If elected to the United States Senate, I pledge to introduce and tirelessly advocate for a forward-thinking energy policy that will increase our national security and our energy security by reducing our nation's dependence upon oil.
My legislation will move our country away from dependence upon foreign oil within 10 years, and completely replace those energy needs through aggressive energy efficiency measures, and wholesale promotion, development and implementation of renewable energy sources.
Unlike my opponent, who voted merely to "study" natural energy sources with no increases to automobile fuel efficiency standards, I will insist upon nothing less than the implementation of renewable energy sources and of dramatically increased energy efficiencies. Unlike my opponent, who voted to continue subsidizing the mature and established oil and nuclear industries,1 I will insist that all federal subsidies must shift to the renewable energy and efficiency fields.
I also pledge to increase energy security through a combination of strong private-sector incentives and a public infrastructure program to install off-grid, renewable energy systems on our public health and safety services, to ensure our citizenry are safe during any interruption in the power grid; and to invest in reliable maintenance and upgrades of our nation's grid systems.
Lastly, I pledge that if I am elected, I will stand before you and all Hawaii residents in six years and ask you to measure my performance in meeting these goals. I will only ask you to re-elect me to the Senate if I am effective in achieving a measurable change in our nation's energy policy.
Our Nation's Energy Policy Matters to Hawaii
Increase Local Security
For decades Hawaii has endured an energy system that burdens residents with escalating energy costs and a dependency on fossil fuels. No other state relies so exclusively on oil for all their energy needs; we stand alone in our staggering 77 percent usage of fossil fuel for energy production. For an isolated land mass, this is an extremely dangerous practice that leaves us vulnerable to international politics, fluctuating supply, interruptions in shipping and escalating prices.
Increase National Security
Our country's addiction to oil is not only expensive, it is dangerous. With our oil purchases we are funding the terrorists we are fighting. We need to play smart, not just to reverse global warming, but to preserve democracy. The number one issue facing our national security is our dependence on foreign oil. The safety of our nation's future lies in renewable energy.
Invest in Hawaii's Economy ($2 billion a year)
Hawaii uses more imported oil than any state in the nation. Every year Hawaii sends approximately $2 Billion to oil companies on the mainland; that's the equivalent of approximately $2,000 for every Hawaii resident per year. Yet we have the most abundant supply of clean, natural renewable sources of energy: wind, wave and solar.
Investing those funds in building renewable energies in Hawaii companies would keep that $2 billion in our local economy. Fostering renewable energy would also diversify our economy and providing good jobs to keep our children here.
Cynthia Thielen's Energy Initiative
Aggressive Energy Efficiency Measures
I will move our Congress to dramatically increase our Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFÉ) Standards for automobiles manufactured or sold in the United States. The technology exists today. Foreign automakers are currently selling hybrid vehicles that operate efficiently at 50 miles to the gallon. The American auto industry has resisted adopting more efficient technologies, and consumers bear the burden of paying $3 per gallon for gas. I will advocate strongly to increase mandatory mileage standards.
I will move our Congress to adopt minimum building energy efficiency standards, based upon the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standards. LEED-certified buildings have reduced operating costs, healthier and more productive occupants, and conserve our natural resources. This initiative will include a requirement that all new home construction (wherever feasible) include renewable energy technology to satisfy most, if not all, of the home's energy requirements.
Lastly, I will move our Congress to increase minimum energy efficiency standards for the appliance industry. This will have the duel benefit of reducing our energy demand, while keeping more money in the pockets of consumers.
Aggressive Promotion of Renewable Energy
I will fight tirelessly to end large subsidies to the mature and well-financed oil industry and to aggressively support the development and adoption of renewable energy technology with real incentives. If we successfully transfer the billions of dollars currently subsidizing the oil and nuclear industry to renewable energy, average citizens could afford to install renewable power sources on their homes, leaving our nation more energy secure, and our citizens able to reinvest energy savings within the Unites States.
