This year could be a breakthrough year to truly change the nature of dialogue and action in Washington, DC, and nationwide. On the tip of the tongue question: Will there be a super majority in the Senate (59 Democratic Party, One Socialist (Sanders), and the only Connecticut for Lieberman Senator)? One of those seemingly long-shot, now truly competitive races that could help achieve this change: the race for Alaska’s next Senator.
Senator Ted Stevens (R-AK) is embroiled in controversy (and perhaps more). That is not the subject of this post.
Instead it is a moment to focus on his opponent, the next Senator from Alaska, Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich with whom I just participated in a short bloggers’ call.
Two questions from me.
The first had nothing to do with energy, but instead about Senator Inouye’s fundraising for Ted Stevens: What have you heard from the national party, from the DSCC, and what do you expect? Begich certainly was on top of this. From that response (somewhat paraphrased):
Inouye and Ted Stevens are close friends. They are part of the 85-plus club, they’re part of a bunch of guys who’ve been around a hundred years.
When I heard about this, I waited 24 hours to calm down and then I called and left a message for Senator Schumer. … After all, do they want a 60 Senator majority or not? … When I do talk to Senator Schumer, I’ll let him know that whatever Inouye raises for Stevens, I’ll expect them to double it.
A straightforward, powerful response that recognizes the long-term Inouye/Stevens relationship but also clearly shows some backbone in desiring sensible national Democratic Party responses to the implications of that relationship.
Begich and Energy
To be honest, there are a lot of races, a lot of people out there. My life, 24/7, is not doing race analysis. And, Mark Begich finally announced just a short while ago. Visiting his campaign website, at this time, doesn’t give a great feel when it comes to energy and environmental issues.
A top problem Mark hears repeatedly about from Alaskans is the high price of heating Alaskans’ homes and fueling our vehicles. This in a state once proudly considered America’s energy storehouse. Mark will work across party lines to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil and gas development. He will fight for an Alaska Energy Policy that includes building an Alaska natural gas pipeline and also developing Alaska’s enormous renewable energy – hydro, tidal, geothermal and wind. With fellow mayors from Southcentral Alaska, Mark formed the Tri-Borough Commission which is spearheading a balanced Alaska energy policy emphasizing new development, conservation and renewable energy. Mark will work to restore Alaska as a major supplier of America’s energy needs.
While there is conservation and renewable energy in this paragraph, clearly subordinate to developing new power sources. Also, no mention of Global Warming (no environmental issue area). Okay, hesitant skepticism here driving the question: "Where do you see Energy in the campaign? Where do you see Global Warming in the list of Alaskans’ concerns?" The answer brought new light to the material on the issues page.
Energy issues are the #1 issue in Alaska … Costs that consumers that are facing … Realization that we can’t continue the same way we’ve been going.
Well, that might be the same points from the Energy Issues section. Concerns not abated.
[Global Warming] If you’d asked me four years ago, I would have said it wasn’t a big issue. … that the evidence isn’t conclusive …
Sounds like a potential skeptic or someone not really interested just a few years ago.
What happened? I went to Sundance with 40 Mayors with Al Gore and Robert Redford. This was before the film. Actually, it was sort of like the film live.
How many presentations has Gore said he’s given? Something like 3000.
I returned to Alaska after that one and one-half day trip.
I pulled out a photo of me as a kid by the Portage Glacier, with the ice no further than ten feet from me.
I went out to the same location with my then three-year old son and took a photo. I literally couldn’t see the ice.
What happened to me in that moment, that was truly a life-changing moment for me.
Evidence, stark evidence, literally staring him in the face. And, it led him to sign up for Cool Mayors and to take action, including energy efficiency and renewable energy programs.
Within the next year, we got aggressive. And, I went back the next year to Sundance and presented what a city can do in just one year.
As to his electorate:
Alaskans are well aware of Global Warming, in rural Alaska, in the villages, it is really making them really nervous.
The "issues" page isn’t all there is Mark Begich. From it, I wouldn’t have picked up that he’s worked a target for 30 percent renewables within a decade with significant energy conservation also in the works to massively reduced southcentral Alaska’s reliance on fossil fuels. From his why I am running statement:
Alaska is ground zero for global warming. All you have to do is look at the shrinking polar ice cap and the devastating effects it’s having on our rural communities to know we have to do something.
According to Begich
Alaska is feeling the impacts of climate change more than any place else in the world. At ground zero, Alaskans have a responsibility to lead the way in developing solutions to global warming to protect the magnificent natural resources around us and to ensure that future generations do not inherit a drastically altered Alaska. The solutions will not only help protect our environment, but will save money and bolster our economy.
Now, I don’t know about you, but that certainly seems Energy Smart to me.
And, we can some use some more Energy Smarts in Washington, DC.