On Thursday, Paul Dickerson gave a good talk and I applaud the way in which he engaged the class in a constructive discussion on policies that the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) should explore. Towards the end of class, Mr. Dickerson stated, to some effect, that he is a strong believer in energy efficiency, but not energy conservation. I won’t attempt to reproduce his exact quote, but his comments on conservation made me cringe in my seat. I immediately thought of Vice President Dick Cheney; my opinion of Cheney was formed back in 2001 with the following quote:
"Conservation may be a sign of personal virtue but it is not a sufficient basis for a sound, comprehensive energy policy." –April 30, 2001
I have seen this ‘ethic’ displayed by many Republicans in the past and present, but I simply cannot believe that this is an official party line. I found the following excerpt on energy on the House Republican Conference (GOP) website:
Republicans are committed to a balanced, common sense energy security policy that makes our energy more affordable and reliable. An innovative, 21st century energy policy should make renewable and alternative fuels much more accessible to ordinary Americans, and it should apply cutting-edge technologies to the environmentally conscious exploration of traditional American energy. In expanding the supply of available energy, we must also focus on energy conservation and efficiency, and we should make the necessary long-term investments in the fuels of the future.
The GOP appears to support energy conservation, although this excerpt does emphasize the expansion of domestic energy supplies over energy conservation. Finally, I pulled up the Mission statement of the Office of EERE:
The EERE mission is to strengthen America's energy security, environmental quality, and economic vitality in public-private partnerships that:
Enhance energy efficiency and productivity;
Bring clean, reliable and affordable energy technologies to the marketplace; and
Make a difference in the everyday lives of Americans by enhancing their energy choices and their quality of life.
Suprisingly, the word ‘conservation’ is never mentioned in the mission statement. Expanding renewable energy and improving energy efficiency without conserving energy and reducing overall demand is terrible policy. The age old idea that economic growth is predicated upon increased energy consumption should be laid to rest. Again, I enjoyed Paul’s talk and the way he engaged the class, but his refusal to see the major role that conservation measures should and need to play in solving climate and energy challenges is disappointing.