization has become utterly dependent on plentiful oil, coal, and natural gas: vast land, air, and sea transportation networks; increasing dependence on imported goods; industrialized food production dependent on fertilizer and biocides; and sprawling, car-dependent neighborhoods and workplaces. Our electric grid depends on fossil fuels for two-thirds of its energy.

Dirty and dangerous energy sources have generated an unparalleled assault on the environment and human rights. In the U.S., low income communities and communities of color bear the greatest burden of health impacts due to exposure to emissions from coal and gas-fired power plants. Native American communities have been devastated by uranium mining, and the people of Appalachia watch helplessly as their ancient mountains are destroyed for coal-fired electricity. Regional and global peaks in supply are driving up costs and threatening wars and social chaos. (See separate section on catastrophic Climate Change from excess release of carbon dioxide.)

Since 1859 when the first commercial oil well was drilled in Pennsylvania, the global community has consumed about half what nature generated over hundreds of millions of years. Although coal is more abundant than oil, it is inherently dirtier than oil, is limited in terms of its use as a vehicle fuel, and demand is skyrocketing globally for use in electricity generation. Natural Gas is also in high demand for power production and is ultimately finite. We must plan and prepare for the end of fossil fuels now, while we still have energy available to build the cleaner, more sustainable energy infrastructure that we will soon need.

To simply substitute better energy sources in place of fossil fuels is not the answer for two main reasons. First, there are no energy sources (renewable or otherwise) capable of supplying energy as cheaply and in such abundance as fossil fuels currently yield in the time that we need them to come online. Second, we have designed and built our infrastructure to suit the unique characteristics of oil, natural gas, and coal.

The energy transition cannot be accomplished with a minor retrofit of existing energy infrastructure. Just as our fossil fuel economy differs from the agrarian economy of 1800, the post-fossil fuel economy of 2050 will be profoundly different from all that we are familiar with now. Changes would occur if we wait for the price of fossil fuels to reflect scarcity, forcing society to adapt; however, lack of government planning will result in a transition that is chaotic, painful, destructive, and possibly not survivable.

The Green Party advocates a rapid reduction in energy consumption through energy efficiency and a decisive transition away from fossil and nuclear power toward cleaner, renewable, local energy sources. Toward these goals, we advocate:

1. Encourage Conservation

Encourage conservation and a significant decrease in our energy consumption, institute national energy efficiency standards.

With five percent of the world’s population, U.S residents consume twenty-six percent of the world’s energy. U.S. consumption of electricity is almost nine times greater than the average for the rest of the world. These are not sustainable levels.

a. The U.S. must retrofit its building stock for energy efficiency. Most U.S. residents live in homes that require heat during the winter, and most are inadequately insulated. Buildings in the South require air conditioning during the summer. Fuel shortages, power outages, and energy price hikes could bring not just discomfort, but a massive increase in mortality from cold and heat. Millions of buildings can and must be super-insulated and, as much as possible, provided with alternative heat sources (passive solar, geothermal, or district heating).

b. Energy efficiency standards similar to those in California must be adopted nationally. The energy efficiency standards adopted there in the late 1970s have resulted in overall electricity-use remaining flat over the past three decades while the population has steadily increased. During the same time period electricity use in the rest of the U.S. has climbed along with population growth.

c. There are many different ways to increase energy efficiency and the best path for one region of the country might differ from that of another. We will need concerted effort to increase efficiency in every sector of our economy. Technologies exist that, if widely implemented, can result in huge energy savings.

d. Cogeneration and use of waste heat to generate electricity should be encouraged.

e. A carbon tax, which the Green Party supports, would serve as an important market incentive to increase efficiency.

2. Move to Renewable Sources

Move decisively to an energy system based on solar, wind, geo-thermal, marine, and other cleaner renewable energy sources.

The development of Earth-gentle, sustainable energy sources must be a cornerstone of any plan to reduce reliance on conventional fossil fuels. The Green Party advocates clean renewable energy sources such as solar, wind, geothermal, marine-based, and other cleaner renewable sources as the long-term solution.

a. Many other solutions being pushed, including nuclear power, coal, industrial-scale biofuels, and low-grade fossil fuels such as oil shale and tar sands, create more problems than they solve.

b. Further research with increased government support is needed into new energy storage technologies, as well as new cheaper and non-toxic photovoltaic materials and processes, and new geothermal and ocean power technologies.

c. Policy tools to directly support the development of renewable energy sources, such as Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS) and Feed-in Tariffs, should also be reviewed for effectiveness. In general, a feed-in tariff is legislation enacted by the government that requires the large electric utilities to guarantee a price for the renewably generated electricity fed into the grid. When done right, such as in Germany, this policy appears to succeed in harnessing entrepreneurial zeal.

d. State-level financing policies like California’s AB 811 can help homeowners install expensive renewable energy where the county pays the up-front cost and the system is paid for via the homeowner’s property taxes.

e. Greens support voluntary purchase of tradable renewable energy certificates; however, voluntary approaches are not sufficient.

f. Greens support research into advanced fuels when the purpose of the research is to develop a fuel that in its full cycle does not create more problems than it solves. We support the use of hydrogen as an energy storage medium; however we oppose the use of nuclear technologies or carbon-based feedstocks for hydrogen production.

g. We call for a ban on the construction of large-scale and inappropriately-located, hydroelectric dams.

