I recently wrote a letter to Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD) to ask him for support for a realistic and sound energy policy in the next administration (whether it’s an administration led by Democrat Barack Obama or Republican John McCain). Here’s the text of the letter:

Dear Senator Cardin,

I want to thank you for your progressive approach to issues that face America today. I want, as a Maryland resident and one of your constituents, to ask that you insist on a strong energy policy in the next administration, be it Democrat under Barack Obama or Republican under John McCain. I ask that you, and other senators in Congress as well as representatives in the House, regardless of party affiliation, fight for an energy policy that will bring America into the lead once more in the near and long term future. This policy should not only focus on continually increasing CAFE standards for fuel economy but also provide Federal investments in renewable energy technologies such as solar, wind and wave generated power. I ask that you support the following efforts:

1. Increase the Federal tax rebates for residential solar installation from the current amount of $2000 to $5000 or more. If more homeowners and commerical organizations were to install solar panels to provide a portion of their energy needs we would reduce our dependence on natural gas (which, as you know, is extracted from oil fields and is tied to our increased dependence on foreign oil sources) and coal and help us reach our longer term goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions and help mitigate the impact and damage of global warming.

2. Expand the current tax rebates for consumers who buy hybrid or electric vehicles and raise the cap on the rebate which is based on the number of vehicles sold. This would encourage consumers to buy hybrid or fully electric vehicles which would further reduce our consumption of oil.

3. Encourage the use of rail transport for the shipping of goods across the country. I realize that there would be subsequent job loss in the trucking industry but the fact remains that we must rebuild an efficient goods transportation mechanism through the use of rail which can provide cleaner, more cost-effective transport using less oil.

4. Invest in and encourage the use of nuclear energy. While I realize that many people, including those concerned for the environment such as myself, would like to see us derive our energy from clean, renewable sources such as the sun or the wind, the fact remains that nuclear energy is our next best hope and has a part to play in an overall, balanced, energy policy.

5. Encourage companies to increase their use of telecommuting for their employees. As more workers are able to telecommute we would reduce the number of vehicles on the road and subsequently our overall use of oil. We have had the technology today for companies to provide telecommuting as an option for their workers for many years and Congress should send the next president an energy bill that encourages companies to take advantage of these technologies as an overall approach to reducing our dependency on oil as well as combatting global warming.

6. Increase the Federal tax on gasoline to ensure that the price NEVER again falls below $4 per gallon or, based on the current value of oil and gas, $5 per gallon. I realize that in the current economy that sounds counter-intuitive but the by ensuring that gas never falls below a given threshold in price you will ensure that the current interest and investment in alternative, renewable, energy sources and technologies will never fall by the wayside the way it did back in the early 1980s. In addition the income generated from the gas tax can be used to repair and reinvigorate our crumbling infrastructure as well as invest in modern, efficient mass transit systems.

7. To encourage Americans to buy smaller vehicles which are more fuel efficient I would ask that you support a tax on non-commercial vehicles above 5000 lb GVWR. This, coupled with the tax rebates and incentives for hybrid and electric vehicles, will further encourage consumers to focus their new vehicle purchases on smaller, more fuel efficient vehicles and will help reduce our consumption of gasoline.

While the above suggestions do not represent all possibilities for a future energy policy I would encourage you to use these points as a starting block for a bill in Congress to help accelerate the reduction in our dependence on foreign oil and energy sources. Our national security as well as our foreign policy interests are at stake when foreign governments or organizations hold our economy hostage to their resources. America has been a world leader in the past and must continue to do so in the future. Just as we had an industrial revolution which propelled us forward to be a manufacturing leader and we had an information revolution with the Internet in the 1990s, we are now at the beginning of a “Green Energy Revolution” that can propel us forward once more as world leaders and help stop the damage caused by greenhouse gas emissions and global warming.

I urge you to work with the next administration to ensure that Congress supports a solid, sound energy policy that relies on multiple technologies and energy sources and that paves the way to an energy-independent America.

Thank you for your hard work in the Senate and I look forward to your continuing representation of Maryland in the US Congress.

Best Regards,
Ido Dubrawsky

I will submit a similar letter to Senator Barbara Mikulski as well as Representative Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) and anyone else who can help shape the energy policy of the next administration. The last thing we need is another energy policy like the one President Bush and Vice President Cheney came up with — the “No Energy Policy” Policy.