David Crane, NRG CEO
The energy problem is one of the two great challenges facing our generation; the other is climate change; and it does no good to solve for one without addressing the other. These, the “Twin Issues of our Time,” fortunately can be addressed by the Obama administration with the “Dual Solution” — 240 new nuclear plants and 240 million electric vehicles — in one generation.
Nuclear plants and electric cars anchor the virtuous circle of energy and the environment. New advanced nuclear plants produce so much electricity at such a low marginal cost that, even at the current high cost of construction, nuclear electricity would provide fuel for the electric car at the equivalent of 97 cents per gallon. And 240 million electric vehicles would increase electricity consumption in the U.S. by as much as a third (1.6 trillion kwh/year), necessitating additional advanced, large scale, low marginal cost nuclear plants.
This is what the Dual Solution means: 97 cent fuel for the American consumer, an end to the multibillion petrodollar wealth transfer abroad, and a vast reduction in carbon, sulfur, and nitrous oxide emissions from both the energy and the transportation sectors.
The technologies exist. Accelerated deployment is the issue. It is time to get started.
David Crane is CEO of NRG, a diversified energy company with headquarters in Carnegie Center.
Tom Szaky of Terracycle
President Obama, you promised in your campaign to spend more dollars on green tech and environmental initiatives. When spending these green tech dollars please do not focus only on flashy concepts like bio-diesel, solar, and wind power.
Please remember that many environmental initiatives are small in scope or less publicized, but those efforts, like recycling programs, collection programs, and most importantly environmental education programs, are just as important if we are to solve our environmental issues one day.
Tom Szaky is founder and CEO of Terracycle, a Trenton-based company that develops and markets innovative products made from discarded materials.
Watershed’s Jim Waltman
As President Barack Obama rallies for “change” there’s one overriding thought he should keep in mind — the best decisions are those that bring benefit over the long term. Short-term thinking is what got us into most of our thorniest problems.
While he has promised an economic stimulus plan to bring sorely needed short term aid to the American economy, he should think beyond the “shovel ready” bridges, tunnels, and highways that we are hearing so much about, and support smart investments in clean water infrastructure. Such investments should include protection of natural waterways and surrounding lands as well as repair to our crumbling infrastructure.
The health of our water is at risk. Future generations deserve to drink clean water and enjoy healthy aquatic environments.
Jim Waltman is executive director of the Stony Brook-Millstone Watershed Association, 31 Titus Mill Road, Pennington, www.thewatershed.org.
Ron Emrich, Preservation NJ
At Preservation New Jersey, we share your passion for protecting and passing that legacy on to future generations.
We want to offer some suggestions that can stimulate investment, create jobs, and help create a greener world while protecting our heritage. It is by now a truism that the “greenest building is the one already built,” and historic preservation — preserving and reusing older and historic buildings and reinvesting in existing communities — is, by its very nature, sustainable development.
Much of the national dialog you have led recently about relief for the country’s ailing economy notes the importance of helping to get “Main Street,” as well as Wall Street, back on its feet. We in the historic preservation community have long been focused on supporting programs for Main Street jobs, revitalization, and economic development. Investing in each community’s historic core and the people who make it work is stewardship that emphasizes reusing and rehabilitating the existing buildings, infrastructure, communities, and places we already have, which is inherently more efficient and sustainable.
Now we have an opportunity to make America’s Main Streets a national priority and invest in neighborhoods where historic rehabilitation projects would support healthy, vibrant, sustainable communities. Cities and towns in New Jersey, whether part of the NJ Main Street program or not, need a way to get a portion of stimulus funds to address local needs.
Many municipalities like Lawrenceville, Mount Holly, and Millville, where sprawl and disinvestment have had a negative effect, have a waiting list of identified projects that would stabilize and strengthen districts where small businesses and retail establishments are concentrated. The Community Development Block Grant program, which you have committed to restore to full funding, could provide a useful model and funds should be eligible for a wide variety of purposes such as facade improvements, building repairs, energy efficiency upgrades and retrofits, streetscape improvements, accessibility compliance, and small infrastructure projects.
