Sunday, September 13, 2009

Planning Commissioner Tonya Jones Campaigns for Greater US Dependence on Foreign Oil, against Clean Energy Jobs

Whenever you hear commercial construction firm owner and Planning Commissioner Tonya Jones address green builds or energy efficiency in developments during planning meetings, keep in mind that recently she helped rally followers to the petroleum industry's bid to defeat the American Clean Energy and Security Act. Given her outspoken, strident role in a lobby group that seems to have no problem assuring continued consumer reliance on Middle East oil, it will be hard for me to take any expressions she might make about leading in energy efficiency and environmental design very seriously.

Jones's group, Energy Citizens, insists that creating a green economy in which American energy is produced in America would cost Tennessee jobs. That claim is at odds with studies that find not only that ACES would mean more net jobs in Tennessee, but that if that the net jobs created would surge even higher with stronger industry standards than those demanded in ACES.

Her lobby group also does not seem sensitive to the security threats of failing to make the switch to a greener economy. A Georgia veteran of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq provides the voice of reason we should use to balance the shrill hysterics of Energy Citizens, the petroleum industry, and Nashville's Planning Commissioner:
Critics of the legislation, such as the American Petroleum Institute, contend that jobs could be lost and energy costs could rise. Don't believe these self-serving arguments. Some economists believe that the next economic revolution will be based on developing green energy. There is tremendous potential for job creation if we diversify our energy sources and build the infrastructure for clean, renewable, and affordable alternatives to oil. As for energy costs, the oil companies seem to think Americans have ridiculously short memories. Just last year, oil was racing toward $200 a barrel. It was only when the wheels came off the economy that the price of oil came down. Oil prices are notoriously volatile and there are some very unsavory characters with their hands on the supply spigot. It only takes one damaging hurricane, one shut pipeline, or one angry, oil-rich dictator to drive the price of oil sky high. We have the means to fix this situation. Now is the time to get started.

Going forward, we cannot simply hope that oil prices will be affordable and stable. We cannot simply hope that there won't be a conflict in the Strait of Hormuz, a flare up in the Middle East, or a crisis in Central Asia. Right now, we need a smart, comprehensive energy plan that enhances our security by providing for renewable, affordable, and clean energy produced in the United States. That plan is ACES.
And would Commissioner Jones's plan be more like "drill, baby, drill"?

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