Do Gov. Dannel Malloy and Dan Esty, his commissioner of the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, have an energy plan for you! It’s a cure for fossil fuels, but first, take plenty of natural gas.
The two Dans have put together a four decade-long comprehensive energy strategy, sort of a grand unification theory of transportation, energy usage, economic development and corporate capitalist welfare.
Malloy’s administration unveiled the plan October 5 in front of the Connecticut Business and Industry Association, a right-leaning Chamber of Commerce style-lobbying group.
Now that business is happy with the kowtow from the two Dans, the dynamic Dan duo is out selling their 40-year plan to anyone who will listen. There will be a series of public hearings and technical sessions on the plan in November.
To their credit, they are more transparent than Dick Cheney. But still, they espouse that corporate capitalist view of economic growth that is so harmful to our planet and democracy.
On Wednesday morning, October 10, 2012, Dan and Dan hit WNPR’s Where We Live. North America needs to be energy efficient and independent, Malloy said. Connecticut is looking at every technology, of course – geothermal, biodiesel, natural gas, etc etc etc, they said.
Malloy is an effective communicator, and knows how to hammer a message. I listened, and understood our neighboring states all have a vastly higher percentage of people using natural gas than Connecticut does. And Malloy glosses over internal contradictions well enough to project consistency.
“We want to get away from fossil fuels,” Malloy said. Yet the core of the plan relies on creating a massive natural gas infrastructure for the next ten years of “growth.” The dynamic Dans wash this away by saying four decades down the road is difficult to predict, but we need to get on natural gas now.
Hearing to Dan and Dan shill clean, efficient natural gas, I thought I was listening to John Larson or his good buddy T. Boone Pickens. Throughout the course of the hour, I heard climate change mentioned once, and maybe global warming mentioned once.
The two Dans recognize that fossil fuels are not infinite, and the supply will run out, whether it is in 120 or 70 years. Given the urgency of climate change, though, Malloy and Esty present the state with a plan that says we can continue economic growth and fossil fuel use without further harm.
This view is hardly revolutionary, like Malloy’s other ad campaign would have visitors believe about Connecticut. The two Dans’ plan is rooted firmly in corporate capitalist domination of the economy and environment, and a fairy tale hope that Connecticut’s market demands for natural gas can alter the fracking engine.
Esty, the corporate capitalist, joked that he wants a third “e” in DEEP, “economy.” Angling for a national job with a second Obama administration, Esty is showing how loyal a foot soldier he is to Democratic corporate giveaways.
Currently, only 31 percent of Connecticut households and businesses use natural gas. The two Dans want to raise that percentage through a series of subsidies and low interest loans to be equal with our neighbors at 50 percent.
This strategy, though, is a giveaway to the large natural gas monopolies in Connecticut. UIL Holdings Corporation, listed on the New York Stock Exchange, owns not just United Illuminating, but two of Connecticut’s main gas companies – Southern Connecticut Gas and Connecticut Natural Gas.
The third, Yankee Gas, is owned by Northeast Utilities, which is now really N-Star, a massive utility that pays its executives millions and cuts jobs for the working person.
Both of those monopolies loved the two Dans’ plans. UIL Holdings Corp. even issued a press release applauding it.
“I have always supported energy policies that encourage growth and improve efficiency and diversification of resources,” UIL CEO James Torgerson said. Torgerson made $2.5 million in total compensation last year. Far less than Charles Shivery from NU. But still he is a one percenter.
“We’re going to pound and pound and pound” against the utilities, Malloy told us. Oh, sure, we’ve seen that before. Exactly how hard did you fight against the NU-N-Star merger? Not very.
We need to crush the utility monopolies. Yet Dan and Dan don’t talk municipal power generation.
Esty maintains they have a small business “strike force” to preserve economic diversity in this plan. Repulsion hits me when I hear a supposed environmentalist use the language of war to sell a plan.
This feels like another Malloy giveaway to the wealthy, corporate interests, like the $115 million to a hedge fund. What if we took that $115 million and used it to subsidize the purchase of solar panels, or invest in tidal power generation research?
Instead, we get accolades from UIL Holdings. “With the development of this new energy strategy, I am pleased with the prospects for the future,” Torgerson said. “If we act accordingly, Connecticut has an opportunity to continue the path back to economic vitality. We can re-establish the state’s position in the Northeast.”
Why do we need to compete? Why do we need to re-establish a position? Why not create a cooperative business community – profit with honor – that confronts global warming head on and provides for basic human rights?
Malloy is already unpopular. Why doesn’t he just tell the people the truth about global warming?
Why can’t he say – Capitalism depends on the infinite exploitation of natural resources, and our economic growth depends on this wasteful consumption of resources. This is all destroying the planet, and we need to change course.”
Impossible words to hear from Malloy. The two Dans are trying to tell us we can continue to live this mirage, and not pay any consequences.
Despite the repeated mantra from the two Dans that Connecticut needs cheap energy, such a thing does not exist. Sure, natural gas is cheaper than oil right now, but we are merely relying on future generations paying the long term costs for our insatiable energy desires.
Esty pushed aside the most serious concerns about fracking – the practice of drilling wells deep into the earth’s crust, then filling them toxic, unknown fluids and cracking the planet’s surface to allow natural gas to escape. What if Congress in 10 years yanks the Bush Administration fracking exception to Clean Water Act?
The two Dans would have an unsatisfying answer. Fracking is poisonous to life. But Esty, and so many of us, have made peace with our immediate need for fossil fuels, and if fracking is the way we get it, then so be it.
More satisfying, yet less politically palatable is the truth. We have stop driving cars. We have to force industries to be far more energy efficient. We have to create an economy that is good for the planet.
This plan is a start for its long term vision, but it doesn’t do it.