Congressman Steve Israel Federal Energy R&D
May 20, 2011 @ 12:00 am EDT
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Independence Party of Huntington, Ken Baynes, was invited to introduce the speaker
This morning our speaker, Congressman Steve Israel gave his assessment of where we are going with our energy policy, or the lack thereof. He brought to our attention the absolute absurdity of our wars in the Middle East. Not that he disagreed with the wars, he didn’t address that, but the fact that we are borrowing money from the Chinese, an economic competitor, to pay the oil producing countries who then train suicide bombers with the cash, is absurd.
He suggested that the can-do mindset of making things happen got lost along the way. "The 110 corridor was sod farms and pumpkin patches prior to WWII. Very quickly it became the manufacturing center of Long Island’s war effort" according to Mr. Israel. "We had the will."
He told us a little about DARPA. This agency develops the most sophisticated weaponry with a large budget in secrecy. The results of this research are impressive. He then proffered the idea that the same approach to energy research would yield the same level of results
Steve spoke about John F Kennedy’s approach to the space program. In JFK’s speech at Rice University he stated "we will land a man on the moon and return him safely to earth within a decade." Of course, at that time, nobody knew how that was going to happen. What we knew was that we wanted it to happen. Therein lies the difference between that era’s leaders and what we have in Washington today. Nobody back then wrung their hands and lamented that it was too hard to accomplish. I’m sure there were doubters but the quality of national leadership was great enough to overcome the naysayers.
While the people in Washington are not creating an energy plan, there are things that we can do locally with what is known technology. The congressman told us of a program in the Town of Babylon known as PACE. Babylon residents can finance their energy saving equipment such as solar panels, geothermal systems and window replacement by agreeing to an increase in taxes over the next 20 years. The example Israel gave was a $30, 000 energy upgrade that would save more money than the monthly increase in taxes. If you can save $400 / month and the extra taxes 207.37/ month ($30,000 at 5.5% over 20 years) the upgrade is a net gain. If you sell the house you are not responsible for the balance of the loan. It stays with the house. In addition the house is more saleable. We need to repeat this program in other Long Island towns
Mr. Israel spent some of his time with us discussing the benefits of investing in infrastructure. The examples he gave were the Erie Canal. The Erie Canal opened up the Great Lakes to the commerce of New York Harbor and catapulted the State of New York into a major financial power. The transcontinental railroad was built in the middle of the Civil War and opened up the country to travel and commerce that knitted this continent together. The Interstate Defense Highway as it was called then again changed the economics of the country. "We have built our way out of challenging times in the past, and we need to it again" according to Israel.
He completed his remarks by stating that for every billion invested in infrastructure has a 6 billion return to the economy. Steve suggested that in consideration of the present economic situation an infrastructure bank can be created using private funds and union pension funds with backing from the federal government. One thing is for sure we need ideas.