Now that both the Democratic and Republican National Conventions have been completed and we are headed into a heated 90 day battle between the big choice of two candidates, it’s time to start comparing them. Unfortunately, when it comes to the environment, neither are looking so hot (unlike our planet….but that’s another story).  Sure, one is  lesser of the two evils when it comes to energy policy, but it would be nice if we had a few more people to choose from (once again…that’s another story).  And since there are no third-party candidates who are likely to take any votes from these two, let’s just look at them!

Let’s start with the newcomer, Mitt Romney. AP and Romney share an interesting history, as he was once the governor of our founding state: Massachusetts.  Now you might wonder how such a progressive state would vote in a conservative, well he ran on a different platform back then (yet again…that’s another story). If we were talking about Romney from 6 years ago, this would be a different story. In fact, some of his environmental moves have inspired some of Obama’s.

However, let’s talk Romney running today. He does have some interesting ties to Big Oil and has accepted campaign donations from them. In return, he has stated that he will expand drilling for both gas and oil in the United States. He also plans on extending the Big Oil tax cuts and subsidies, yet at the same time, opposes any tax incentives to alternative energy production within the US. And on that note, he is also against raising standards for energy efficiency in general. He seems to oppose any environmental technology advances, even making the statements: “You can’t drive a car with a windmill on it,” and “[fuel efficiency standards are] disadvantageous for domestic manufacturers.” Even further frustrating is his stance on public lands. He has supported the Paul Ryan budget that calls for the selling of 3.3 million acres of public lands to private industry. And don’t even get me started on Global Warming, although once stating that humans were speeding up the production of carbon emissions, he now mocks that idea.

If this future seems a little bleak, we do have a little better news coming from the blue camp. During the 2008 election, Obama spoke a LOT about the environment, clean energy, and green jobs. However, his track record as President hasn’t actually put these ideas into motion. He has mentioned in State of the Union addresses and taken a pledge  that the Federal government should cut oil subsidies and use them to invest in alternative energy.  Unfortunately, it hasn’t happened in the last four years. Perhaps it something for the future four years? He has also mentioned  investing Federal funds in alternative energies, however, he lists “clean” coal and nuclear as sources of renewable energy. In a bit of good news, he has put into place some energy efficiency standards that will bring commercial facilities to be more efficient by 2025, initiated new rules on emissions from coal power plants that will save lives, and set a goal of 1 million electric vehicles on the road by 2025.

We are pleased with some of these initiatives, but disappointed in his track record. He does support green jobs and promised 5 million, however, we haven’t really seen that plan come to fruition. He’s also increased offshore drilling and done little in the way of ending fracking. He also has spoken for fighting Global Warming in the past, but has failed to mention it in this campaign or done little to work on this issue over the past four years. However, it should be noted the State Department under his administration is working on international pollution regulations. That being said, he has a pretty inconsistent record on environmental policy. 

So there you have it, a quick rundown of both main candidates views on the environment. It’s looking like we have a choice of a C or F student. So take your pick! Personally, we will have to go with the lesser of two evils on the environmental front. Here’s to hoping over the next few months the campaign focuses on these environmental issue a little more!

Unless you have been living under a rock or on an outer space adventure the past few weeks, you have undoubtedly heard about the tragic oil spill off of the Gulf of Mexico. 200,000 gallons of oil continue to flow into the sea as efforts to quell the flow of oil have been unsuccessful thus far.

In addition to the tragedy of the eleven men who lost their lives as the drill rig Deepwater Horizon sank into the Gulf on April 22nd,  worries continue to multiply about the long term negative effects this immense spill will have on the environment and its many inhabitants for weeks, months and years to come.

While history has taught us that oil spills such as this one come with dire consequences for the ecosystems surrounding the area of the spill, the long term damage created by this most recent spill remains to be seen. Immediate effects are beginning to become more crystallized, as Reuters is reporting that seven dolphins and over a hundred sea turtles have washed onto shore dead as what officials are assuming is a result of the oil spill.

Environmentalist, such as Aaron Viles of the Gulf Restoration Network, are quick to criticize the lack of information being offered about the damage being done to the environment as a result of this catastrophic spill.

Viles  states, “There’s a lot of concern now about the marine impact and we’re not getting a truly transparent response from NOAA(the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Resulting criticism concerning this disaster are not limited to NOAA or other groups one likely has never heard of before, but are  also being directed at President Barack Obama and his Administration, who in recent months announced plans to expand offshore drilling efforts in the United States.

