Obama takes on the Peach State: Rewarding energy efficiencies and inefficiencies
President brings the energy discussion to Georgia residents with an exciting new retrofit program -- a counterbalance to his controversial proposal to back two new nuclear reactors in Augusta.
Friday, March 5, 2010 - 12:14
UPSIDE: President Barack Obama shakes hands on March 2 at Savannah Technical College in Georgia. (Photo: Stephen Morton/Getty Images)
This week's headlines have sparked the interest of eco-champions and politicos statewide, from the green glow of federally financed nuclear plants to the buzz of President Obama's visit to the Peach State on Tuesday. The news of late has been overflowing with heated battles over health care, so the brief shift in focus to something of a sustainable nature was an overwhelming breath of fresh air.
Obama's visit — a mere four hours in length — was made more complex by the tension of high unemployment and a rough economy, but it was reason for environmentalists to rejoice because the formally titled Homestar Energy Efficiency Retrofit Program has come to fruition. Humorously referred to as "cash for caulkers," the idea promotes energy efficiency in the home by offering consumers incentives of up to $3,000 for replacing windows, heating systems and buying more EnergyStar-rated appliances. It's a step in the right direction, a reward for those who follow sustainable practices — although I am a firm believer that the implementation of energy-efficient products is a reward in itself.
Obama closed his much-anticipated Savannah speech by saying, "the country that leads in clean energy is also going to be the country that leads in the global economy." On that note, we should continue to support this proposal that promotes sustainability and makes eco-friendly practices more tangible to the average American homeowner.
With Obama's impressive energy program in our sights, let us also continue to remind the president of other relevant eco-issues facing the state, like the proposal to build two new nuclear reactors at Plant Vogtle near Augusta thanks to an $8 billion government support loan. Sadly, Obama is under the impression that nuclear technology is part of a safe, alternative energy plan. I think Greenpeace said it best, "The spread of nuclear technology and ultimately nuclear weapons undermines our national security and the security of the planet." With the retirement of Vermont's Yankee nuclear reactor upon us, it would be wise for Georgia to mirror this action and take a stand for all the Southern states. The protest sign of a Georgia resident on Tuesday said it best, "No nuclear bailout!"
In other eco-inspiring news, Georgia Republican Rep. John Linder of Gwinnett County announced Tuesday that he is leaving office without seeking re-election. This news comes as a pleasant surprise to me personally. I had the privilege of lobbying a climate bill in his D.C. office in 2007, and much to my disappointment, he was not only unwilling to ponder the facts surrounding this highly controversial and time-sensitive issue, but he also insisted that global warming was a figment of my imagination. He has yet to propose any legislation in favor of climate control.
Perhaps our shining red state will do Mother Nature proud and send a climate-bill-pushing tree hugger to Capitol Hill? Well, a girl can dream.