Friday, February 01, 2002

Enron Met Cheney Six Times in 2001, and Other Ecological Catastrophe's

It isn't easy to argue with some of the common sense that is coming out of Washington, D.C. these days. Especially the words we hear about lessening dependence upon foreign sources of oil. The University of Delaware was host to a presentation sponsored by a number of environmentally conscious organizations on Wednesday night, and it was interesting to hear viewpoints expressed over our nation's proposed energy plan.

Attached is a press release issued prior to the event, but unfortunately, it misses some of the issues raised during the forum held at the University. What it fails to capture is the plain spoken honesty and integrity of Floris Johnson, representing the Gwich'in people of Northern Alaska, who rely upon the wildlife of Alaska for much of their sustenance, and the inclusion of Tom Evans, former congressman for Delaware.

Floris Johnson spoke of life in Alaska for a people who live upon a land that they respect immensely. She talked about the beauty of Alaska, and the reverance her people hold for the land which they live upon. Gathering berries in the wilderness was rough but was also part of the happiest times she has lived. Many of her people rely upon the land to provide food, clothing, and shelter. She spoke of the elders who guided her people, and how they have given up on the Congressmen of Alaska, who are in favor of drilling in the Arctic Refuge.

As I listened to the words of Russell Peterson and Tom Evans, I wondered if their plain speech on this subject could be considered the words of the elders of Delaware. The words they used were filled with reasonableness and common sense.

Tom Evans mentioned the controversy over Vice President Dick Cheney, and Enron. He said that Mr. Cheney had met with Enron six times to discuss our country's energy policy, and that the Vice President should disclose information about the meetings, and about with whom he met. He said that legally, the Vice President was probably on firm ground, but from a public relations standpoint, he was causing himself and the President a considerable amount of damage.

Sponsoring Organizations:

Delaware Chapter of the Sierra Club
Delaware Audubon Society
Delaware Clean Air Council
Alaska Coalition
Union of Concerned Scientists
Delaware Nature Society
University of Delaware Students for the Environment
State PIRGs
National Environmental Trust


Russell Peterson
Former Delaware Governor, elected in 1968.
Past Chairman of the President's Council on Environmental Quality
Past Director of the Office of Technolgy Assessment of the U.S. Congress
President of the National Audubon Society (1979 - 1985)
Chaired the Center on the Biological Consequences of Nuclear War, working with Carl Sagan and Paul Ehrlich.
Served on the National Commission to investigate the nuclear accidnet at Three Mile Island.

Tom Evans
Former member of Congress, representing Delaware from 1977-1983, and former co-chairman of the Republican National Committee.
Author of the Coastal Barrier Resources Act
Board member of the Alaska Wilderness League and the Coast Alliance.

Dr. John Byrne
Director of the Center for Energy and Environmental Policy.
Co-founder and co-executive director of the Joint Institute for a Sustainable Energy and Environmental Future.
Coordinator of the Delaware Climate Change Consortium (pdf). See their Action Plan (pdf) for an idea of what they do.

Floris Johnson
Southeastern Regional Coordinator for the Gwich'in Steering Committee.
Former Administrative Director for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Clinic for the Council of Athabaskan Tribal Government in Fort Yukon.

Edwin L. Mongan, III
Manager, Environmental Stewardship for DuPont
Responsible for worldwide environmental management systems, including planning, performance measures, pollution prevention programs and goals, public reporting and auditing for DuPont. Represents DuPont on the Partnership for Climate Action, and is a member of the American Chemistry Council's Product Stewardship Team, and the National Pollution Prevention Roundtable.

The Press Release:
January 30, 2002

Delaware's Energy Future Debated at Public Energy Forum
Panel Features Former Governor Russell Peterson

Wilmington, Delaware -- Russell Peterson, Former Governor of Delaware; Dr. John Byrne, Director of UD Center For Energy and Environmental Policy; Edwin L. Mongan, Dupont's Manager of Environmental Stewardship; and Floris Johnson, representative of the Gwich'in people of Northern Alaska today participated in a public energy forum held at the University of Delaware's Student Center Bacchus Theatre. The discussion centered on America's energy future during this time of great concern over national security and a need to reduce our dependence on oil. The panelists presented reasonable energy solutions that would benefit Delaware and the nation.

Anerica uses a quarter of the world's oil, but has just 3 percent of known reserves. Sixty-five percent of reserves lie beneath the Persian Gulf States. The only way to end the economic and security risks caused by this imbalance is to reduce our oil dependence by increasing the use of renewable energies like wind and solar to meet our electricity demands, building better cars, and making better fuels. The panelists tonight outlined some of these alternatives to domestic drilling and highlighted Delaware's role in creating those alternatives.

"We are leaving an energy era with too many brownfields, blackouts and waste, and too little environmental and economic sense. Importantly, a new era is before us that will rely on environmentally benign sources such as solar energy and wind, and smart technologies such as high-efficiency vehicles and the fuel cell," said Dr. John Byrne, Director of University of Delaware's Center for Energy and Environmental Policy. "The implications for Delaware are great: we have the largest U.S. manufacturer of solar cells - Astropower - and the industry leaders in fuel cell development - W.L. Gore and DuPont. In this case, what's good for Delaware is good for the country and for our environment.

"DuPont has already recognized a need to position itself in a marketplace calling for an ever increasing demand for a smaller environmental footprint and thus has steered down a corporate path of sustainable development, establishing a set of tangible business goals that create both shareholder and societal value; goals which include using renewable energy sources to meet its global energy needs and achieving an increasing amount of revenues from non-depletable resources," said Edwin L. Mongan, DuPont Manager of Environmental Stewardship.

The alternative solutions to drilling on sensitive areas like the Arctic Wildlife Refuge have roots and important ties right here in Delaware. These practical steps include fuel economy standards and implementation of a nationwide Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard (RPS), which requires electricity producers to gradually increase the potion of electricity produced from renewable resources such as wind and solar.

"The Big Three U.S. auto companies promise to improve the fuel efficiency of their passenger trucks. They have been promising to do so for years. Our government should require them to meet a much higher efficiency in the near term. A fleet average of 40 miles a gallon is a good target," said Russell Peterson, former Delaware Governor.

By raising fuel economy standards to a technologically feasible 40 mpg for the entire fleet of new cars, SUV's and light duty trucks, the U.S. could save about one billion barrels of oil annually. Experts from industry, government, and academia have all estimated that average fuel economy of about 40 mpg is achievable for the entire U.S. fleet, including SUV's, minivans, and pickup trucks within 10 to 15 years using existing and emerging technologies. The potential oil savings from such an achievement represents 2.7 times the likely yield of economically recoverable oil from the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Delaware's large number of autoworkers would benefit from the investment in producing more efficient cars and trucks.

- William Slawski