Congress Won't Pass Comprehensive Energy LegislationThe premise of this column is that individuals must take personal responsibility for greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reduction, mitigating carbon footprint, and returning un-used power to the grid.
Like so many things in this Congress, a comprehensive energy bill or national renewable energy standards again failed to move to the floor. Senator Jeff Bingaman, Senate Energy and Natural Resources, seems happy to have smaller victories especially on nuclear tax credits or commercial utility incentives.
At The Atlantic (Magazine) Green Intelligence forum, former EPA chief and Obama Advisor Carol Browner said: "we could pass legislation, but not large legislation anytime soon."
A pioneer in clean living and now asking Americans to bring green consumer products into the home, Ed Begley, Jr. is perhaps the embodiment of social conscience on personal environmental responsibility. Begley's Best, (www.begleysbest.com), Begley's new line of earth responsible natural soaps and household cleaners, perform equal to or better than their corresponding non-green alternatives. Begley is using cleaning products to advocate for the importance of individual environmental consciousness. All Begley's Best products are currently available online with nationwide distribution coming soon. He's done it before and will likely name a channel distributor to retail stores in the weeks ahead.
"I like this green stuff," Begley, a steadfast environmentalist since the early 1970s, said. "But it has to be seamless in order to work. Some people will use a green product no matter what; that's a small percent of the population. People are willing to pay a bit more for a premium (eco friendly) product because it cleans well. Our products are cost competitive. We understand that you cannot abuse the privilege; green products have to attract a wide group of people."
"I had a home energy audit done in my house a few years ago to find ways to cut my natural gas bill in half," Begley said. "I put in a thermo imaging device, a duct blaster, and a blower door to identify leaks, among other things. Those things did in fact enable me to cut my energy bill in half. What if all Americans had a free home energy audit to figure out ways to make their homes energy efficient?"
But are Americans ready to be Ed Begley Jr.? Is the average consumer ready to be educated about their personal energy usage? Will we pay more for 'cleaner' cleansers when our parents used "scrubbing bubbles?"
New Leadership on Renewables
It seems that the American activist has been spending a lot of time over the past year "occupying" everything and anything they (we) feel may clash with democratic, or economic rights. Why then, applying that same principle to preserving the geophysical world, has there yet to be an "occupy the world" movement come to fruition?
Perhaps the answer lies in the fact that the environmental movement of today lacks what all great policy-changing and lifestyle-altering movements of the past had: a visible leader with a cabinet of visionaries. Case-in-point: Where has Al Gore gone? His book, Earth in Balance will be 20 years old in 2012, and it seems that it still stands as the most proficient guidepost to tackle the world's ecological problems.
Senator Gaylord Nelson (D-WI) started the recognized Earth Day on April 22, 1970. It is still only a "day."
Until the environmental movement, intertwined with a sense of urgency and longevity, rises again in rigorous pursuit of policy forming and changing, embracing environmental sustainability will continue to be something put only on the personal agenda of the American consumer. For now, sustainability continues to begin with the individual, something that has the potential to create a synergistic global impact.
When in doubt -- just ask yourself, what would Ed Begley, Jr. do?
Brief Begley Bio Begley has captivated audiences with his performances in shows like Six Feet Under and Arrested Development. Peer through a window in his home on any given morning and the distinction between one of Begley's quirky characters and his true persona may be difficult to distinguish. Begley will more than likely be peddling away on his electricity-generating bicycle as his wife dries her hair or he toasts bread. That is just one of the many mechanisms he uses to keep his carbon footprint at next to nothing, all of which can be seen on his HGTV reality show, Living with Ed.
Mike Smith is a Washington, D.C. based blogger. He has worked at Dow Chemical Company in the Inorganic solvents area. He also has worked on introducing new Mr. Clean Cleansers for P&G.Leah Nadeau is a recent graduate of University of Charleston and provided research for this column.