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Proposal Details

Proposal ID519
ProposalPLATFORM: Energy
PresenterPlatform Committee presenter, Green Party of Washington sponsor
Floor ManagerDavid Strand
Discussion07/26/2010 - 08/08/2010
Voting08/09/2010 - 08/15/2010
Presens Quorum31 0.6666
Consens Quorum68 0.6666 of Yes and No Votes


GPUS Bylaws Article IX. Platform states:

9-1.1 The GPUS Platform represents policies upon which most Greens would agree and serves as a basis for Green Presidential and Congressional campaigns. The Platform may only be amended as provided by this Article.

9-1.3 In even numbered years in which there is no Presidential Nominating Convention, the National Committee shall be the decision-making body responsible for amending the platform. The process shall be as established in the GPUS Rules and Procedures.

9-1.4 Amendments to the Platform may be submitted for consideration by any accredited state party or caucus, or any committee whose Mission Statement authorizes it.


Section Title: 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 unsurvivable.

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 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 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 voluntarily 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. End the Use of 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 can remain hazardous for thousands of years and there is no way to isolate it from the biosphere for the durations 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. The Green Party calls for a ban on mountaintop removal coal mining. With limited supplies, and in the absence of commercially viable "clean coal" carbon sequestration, which is many decades away, coal is neither an economically nor environmentally sustainable solution.

d. Greens call for the cessation of development of fuels produced with polluting, energy-intensive processes or from unsustainable or toxic feedstocks, 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. (See Water and Air section concerning dirty extraction methods such as "fracking" or "hydro-fracking.")

f. Due to serious negative impacts on food, soil, and water, Greens oppose biofuels production except for small-scale production such as that from used vegetable oils. Further, we oppose the use of biomass as an energy source on a large scale because of the adverse impacts it will have on our forests, soils, and natural habitats. Biomass from landfills may pose problems of air pollution if incinerators are used.

4. Plan for Decentralized, Bio-Regional 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. 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

a. Investment: Enormous amounts of investment capital will be needed to accomplish the energy transition, much more than the promise of $150 billion for renewable energy over ten years, and must now come from government.

b. Coordination: The energy transition will be complex and comprehensive, and its various strategies will be mutually impacting. For example, efforts to redirect transport away from highways and toward rail service will need to be coordinated with manufacturers, farmers, retailers, and employers. An independent federal Energy Transition Office should track and manage the transition.

c. Education: Community colleges should prepare workers for new job opportunities, e.g., sustainable food production, renewable energy installation, grid rebuilding, rail expansion, public transport construction, and home energy retrofitting. Grade school curriculum should include gardening programs in all schools and increased emphasis on energy conservation.

d. Public Messaging & Goal Setting: Our leaders must instill in the nation a sense of collective struggle and of a long journey toward a clear goal. The success of a project of this scope will require public buy-in at every stage and level, including the use of language and images to continually underscore what is at stake, to foster a spirit of cooperation and willing sacrifice.

Business leaders, advertising agencies and even Hollywood must be enlisted, a quid pro quo for government bail out of banks and corporations. Grassroots initiatives, such as the Transition Towns movement, could lead the way toward voluntary community efforts. A sophisticated, interactive, web-based program would inspire action and provide resources. Ratepayers should get full disclosure of the specific electric generating facilities used to produce their electricity.

A series of challenging yet feasible targets should be set, with the ultimate goal - complete freedom from fossil fuel dependency - to be achieved by 2050. The federal government should take the lead by setting targets for federal facilities. Achievement of annual targets should be cause for public celebration.




Visit the Platform Committee webpage for this proposal at:
On the webpage, you can see various formats of the proposal created by the GPUS Platform Committee and the amendment proposal sponsors including the 2004 and 2010 texts side-by-side. You can also read and respond to comments from Greens around the country, including many who are not on the Green National Committee.