The President,  after resolving  to temporarily suspend the development of  new offshore drilling locations pending  a government safety review of the drilling process,  asserted, “Let me be clear, I continue to believe that domestic oil production is an important part of our overall strategy for energy security.” Even though this tragic oil spill highlights American unsustainable dependence on oil, it is not quite enough to move the administration to focus on weaning the country away from gas and petroleum based products.

Funnily enough -not so much in a “haha, this Garfield comic is a hoot!“ kind of way,  but in a more “Hmmm, that is an interesting coincidence” type  of way- on April 28th,  just days after the devastating Gulf spill,  the development of  the first wind farm offshore of the U.S was announced by Government officials.

This is not  to declare a massive, multi-tiered conspiracy is taking place.  The creation of this wind farm is a step in the right direction for the energy future of this country. Regardless of whether or not the timing of the announcement had anything to do with a skillful PR move in order to throw environmentalists a bone during this hugely criticized oil crisis, it still was a plan years in the making, so it is likely a happy coincidence. (She says as she reaches for the tinfoil to wrap around her over sized noggin’. I kid, I kid…or do I? DUN, DUN, DUN!)

Conspiracy theories aside, this wind farm alone will only act as a band aid on a gunshot wound, or a huge oil spill as it were. Halting offshore drilling until the oil slick clears is not enough.This tragic occurrence should not be swept under the table or downplayed.  This sinking oil rig may as well have been a huge blaring alarm clock- one that screeches endlessly and comes with a dangerous snooze button.

We can not afford any more snoozing;  putting off radical changes to the way we as a society treat the energy crisis for another 10 or 15 years because we are too lazy to think about it in the here and now. This is not a time to sleep in or to do what is easiest when we know what is right.

It is time to wake up and take action! We must roll out of bed and painfully pull ourselves into our reality. No matter what you think of driving or plastic bags, the truth is the planet simply does not contain enough oil to sustain the current culture’s lifestyle. We have to make some serious global changes in our energy, transportation, manufacturing and everyday lives. There is just no way around it and this oil spill is like a hotel wake up call to make these changes.

Sadly, like my affinity for stone-washed  jean chaps, the public at large does not appear to share in my opinion on the permanent halting of  the expansion  of offshore drilling efforts.  A recent telephone poll conducted by the Associated Press finds that American adults are unmoved by this latest tragedy in terms of their opinion of offshore drilling. A shocking 50 percent of those polled report still favoring offshore drilling, opposed to the 38 percent who disapprove.

I will be damned if I can not drive the three blocks to 7-11 for a Big Gulp, but it ain’t no skin off my back if a bunch of weirdo fish die.” – Some thirsty guy  driving a Hummer to 7-11. *(Quote may or may not be fictional.)

*It is.

Weaning ourselves off oil will not be an easy task. As a people we will need to learn to conserve energy- walk to 7-11 when that Big Gulp thirst hits you.  Heck, you can even roller blade- which, may I add, would look even cooler , if you sported some jean chaps on your stems while you bladed. Just sayin’.

As for the government, they need to take this alarm clock blaring in their ears as more than just a minor inconvenience that causes them to temporarily shelf foolish plans to expand offshore drilling  and make a real commitment to renewable energies that does not include amplifying our already gargantuan dependence on oil.

If real changes are not made the next alarm may start sounding on your shore and no amount of snooze buttons or delays are going to halt the reality that awaits us.

-Meghan Hurley

President Obama’s recent announcement of his administration’s intention  to broaden offshore drilling to  waters in the Atlantic, the Gulf of Mexico and the North coast of Alaska may have been more eloquent than the Republican’s favored sentiment, “Drill, baby, drill”, but the core message seemed to be eerily similar.

President Obama also preemptively addressed his critics in his speech, stating, “There will be those who strongly disagree with this decision, including those who say we should not open any new areas to drilling. But what I want to emphasize is that this announcement is part of a broader strategy that will move us from an economy that runs on fossil fuels and foreign oil to one that relies more on homegrown fuels and clean energy.

Obama say what?

He further attempted to cushion the blow of this polarizing announcement by reminding the public of the positive things he and his administration have done for the environment and intend to do in the future, noting, Already, we’ve made the largest investment in clean energy in our nation’s history.

The President’s justifications have not been met with the understanding that he may have been hoping for, in fact, it seems as though his tooting of his own horn and his “the end justifies the means” defense is falling on a sea of deaf ears.