We suggest that the stimulus program include improvements to the existing Federal Historic Rehabilitation Tax Credit program. The credit has been stimulating billions in private investment dollars in existing towns and cities for more than 30 years. Every federal dollar invested in the historic tax credit leverages approximately five dollars in private investment. Enhancing the historic tax credit could encourage reinvestment in rehabilitation projects that are ready to go but have been delayed by the recession and program limitations.
To bring immediate help to small “Main Street” development projects, the historic tax credit should be increased from 20 percent to 40 percent for smaller projects (where rehabilitation expenditures are under $2 million). This would target the incentive to those “Main Street” type developments where tax credit costs are currently too prohibitive.
Meanwhile, nonprofit owners of National Register-listed historic sites should be exempted from rules currently in the tax code that restrict the use of the federal historic tax credit by nonprofit project sponsors.
The National Park Service should receive a substantial amount of stimulus funding to address years of deferred maintenance. The stimulus plan should also use as a model a preservation program in the Jobs Act of 1983 to provide a new $100 million round of grants to historic preservation projects for owner-occupied homes that contribute to National Register historic districts and emphasize energy efficiency upgrades and retrofits. Grants could provide assistance for historic homeowners for activities such as historic window repair, and low-cost/compatible weatherization and upgraded, efficient heating and cooling systems. Designed to create jobs as quickly as possible, it can call on the existing and efficient infrastructure under the State Historic Preservation Officers to implement the program. Because historic rehabilitation is labor intensive, such a program can successfully get people back to work.
As the National Trust’s Sustainability Policy posits, “we cannot build our way out of our environmental problems. Rehabbing and reusing existing buildings is as ‘green’ as it gets.”
Ron Emrich is executive director of Preservation New Jersey, 30 South Warren Street, Trenton. 609-392-6409. www.preservationnj.org.
Dear President Obama: I write to you from Central New Jersey as a young person of Italian and Russian descent, as a small business owner, as the head of a New Jersey Main Street Association, as a food grower and educator, as a lover of sports, arts, and the environment, and yes, as an organizer who believes strongly in the power and the need for us all to work together, starting in our own communities.
I truly hope that we can work together, great government hand in hand with great community efforts. On domestic issues, I know healthcare is a central issue for you, and I encourage you and your administration to take a holistic and preventative approach, in particular by focusing on food security.
Food security means affordable access to healthy food for all people. Let us start by offering more respect and resources to our nation’s small and medium sized farmers and let us continue to encourage healthy farming practices (yes, I’m talking about sustainable and organic agriculture). Let us at least consider redrafting our U.S. Farm Bill to direct a larger portion of agricultural subsidies to fruit and vegetable production (currently identified as “specialty crops” and receiving little support).
For me, the final piece of an effective healthcare campaign lies in the education of young people about healthy eating. With obesity and diabetes rates rising, experts are calling this the first generation that may not live longer than their parents.
Michael (Mikey) C. Azzara is the founder and manager of the Lawrenceville Farmers Market; co-leader of Slow Food Central Jersey; and coordinator of the New Jersey Farm to School Network.
Linda Mead, D&R Greenway
Dear President Obama: Preserving open spaces is one of the most effective strategies you have to help mitigate the effects of global climate change. Preserved land recharges ground water and refreshes aquifers, supplying clean, safe drinking water.
Preserved natural lands and farm fields provide many other benefits, including a healthy environment that supports biodiversity and abundant wildlife and a sustainable agricultural economy. Offering tax incentives to farmers and private landowners to preserve, not develop, their lands will extend these benefits to more people. I urge you to make the H.R. 4 conservation easement incentive a permanent part of the federal tax code.
Linda J. Mead is executive director of D&R Greenway Land Trust, One Preservation Place, Princeton, 609-924-4646, www.drgreenway.org
First, it is my absolute pleasure to congratulate you on an incredible campaign to become our 44th President of the United States. I also want to thank you, because we can take away many lessons from how you conduct yourself, and how you and your team creatively and tirelessly worked to rally the spirit of volunteers nationwide for a common cause.
Never, in my lifetime, have I believed so strongly in a candidate (and now, in our President) — in your integrity as an individual, in your values and beliefs, and most importantly, in your sound judgment and willingness to build consensus around the challenging issues that face our country.
In closing, I want to thank you for the spirit of hope — a hope for more united communities, a better America, and continued progress in the world.