the (new) american worker

Localized: New York Energy Economy
January 27, 2010, 8:39 pm
Filed under: New York | Tags: , ,

Wide awake New York, it’s morning.

The dawn of a new era. Where the power of Wall Street won’t be our only steam engine. Really? Well, at least that’s what the politician says.

Kevin Cahill, a Democrat who represents parts of Ulster and Duchess counties in New York State, recently made this case in a release titled “Time For A New Energy Economy In New York State.” The political aims, to be sure, are consistent with what we can expect from the larger Democratic arena in a push towards energy industries as stimulus for growth and job creation. Energy industries, let’s be clear, are not the same as environmental causes, despite the close association of some of their respective members. Some energy industries, like “clean coal,” are still understandably suspect to environmental groups. This will be a politically thorny issue, no matter how many times you say, “jobs, jobs, jobs” in the same sentence.

Still, as this blog seeks to establish, technology, innovation and the infallible American spirit must collaborate to create new energy economies. Energy is not the sole answer, but I believe it may be the best way to achieve numerous economic and sustainability goals in one fell swoop.

The smart politician knows this. Obama knew this, which is why he made a new energy economy the centerpiece of his vision for building a better America post-recession. No matter what you think of health care reform, it is clear he lost his grip on this goal, and some others, namely financial reform, while haranguing Congress to get something together already on health care.

Back to Cahill. Familiar buzz words pepper his speech, including the requisite “the race to develop and deploy clean energy solutions is going to define the 21st century global economy.” Yes, China is killing us on this one. But what else you got Cahill? And what’s in it for New York?

He calls for new legislation to organize efforts towards energy planning, a process that has been “haphazard” since the 2002 expiration of New York’s energy planning law. Ok, many people probably didn’t know this law even existed. If all politics is local, then how does this affect my backyard, my bottom line?

Cahill refers to the need for more “environmentally responsible tapping of the enormous potential of the Marcellus Shale natural gas formation,” an “indigenous” resource to New York State. Bingo. Cahill is straddling the line on the gas wars upstate, where landowners sitting on gas-rich land are squaring off against environmental critics. Energy companies are waiting on the sidelines with their checkbooks drawn. And yet despite the enormous economic potential for such projects, these communities remain bitterly divided over how to best manage a gas boom in their backyard.

The debate is not over whether the Marcellus Shale should be tapped – for enviros, natural gas is far more desirable than oil or coal – but how it will be managed and regulated. And is it any wonder that there is trepidation over effective management of municipal projects?