3. Eliminate dirty and dangerous energy sources.

The Green Party advocates the phase-out of nuclear and coal power plants. All processes associated with nuclear power are dangerous, from the mining of uranium to the transportation and disposal of the radioactive waste. Coal is the largest contributor to climate change with estimates as high as 80%.

a. The generation of nuclear waste must be halted. It is hazardous for thousands of years and there is no way to isolate it from the biosphere for the duration of its toxic life. We oppose public subsidies for nuclear power. Cost is another huge factor making it unfeasible, with each new nuclear power plant costing billions of dollars.

b. The Green Party calls for a formal moratorium on the construction of new nuclear power plants, the early retirement of existing nuclear power reactors, and the phase-out of technologies that use or produce nuclear waste, such as nuclear waste incinerators, food irradiators, and all uses of depleted uranium.

c. We call for a ban on mountaintop removal coal mining. With limited supplies and in the absence of commercially viable “clean coal” carbon sequestration, which may never be feasible, coal is neither an economically nor an environmentally sustainable solution.

d. We call for the cessation of development of fuels produced with polluting, energy-intensive processes or from unsustainable or toxic feed stocks, such as genetically-engineered crops, coal and waste streams contaminated with persistent toxics.

e. We oppose further oil and gas drilling or exploration on our nation’s outer continental shelf, on our public lands, in the Rocky Mountains, and under the Great Lakes.

f. Due to serious negative impacts on food, soil, and water, we oppose industrial-scale biofuels production and biomass burning for electric power generation. We approve small scale distributed production under local control, such as production of biodiesel from waste oils, production of charcoal and byproducts from wood wastes or sustainably harvested wood, small scale production of ethanol from crop wastes or maize stalk sugar, or production of fuel gas for localized electricity generation from anaerobic methane digesters or charcoal gasifiers. We do not object to the utilization of fuel gases seeping from landfills, as that is one way to reduce air pollution. We support as a minimum standard the Principles for Sustainable Biomass statement signed by Clean Water Action, Environmental Defense Fund, Environmental Working Group, Friends of the Earth, Geos Institute, Greenpeace USA, National Wildlife Federation, Natural Resources Defense Council, Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, Southern Environmental Law Center, Union of Concerned Scientists, The Wilderness Society, and World Wildlife Fund.

g. Enact a moratorium on hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) until its damaging effects on water and air quality are fully studied and understood. Permanently ban high-volume hydraulic fracturing in sensitive watersheds. Regulate hydraulic fracturing under the Safe Drinking Water Act, Clean Water Act and National Environmental Policy Act, and require public disclosure of the chemicals used in fracturing fluids.

4. Decentralize the Grid

Plan for decentralized, bioregional electricity generation and distribution.

Decentralized power systems are likely to be more resilient in the face of power disruptions and will cut transmission losses, assure citizens greater control of their power grids, and prevent the massive ecological and social destruction that accompanies production of electricity in mega-scale projects.

a. We support “smart grid” upgrades. The federal government must step in to set goals and standards and to provide capital. This effort must not favor commercial utilities over municipal power districts.

b. The Green Party supports net metering to make decentralized energy production economically viable.

c. Greens support tax-exempt bonds to finance public ownership of utilities and to allow publicly owned utilities to finance conservation and renewable energy projects.

d. We oppose deregulation of the energy industry.

5. Re-localize the Food System

De-carbonize and re-localize the food system.

Our national industrial food system is overwhelmingly dependent upon oil and natural gas for farm-equipment fuel, fertilizer, pesticides, herbicides, and the transport. It is responsible for over 12% of all greenhouse gases from human activities in the U.S. New farming methods, new farmers, and a re-localization of production and distribution are needed. These will require land reform, an investment in revitalizing rural areas and the creation of local food processing plants and storage centers. Laws and incentives affecting the food system (including food safety laws and farm subsidies) will need to be rewritten to provide preferential support for small-scale, local, low-input producers.

6. Electrify the Transportation System

Our enormous investment in highways, airports, cars, buses, trucks, and aircraft is almost completely dependent on oil, and it will be significantly handicapped by higher fuel prices, and devastated by actual fuel shortages. The electrification of road-based vehicles is a must and will require at least two decades to fully deploy and we must move to Earth-gentle electricity generation to charge the vehicles. Meanwhile, existing private automobiles must be put to use more efficiently through carpooling, car-sharing, and ride-sharing networks. (See Transportation section for more, including need for dramatic increase in CAFE or gasoline efficiency standards.)

7. Requirements for Energy Transition


Comment by Michal on September 17, 2012 9:20 am


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