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Politics of patriotism for energy independence

Through “changing a few light bulbs” in Town Hall and the Visitors Center, Jonesborough will significantly reduce its electric-energy bills and save many thousands of dollars in the years ahead.
When the Veterans Administration Mountain Home in Johnson City changed its lighting to energy efficient compact-fluorescents, the monthly electric-bill savings equaled the electricity needs of 255 average area homes.
When Sullivan County upgraded its schools’ energy performance through high efficiency lighting and HVAC systems, and other conservation measures, its bills for electricity, gas and water/sewer were lowered by more than $1.08 million a year while the students could enjoy improved comfort and safety in their “new” buildings.
Any such projects engender highly positive results for the environment.
Sullivan County’s greening of its schools, for one, keeps some 21,000 tons of greenhouse gases and other pollutants out of the air, year by year.
Energy efficiency saves home owners and businesses money, and, if broadly employed, is the best and fastest way to solve the climate-warming problem.
The U.S. Department of Defense has been a leader in promoting and applying green and lean energy practices.
At the Charleston Air Force base, for example, heating and cooling equipment upgrades reduced energy costs by $2.6 million annually.
At other facilities, the comprehensive energy and environmental guidelines of the Green Building Council are being implemented.
While federal as well as state and local governments are applying these standards in many new building projects, to lower operating cost, the Department of Defense “stands out as a leader.”
In war zones today, the DoD argues, the need of fuel transport to military bases in order that generators can power the lights and soldiers’ radios and all operations is a significant security threat.
The dependence of combat technology and base-needed energy on petroleum exacts a “heavy burden of blood;” half the casualties in the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts reportedly were fuel-convoy related.
To lessen this dependency and cost and blood burden, DoD may be farthest along in carrying out the Goals for Agencies of President Bush’s Executive Order (13423) of 2007 — that they improve energy efficiency and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, implement renewable energy generation projects on agency property, reduce water consumption, purchase “environmentally preferable” goods and products and follow a set of Guiding Principles for High Performance Sustainable Buildings, related to the LEED standards.
As reported by Edward Humes (Utne online), the Army is working to make its permanent bases worldwide self-sustaining for energy; the Air Force “is certifying fighers, bombers and cargo jets to run on a renewable biofuels mix;” and the Navy Secretary envisions a “green fleet” and buildings powered by renewable energy.
Unfortunately, the U.S. House of Representatives sought fit, recently, to “ban” the Department’s good efforts regarding high-level green-building certification, as well as to cut spending for energy efficiency and renewable energy programs by more than $570 million.
Its action seems contrary to what is urgently needed — a politics of patriotism for energy independence.