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DATE: May 16, 2001
CONTACT: Craig Cheslog, Redefining Progress


OAKLAND, Calif.—The United States' current and future energy problems are the result of Americans' unlimited craving for fossil fuels, a resource with a limited supply. Unless the nation implements a balanced energy plan focused on reducing its fossil-fuel dependency, we face a future of increased price shocks, reliance on foreign energy sources, pollution, and climate change effects.

"Our nation is in the grips of a destructive addiction to fossil fuels, but our political leaders are unwilling to admit we have a problem," said Redefining Progress Executive Director Joanne Kliejunas. "So-called energy solutions concentrating on increasing fossil fuel supply, building power plants, creating price caps, or tapping the Strategic Petroleum Reserve will make the situation worse."

Any credible long-term energy plan must reorient the economy by reducing dramatically its reliance on oil, coal, and natural gas. "Kicking the fossil-fuel habit will have substantial long-term benefits for our economy, national security, and the environment," added Kliejunas.

Not every "energy plan" tries to remedy our nation's fossil-fuel dependence. Credible energy plans will:

  1. Steadily reduce the nation's reliance on fossil fuels. Reducing our reliance on fossil fuels will shrink greenhouse emissions, improve air quality, and increase the nation's energy security.
  2. Nurture a diversity of energy resources. Funds should be allocated for additional research and to stimulate emerging markets for alternative energy sources and technologies.
  3. Promote energy efficiency and conservation. Increasing the supply of energy alone is not a long-term solution. Energy demand must be reduced through conservation and improved energy efficiency.
  4. Price energy accurately. The full social and environmental costs of various forms of energy should be calculated and included in their prices so consumers can make informed energy choices. Removing fossil fuel subsidies will make renewable energy sources price competitive.
  5. Employ mechanisms that assist households most vulnerable to energy price increases. Pricing structures should ensure a basic floor of inexpensive energy for everyone while providing price incentives for heavy users to reduce their consumption.
  6. Ensure that environmental impacts of energy generation are borne fairly by all socioeconomic groups. The pattern of locating polluting plants in low-income neighborhoods, communities of color, and tribal lands results in disproportionate health and ecological impacts, and must cease.