A moonshot for energy
In 1962, President John F. Kennedy made a momentous speech at Rice University. As he stood on that podium, he challenged the nation to put a man on the moon before the end of the decade.
Kennedy acknowledged that the mission would be expensive and probably dangerous.
But he explained its importance in these words: “We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other 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.”
History shows the nation accepted the challenge and, with an unprecedented partnership between government and private industry, successfully landed that man on the moon. As Kennedy predicted, the world was forever enriched by the knowledge and technology of that effort.
Today the country needs a leader who will step up to the podium and challenge the country to mobilize in the same manner to solve the impending energy crisis. As the nation’s need for electricity runs head on into a desire to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, it’s becoming increasingly clear: We need a moonshot for energy.
No matter who moves into the White House in 2009, the next president likely will make climate change legislation a priority. It’s already being debated in Congress.
What’s not clear is whether the next president will have the courage of a Kennedy to put the full resources of the U.S. government behind meeting the challenges of a carbon-constrained world. Officials at Associated Electric Cooperative say one of those bills now being debated in Congress has the potential to add $500 million to the price Missouri co-ops, and the Missourians they serve, pay for wholesale electricity.
What may be sound environmental policy Missourians can support could become greatly flawed energy policy Missourians will oppose. It doesn’t have to be that way.
The goal of reducing carbon emissions can be achieved without making electricity a luxury only the wealthy can afford — but only if government partners with industry to remove the uncertainties facing research and development of new technology.
When President Kennedy made his great speech, he did not threaten economic sanctions should industry fail to meet his lofty goal. Instead, he offered the full support of the government to get the job done.
Because it represents consumers, your electric cooperative is working to provide elected officials the information they need to make good policy decisions. Co-op members want to know how much this is going to affect their reliability and increase their electric bills and what elected officials will do to make it affordable.
To help in that effort, a Web site has been set up where members can start a dialogue with their elected officials. If you have Internet access, you can start the conversation with your elected officials now at www.ourenergy.coop. Or you can go to your electric cooperative office and ask for their assistance to contact your U.S. senators and representative.
Your participation could make a huge difference in the future price of electricity.
If another leader like John F. Kennedy emerges on this important energy moonshot, we wil tell him or her to lead and we will get behind them. Like JFK realized long ago, government has to be part of the solution when America tries to find the affordable technology needed to produce energy and reduce carbon.
Forcing the problem on the consumer’s back through higher rates doesn’t provide the leadership we are looking for and increases the importance of you and your family getting involved — NOW — by going to www.ourenergy.coop.
Hart is executive vice president of the Association
of Missouri Electric Cooperatives.