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Column: Local Solutions For Energy Crisis Crucial

This story was written by Ben Patterson, Badger Herald

Now that the election is over and were all waiting for that lame duck to die, its a great time to actually focus on the real tasks at hand: accomplishing the goals President-elect Obama set during his campaign.There are so many things on our soon-to-be presidents plate: fixing the economy, health care, social security and the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. I hope hes hungry.

Surprisingly, the issue of energy has been near the top of Obamas list and for good reason.

Energy has often been looked at as an issue we can get around to once we finish everything else, but from early on in the campaign, the Obama team has recognized the priority to transform energy production and consumption in the United States into a modern standard.

Our country currently consumes 25 percent but only produces 16 percent of the worlds energy. Obviously we have an incredible dependence on foreign, pollution-heavy energy, a reality the Obama administration realizes is a matter of national security and moral responsibility.

To remedy this addiction, the Obama team has prescribed some medications in the form of policy reforms. According to Obamas website, his administration plans to ensure minimum percentage of renewable energy production, weatherize millions of homes, develop clean coal technology and implement other policy initiatives to poise America at the forefront of energy efficiency and climate control.

Although these plans sound spectacular and will be a welcome change from our current administrations Industrial Revolution energy mentality, many of the changes needed to fix our countrys energy issues will require individual attention and cannot be fixed with any administrations broad, sweeping policy changes.

Most important of these individual changes will be the need for a revolution in our personal energy consumption. When we flip the light switch we expect light, but this simple expectation is a microcosm for our energy issues.

Energy is an asset that, for too long, has been seen more as a right than a privilege. However, the consequences of this perceived right are currently in the process of jeopardizing other fundamental rights. Our nations sovereignty is compromised by our perpetual dependence to oil-producing countries in the Middle East, while our health and mere existence is put in danger by our continued destruction of the environment through the emission of fossil fuels.

In response to this dilemma, green energy is becoming a major industry in the United States, creating millions of jobs while improving energy consumption and our effects on the environment. Companies like Renewable Choice Energy have been at the forefront of the trend to replace pollution-heavy energy production with renewable alternatives.

The pollution problem is rooted in our electric grid. It currently works like a giant bathtub. Energy is produced by fossil fuels, nuclear power and limited renewable alternatives. The energy is all compiled into one tank and is then distributed out to everyone. Currently, there is no way to ensure the energy you consume is clean energy.

Renewable Choice, in an effort to curb this pollution production, buys energy from renewable resources in bulk and then sells credits to corporations like Whole Foods. By selling these credits, Renewable Choice supports renewable energy producers with the hope they will be able to eventually control production of all energy production in the future, thus eliminating the need for pollution-heavy methods.

Surprising to many, there are very simple measures an individual can take to not contribute to our countrys energy problems without sacrificing much. A company based here in Madison called Powered Green uses the same methods Renewabl Choice does but on the individual level. The company buys energy but sells credits to individuals instead of corporations for the cost of a laptops fossil fuel energy consumption. By buying these credits, an individual ensures the energy his or her laptop uses over its lifetime is entirely from a renewable energy source.

Energy will remain a major issue in our country in the years to come. Its not only in our best interest, but the worlds as well, to find new alternatives to our pollution-heavy energy production. Green energy will reduce foreign dependence, create new jobs in this growing sector and mitigate the effects our reckless consumption has had on our planet. Policy changes are a great start to changing our countries energy issues, but it will take a concerted effort on the individual level if we ever want to see the change we all crave.

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