Fed up with the undue influence of the energy companies, utilities, lobbyists and other interests that are making it impossible for Washington to move forward decisively in achieving America’s clean energy future, Western Colorado Congress and 35 other citizen organizations (with more than 1.1 million combined members) are joining forces to advance a nine-point “American Clean Energy Agenda”. The groups are pushing for a serious renewable energy agenda no matter who is the next President or which party controls Congress.
The new American Clean Energy Agenda calls for a number of bold steps, including:
WCC President Gretchen Nicholoff said, “We’re optimistic about Colorado’s ability to transition smoothly further toward a clean, renewable energy future. Our state could even serve as a national leader, if decision-makers listen to citizens, not oil & gas or coal industries.”
Organized by the nonprofit Civil Society Institute (CSI) and the Environmental Working Group (EWG), the emergence of the new network of citizen-run organizations reflects a deep dissatisfaction among Americans about the iron grip maintained by the energy industry and its lobbyists in promoting the non-solution of an “all of the above” approach to energy that would preserve the worst options and dilute the focus on real solutions.
How do the three dozen groups know they reflect the thinking of the vast majority of Americans? On April 25, 2012, the Civil Society Institute released a national opinion poll conducted by ORC International found that:
CSI President Pam Solo said: “It is time for the communities who are suffering the ill effects of fracking, mountaintop mining, and other forms of wasteful and dangerous energy production to have a say in moving America to a clean energy future. The political power of the energy industry has deferred a clean energy agenda at the expense of the health and safety of too many communities in the country.”
“To those who will say that these groups do not have a place at the policy-making table,” Solo continued, “we say this: These are exactly the people who need to be heard. The harms caused by continued reliance on fossil fuels and nuclear power may not be felt in the Hart Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill, but they are experienced in the heartland of this nation. We do not have the money, the water or the time to waste delaying and deferring serious solutions to these hidden costs of relying on an old energy path. This agenda puts the burden of proof on those who claim that coal can be clean, fracking natural gas is not harmful, and nuclear power is safe. It is time for reason and precaution over politics. The health of Americans and our environment can no longer be made a secondary priority behind energy development at any price.”
Heather White, chief of staff, Environmental Working Group, said: “Whether it be oil and shale gas drilling, coal mining or nuclear energy, this coalition of grassroots experts have witnessed firsthand the devastating impacts of mountaintop mining removal, fracking for natural gas, uranium mining and nuclear waste. We’ve banded together to take back our clean energy future from the seemingly all-powerful big oil, natural gas and energy companies that continue to spend hundreds of millions of dollars to keep us trapped in a dirty energy economy. As this research shows, the vast majority of Americans agree that we need clean, renewable energy, and don’t want big subsidies flowing to oil and nuclear companies. They want us to invest in energy efficiency, renewable and technology to ensure an economically viable and livable economy. We must make a clear choice that will put the nation on the right track to clean energy future.”
As signed by the supporting citizen organizations, the American Clean Energy Agenda statement reads, in part as follows: “The time is now for a new, grassroots-driven politics to bring about a renewable energy future. As Congress debates major new public investments in energy, we need to ensure that our taxpayer dollars support an energy system that protects public health, promotes energy independence and ensures the economic well being of all Americans.
“The precautionary principle must be the lodestar for the effort to create a new energy future for America that goes “beyond business as usual.” In the energy sphere, the core of the precautionary principle is to prevent degradation of the environment, protect public health, preserve access to clean water, sustain the electric grid and combat global climate change, all while laying the basis for an adequate standard of living for today’s populations and future generations .
“We, the undersigned, agree to this fundamental principle and further commit to work toward a truly renewable, sustainable energy standard that built on the following shared premises:
The other 35 organizations joining together to support the agenda are: Appalachian Citizens Law Center; Catskill Citizens for Safe Energy; Chesapeake Climate Action Network; Christians for the Mountains; Citizens Action Coalition of Indiana; Citizens’ Greener Evanston; Civil Society Institute; Clean Air Council; Coal River Mountain Watch; Community Environmental Defense Council; Dakota Resource Council; Environmental Advocates of New York; Environmental Working Group; GRACE Communications Foundation; Healthy Planet; Kentuckian Coalition; Long Island Progressive Coalition; Northern Plains Resource Council; Nuclear Information and Resource Service; Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition; Oregon Rural Action; Otsego 2000; Partnership for Policy Integrity; Physicians, Scientists, and Engineers for Sustainable and Healthy Energy; Powder River Basin Resource Council; Renewable Energy Long Island; Responsible Drilling Alliance; Shut Down Indian Point Now; Southern Alliance for Clean Energy; Statewide Organizing for Community Empowerment; VT Citizens Action Network; West Michigan Jobs Group; Western Organization of Resource Councils; and Women’s Energy Matters.