Critics have also been quick to identify this as a calculated move on his behalf in order to earn favor with Republicans. Ben Feller of the Huffington Post explains, “Inside politically conscious Washington, Obama’s announcement was viewed, too, as a play to win Republican support for a comprehensive climate change bill.”  While the intent of the President’s decision remains to be seen, it seems to be another rationalization for the expansion offshore drilling- if appeasing Republicans by giving them the offshore drilling that they love to enthusiastically chant for means that a bill that will be a positive step for the environment gets passed as a result, then is it really so bad?

Intentions aside, environmentalists are taking this surprise move by the President as a slap in the face. Among the offended, The Executive Director of Greenpeace, Phil Radford, offers “Expanding offshore drilling in areas that have been protected for decades threatens our oceans and the coastal communities that depend on them with devastating oil spills, more pollution and climate change.

Regardless of the reason or reasons President Obama made this decision, the reality is that offshore drilling comes with huge risks to the environment and to our nation‘s reputation worldwide. This decision gives the appearance that the President giving a huge thumbs up to the indulgent, gas guzzling habits prevalent in the United States today. Does President Obama really believe that offshore drilling is the methadone this junkie nation needs to finally kick the oil habit?

Supporting  the development and the implementation of cleaner energies would be a more proactive, long-term way to achieve energy independence. Compromises that include risky endeavors of seeking out more oil seem  not only senseless, but downright dangerous. Offshore drilling- no matter how much you dress it up or how many pretty bows you stick on it -comes with huge risks to the environment. Oil spills are dire events that have long-lasting negative repercussions for all types of life.

If you disagree with the President’s intention to extend offshore drilling, please, we urge you, to let your opinion be heard. Contact the President or sign this petition on Moveon.org. Also, remember to do your part and consume less energy.

Together, with a little effort and innovation-and perhaps a twelve step program-we can evolve into a nation that is free at last of our nasty oil habit.

-Meghan Hurley

Although in earlier posts we mentioned that our company has not openly supported a specific candidate over another, upon many nights of research, we have decided to officially endorse the Obama campaign!! After looking over countless articles and reading Obama and Biden’s beliefs, choices, and plans for our country, it has become clear that their views are very much in line with the views and vision of Autonomie Project.

We feel that this election is too close for comfort and is of such historical significance that we must do everything we can, as individuals and as a company, to support our chosen candidate.  That includes educating you, beloved readers, on the issues that matter most to us and how Obama and Joe Biden plan to help.  So read away, and let us know if you agree!

  1. Investment and Creation of 5 Million Green Jobs: AP applauds Obama’s support of the Green economy. Obama believes that one of the keys to boosting the economy and improving the environment is the development of a robust Green Market sector that would provide millions of jobs to replace the millions we are losing due to volatile capital markets, all while making our planet a healthier place.
  2. Support for Small Business and Start Ups: This one hits especially close to home, as AP is barely a year old and needs all the start-up help we can get!  We are just a few friends on a mission to spread the word of Fair Trade through organic fashions. Obama’s plan provides tax relief to small businesses so that innovation (like ours!) can be encouraged and new jobs created.  He also supports funding for incubators of start ups in disadvantaged communities.
  3. Worker’s Rights: Obviously labor and worker’s rights are very important to us at Autonomie. Obama has called to raise the minimum wage and to end the use of replacement workers when a union is on strike.  He also wants to push forth the Employee Free Choice Act protecting workers’ rights to organize.
  4. New Energy for America: This is the phrase Obama has used to describe his energy and environmental plan. Highlights of the plan include a move to reduce green house gases by 80%; develop an American-made, plug-in hybrid car market that will put 1 million hybrid cars on the road by 2015; end our addiction to foreign oil; and to push forth a plan to implement alternative energy as a source for electricity in American homes.
  5. A Responsible End to the Iraq War: It’s no question at this point that the Iraq War was a mistake and is eating up billions of American taxpayer money. Obama is calling for a responsible withdrawal of troops and plans to focus on finding the real people behind the 9-11 attacks.

These are just a few of the key issues we see eye-to-eye with Obama and are the reasons why we have chosen to not only vote for him as individuals, but to endorse him as a company!  Please stay informed, volunteer for the campaign, and realize this is the most important election for our generation. The choices we make on November 4th will affect our country and the world for us and our future generations.

The choice is ours. Let’s make real change together! OBAMA-BIDEN 2008!

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