All other environmental issues – air quality, water quality, land use, and transportation – ultimately are related to energy policy. The most significant challenge our society faces is to continue to provide the energy required for a reasonable quality of life for our population, while meeting the twin threats of fossil fuel depletion and global climate change. The transition to renewable, clean energy will require significant governmental and private investments, but these investments must be made while the price of the energy needed to make the transition is still low enough to permit it.
The Kalamazoo Environmental Council believes that environmental stewardship, economic vitality, and social responsibility will be fostered by an energy policy that has as its goals:
- Transition to a carbon-neutral energy economy in time to avoid the worst effects of climate disruption
- Transition to a renewable energy economy before fossil fuel depletion makes the transition impracticable
- Greater efficiencies in use of energy resources
- Energy production and utilization practices that minimize adverse impacts on human health and the environment
- Energy production and utilization practices that minimize adverse human and environmental health.
To achieve these goals, KEC supports:
- A cap-and-trade or carbon tax that will force a transition away from carbon-intensive fuels by 2050; the proceeds to be used to fund the transition to renewable energy sources, investments in efficiency, and low-income assistance for heating bills and weatherization
- An energy pricing structure that encourages the development of clean or renewable energy sources, eliminates subsidies to industries that produce polluting forms of energy, including biofuels with a near-zero to negative energy return on investment such as corn ethanol, includes costs of disposal of nuclear and other wastes, and credits distributed clean power generation at a higher rate (feed-in tariffs)
- Incentives for development of wind, solar, geothermal and other renewable energy sources; location of wind and solar facilities must be sensitive to plant communities, water resources, and the migration routes of birds and other animals
- Research to bring about the use of new technologies such as fuel cells, advanced photovoltaic and heat recovery systems
- Programs to develop energy-efficient technologies, including incentives for highly efficient appliances, heating, lighting and cooling systems, and production processes
- Financial incentives, such as tax credits or rebates from utilities, for purchase or use of energy-efficient products and processes
- Increased vehicle fuel efficiency standards
- Programs to encourage recycling, reuse, and reduction of consumption
- The prohibition of energy extraction and distribution on or under aesthetically and environmentally vulnerable lands, including lands designated as parks, refuges, national monuments, state or national forests, wilderness, and primitive and roadless areas
- Land use and transportation policies that conserve or more efficiently utilize energy, such as mass transit, trains, and compact development.
Adopted 27 September 2001; Revised 27June 2013