Epiphany or Miracle?

The solutions to the world’s environmental problems are numerous and inextricably related. There’s no silver bullet, but rather a set of choices – some easy and some more difficult – that have to be made if this planet is to remain habitable.

Solutions involve combinations of environmentally efficient energy sources like CHP, totally clean non-fossil solutions like wind and solar, and reduction of energy usage through conservation.

The issues are not only technical, but they have a large political component as well.

While some of our elected officials, mostly but not exclusively from the Republican Party, still look backward toward fossil fuels and subsidies for the obscenely rich oil barons, others are promoting more sensible approaches.

One approach to alleviate some of the environmental damage is to improve the way we construct our buildings. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, in the United States buildings consume 40% of our energy and produce 39% of our carbon emissions. Yet the technology exists to significantly reduce energy, CO2 emissions, water use, and solid waste.

Assemblymen McKeon, Chivukula, Barnes, and Conaway are among legislators who have promoted realizable solutions to our energy and environment crisis. Despite their effort, Governor Christie has vetoed green building initiatives in the past, using his veto message to excoriate the Democrats in the legislature. Those four assemblymen have re-introduced a green building bill (A-1966) this session.

I spoke yesterday with Assembly McKeon outside of the Trenton office of the Department of Environmental Protection. I asked him why the bill is being re-introduced despite the governor’s opposition to investment in jobs and the environment. In the short conversation, posted below, McKeon said he hoped the governor would have “an epiphany” and consider signing the bill this year.

Certainly, the governor has occasionally changed his mind on issues – as he recently did with internet gambling. But given the fact that the Koch Brothers are pulling the governor’s strings and the governor relies on dirty energy money to further his political ambitions, I suspect that more than an epiphany is needed. We need either a miracle or a new governor to advance the cause of clean energy in New Jersey.

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