Here is the 2004 text of the section being amended:

Chapter 3: Ecological Sustainability

Section Title: Energy

Our energy use and abuse is at the core of many environmental and even social problems. With less than 5% of the world’s population, the U.S. consumes more than 25% of the world’s oil, gas and electricity. Major damage to land, air and water around the world has resulted from such industries as mining, drilling, transportation, pipelines, and generation of toxic and radioactive wastes. Our oil and gas addiction in particular has led to wars and human rights abuses in many countries.

We advocate strong energy policies at all levels of government to shift decisively away from polluting energy systems towards reduced energy use and clean energy sources.

We oppose energy utility deregulation. We support strong protections for electricity and natural gas consumers. These protections can only occur in a locally-controlled, fully regulated energy system that directly links generation with transmission and distribution. We recognize that deregulation and its reliance on markets – as opposed to state-based regulations – is incapable of providing affordable, reliable and clean energy. We support state efforts to regain control over electricity by establishing democratic, public control systems to locally coordinate supply and demand and by eliminating energy trading. Consumers deserve full disclosure of the specific electric generating facilities used to produce their electricity. We support net-metering to make decentralized energy production economically viable.

Energy management must be governed by the principle of conservation, efficiency, and clean renewables. Of highest importance is to use less, then to use wisely, and to have clean production of what is used. We advocate strong public policies to widely deploy conservation, efficiency, and clean renewable energy technologies. 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.

Conservation and Efficiency

1. Extensive conservation measures will bring huge resource savings for both the economy and the environment. Europe already consumes less than half of the electricity consumed per capita in the U.S. We call for extensive energy conservation efforts, with a goal of reducing energy consumption by 50% in 20 years.

2. We support efforts to decentralize regional electric grids by promoting energy efficiency and localized clean renewable energy. Tax-exempt bonds should be authorized to finance public ownership of utilities and to allow publicly owned utilities to finance conservation, energy efficiency, and renewable energy projects.

Clean Renewables

3. The U.S. is blessed with tremendous renewable energy potential, enough to meet the entire electric demand of the country. We call for a Manhattan Project-level of commitment to developing clean renewable energy technologies – technologies that do not create pollution in the course of generating electricity. These can include wind, solar, ocean power, geothermal, and small-scale hydro. Since even clean renewable energy can have negative environmental impacts, care must be taken to minimize such impacts. Clean renewable energy does not include nuclear power, any sort of combustion or process in which by-products are ultimately combusted, or hydroelectric dams that block entire rivers.

4. The Green Party calls for federal commitment to the mass-production of cheap, non-toxic solar photovoltaic technology to enable widespread deployment of solar power. To make solar more cost-competitive, we support large-scale government purchases of solar cells for installation on government facilities.

5. We support efforts of individuals and institutions to voluntarily purchase wind and solar power products through tradable renewable energy certificates. However, there are limits to the volunteer, market-based approach to promoting clean energy. Just as we cannot expect that individual purchases of organic food will cause all food production to become organic, we cannot expect that voluntary approaches will be sufficient to fully replace current energy supplies with clean energy, since only a tiny percentage of the energy supply can be affected by a volunteer purchasing approach.

Fuels for Transportation and Heating

6. Oil and gas are the primary fuels used for transportation and heating. U.S. dependence on oil and gas has driven an unparalleled assault on the global environment and on human rights in many nations. We call for major reductions in fuel consumption as we prepare for a fuel system based on clean hydrogen production and the use of fuel cells.

7. We support the use of hydrogen as an energy storage medium, which makes it possible to operate a decentralized grid on intermittent energy generation methods, such as solar and wind. Fuel cells (using hydrogen sourced from water and separated by electrolysis with power provided by clean, renewable energy technologies) should be used to efficiently distribute electricity as needed. We oppose the use of nuclear technologies or carbon-based feedstocks for hydrogen production.

8. We oppose the development of environmentally-destructive “alternative” fuels produced from unsustainable or toxic feedstocks, such as genetically-engineered crops, coal, or waste streams contaminated with persistent toxins.

9. With regard to heating fuels, we support building codes for new construction that incorporate the best available energy conservation designs. New construction should be required to achieve substantial portions of its heating energy from the sun. For existing homes and buildings, we support programs to aid in their weatherization and increased energy efficiency.

10. 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.

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