A Green Dream Worthy of Independence Day

With the devastating backdrop of millions of gallons of oil spewing daily into the Gulf of Mexico, what better day to reflect on where we’ve come as a nation, and where we’re headed, energy-wise, than Independence Day?

Including President Obama, the last eight U.S. presidents have called for some form of American energy independence, but each has abjectly failed to deliver. What would our Founders think? They defied an empire, and risked all, to realize the dream of America. Yet we can’t kick our addiction to fossil fuels to preserve it?

It’s time for a revolutionary shift in how we power America. 2010 needs to be the year the citizens of America take back our power by demanding a green industrial revolution that puts unemployed Americans back to work, reestablishes our role as world economic leader, and helps ensure future generations a livable planet. To that end, this fall I am pedaling a hybrid electric bicycle 3,000 miles from Colorado to Washington, DC calling for an Apollo-like goal of a 100% U.S. renewable electricity grid by 2020.

Ride for Renewables logo

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Greening our energy grid in such a short time span will be anything but easy. It will demand much of the renewable energy industry, and require a massive World War II-type mobilization at lightening speed. But our country has all the green energy resources we need to realize this hopeful and exciting vision. With advances in storage technologies, we can meet virtually all of our nation’s electricity needs by 2020 through expanded energy efficiency measures and responsibly developed, utility-scale and distributed wind, solar and geothermal power.

Daunting as it is, the task of greening our electricity grid pales in comparison to the revolutionary sacrifice that brought America into being, but realizing this “green dream” of a 100% renewable electricity grid will nevertheless demand a level of courageous civic, business and political leadership rarely seen since our nation’s founding to overcome the inertia of the fossil fuel-driven status quo, and to convince a reluctant Congress and White House to radically reverse decades of regressive energy policies. But it is in our national character to take on such huge challenges, and prevail. 

When destiny came knocking during World War II, we answered by leading the Allied forces to victory in three and a half short years. Although it has not been called on for some time, America’s entrepreneurial can-do spirit remains alive and well. Not only can we blaze the trail to a worldwide green industrial revolution, it is in our national interest to do so. What is unrealistic is thinking we can continue with business as usual and still leave a habitable planet for our children and grandchildren.

President Kennedy inspired the nation in 1961 when he announced the dramatic and ambitious goal of landing an American on the Moon before the end of the decade. He knew this would be a challenging technological feat, but he also knew this was where the U.S. could lead the world. His are the kind of words we need to hear from our president today: “We commit to do these things not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win.”

Americans are dreamers, and proudly so. Coming together to accomplish monumental feats is part of our greatness. On this Independence Day, let us dream once again by committing ourselves to renewing America with renewable energy by 2020.

To learn more about the “Ride for Renewables,” and how you can help, please visit my website at www.climatecrisissolutions.com/bike.htm or contact me directly at (303) 499-9648 or at tom@climatecrisissolutions.com.

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Tom Weis is president of Climate Crisis Solutions, a mission-driven environmental consulting firm dedicated to solving the global climate crisis. Active in the wind industry since early 2004 as a public outreach consultant to enXco, Inc., Tom played a key role in permitting 600 MW of wind energy projects in California. He served as strategic advisor to the president of the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) from 2008-2009 and received AWEA's 2009 Special Achievement Award for his role in co-founding the American Wind Wildlife Institute. Tom also served as chair of AWEA's 2007 Fall Symposium, and represented enXco on the board of the Interwest Energy Alliance from 2005-2009.

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