I will also use my demonstrated ability to achieve regulatory changes to eliminate barriers impeding the adoption of renewable energies. For example, coastal states in the USA are being stopped from implementing large scale wave energy projects by federal regulatory confusion. Federal agencies are competing to see which one "controls" wave energy development, and as a result, the renewable energy companies are shifting their efforts to other nations, installing systems in other nations. I will introduce legislation and work with the agencies to get this technology moving ahead, and demand an immediate resolution to the bureaucratic bickering.
Wave energy systems, particularly suited for Hawaii and other coastal states are being commercially installed in Portugal and Scotland. These systems can provide 100% of the power needed on all islands, except Oahu, where they can produce 80% of the power for industry, business and consumers.
Aggressive Steps to Develop Energy Systems Security to Protect Public Health and Safety
The October 15 earthquake-induced power outage reminded us of just how dependent we are upon electricity for our daily needs. Without traffic lights, gasoline pumps, supermarkets, restaurants, the means to cook or preserve food, access to high-rise buildings, and other amenities, our way of life is dealt a crippling blow. Any interruption in our local or global oil supply which leads to a longer outage would mean the end or running water in our homes, giving rise to a dire and immediate public health crisis- as well as a multitude of other foreseen and unforeseen consequences.
Our nation's power grid is vulnerable to attack, natural disaster, and shutdown in the event a pandemic reduces the skilled workforce to operate such a system. It's important to note that with our reliance upon foreign oil, our power grid is subject to occurrences in other countries and locales that disrupt the global market. Backup power that relies exclusively upon oil is vulnerable to disruption in the event our oil supply is threatened.
I will initiate legislation to ensure our nation's power systems are well maintained and upgraded. I will also initiate legislation to create a public infrastructure program to provide stand-alone renewable energy systems for critical public health and safety services, such as hospitals, police and fire stations, and shelters such as schools.
Contrast with Opponent
My opponent voted to support the Energy Policy Act of 2005 - an Act criticized by Republicans and Democrats alike for giving billions of dollars in subsidies to the oil and gas industries, and for doing little to promote renewable energy or increase our energy security.
My opponent's voting record demonstrates his "status quo" mentality relating to energy. His record supports
* "studying" natural energy resources despite the fact that the technology exists today and is being adopted in other countries;
* providing subsidies to mature and established oil and nuclear industries;
* not raising the automobile fuel efficiency standards and requiring only federal vehicles capable of operating on alternative fuels to do so;
* authorizing billions of dollars in cost overruns to nuclear power industry; and
* supporting drilling for oil in National Wildlife Preserves and in the Gulf Coast, which is extremely vulnerable to hurricanes.
My opponent's support of renewable energy incentives has been token at best. He has not been a leader for our state or for our nation in moving us toward energy self sufficiency and energy security.
In his 16 years in the United States Senate, he has demonstrated no leadership or bipartisanship on this issue - no ability to pass legislation or to achieve national change. In contrast, in the last four years I have worked with both parties in the Hawaii Legislature sponsored or cosponsored 34 bills that have become law.
With our finite global oil reserves dwindling, we are on the road to exhaustion of oil as a usable fuel resource, given our current rate of consumption. Half the world's reserves have been consumed, constituting for the greater part, our more accessible and cost-efficient oil reserves. Due to ever increasing demand from the US, as well as booming industrial economies in China and India, the only certainty is that remaining reserves will not last forever. The bottom line is that oil production has peaked, supply has dwindled, and demand is only increasing. We simply cannot afford to continue our current energy practices of relying almost exclusively on fossil fuels. We
Hawaii is blessed with an abundance of renewable energy resources- more so, perhaps, than any other place in the world, and it can become an even better place to live if we work to make it so. The energy/climate issue will become the greatest internal challenge our nation has ever faced- it will challenge us to change our way of life. We need to realize that imminent action is required, and it's about the survival of our people, our country, and our way of life. I will be a leader, for our state and our nation, to make those changes that are required.