Energy and Environment
THE NATURAL LAW PARTY will create a future in which renewable, nonpolluting, inexpensive energy is abundantly available, the air in our cities is pure and clean, and our rivers and lakes are free of pollution. We foresee a time when waste is efficiently managed; when the needless destruction of forests and species diversity has ceased; when there are many more parks, gardens, and fountains; when new jobs have been created to develop renewable energy sources, conserve energy, and protect the environment; and when global cooperation ends environmental threats to the future of humankind.
The standard of living and the economic vitality of the United States depend on the increasing availability of inexpensive, clean, renewable sources of energy.
Until now, the U.S. has relied mainly on fossil fuels. Coal, oil, and natural gas account for the majority of energy used for electricity, heat, transportation, and industry. However, these fuels are nonrenewable and limited in supply. Their use results in air pollution, acid rain, pollution from mercury and other contaminants, the threat of global warming, and other environmental hazards that may endanger future generations with irreversible global changes. Air pollution kills 64,000 Americans a year -- a higher death toll than for auto accidents [1, 2]. The indirect costs of burning fossil fuels -- health care, damage from acid rain, the impact on tourism and quality of life, etc. -- are incalculable .
Oil imports are responsible for a large percentage of our trade deficit. Americas dependence on foreign oil creates economic vulnerability and political instability between the U.S. and the Middle East. For example, Desert Storm, with its enormous attendant costs, was largely to protect Americas critical oil interests in the Middle East. The costs of such military operations must be added to the high health and environmental costs of fossil fuels.
By subsidizing these costs with taxpayer dollars, the Federal Government artificially suppresses the cost of fossil fuels relative to sustainable alternatives, such as wind and solar, which are not subsidized. The government thereby perpetuates our continued dependence on fuels that are environmentally and economically unsustainable.
In addition to the environmental hazards posed by current energy use, toxic agricultural and industrial chemicals threaten the health and safety of all Americans. Recent estimates indicate that exposure to such chemicals is a factor in 75% of all cancer cases in the U.S. .
Short-sighted environmental policies contribute to alarming reductions of earths nonrenewable resources. Approximately 93% of the virgin forests in the Pacific Northwest have been cut, and most of the remainder is scheduled to be cut in the next few years -- nearly all of it on public lands. Biodiversity is being threatened at an alarming rate, not only in our vanishing forests, but in the oceans. Hundreds of thousands of sea mammals are being exterminated by drift-net fishing. More than 50% of our wetlands that provided habitats for wildlife have been destroyed, and overgrazed prairie lands are being increasingly eroded.
At the recent summit in Kyoto, Japan, where all nations assembled to address global environmental concerns, the U.S. Government took a stand to protect economic interests that it perceived to be in conflict with environmental interests. Protecting the environment was equated with loss of jobs, increased costs of goods, and loss of economic vitality. Today, Americas environmental protections are being further eroded by a Congress held captive to special interest groups.
The Natural Law Party is committed to increasing both energy efficiency and the use of renewable, safe, and nonpolluting energy sources. This approach will protect our environment, create energy self-sufficiency, and add to the economic prosperity of the nation. Through programs that will create new jobs and new industries in energy conservation and renewable energy sources, the Natural Law Party will move away from the hazardous and wasteful use of fossil fuels in ways that will simultaneously benefit the environment and save the nation hundreds of billions of dollars.
To improve energy efficiency and self-sufficiency, the Natural Law Party will:
Support basic research on energy efficiency, energy storage (both for large- and small-scale applications), and fuel cells, in addition to electric, hydrogen, and highly energy-efficient vehicles.
Provide financial incentives for homeowners and industry to use available energy-efficiency measures, such as insulation and compact fluorescent lighting.
Set performance standards for energy-consuming and pollutant-emitting products in order to encourage adoption of state-of-the-art technologies and to protect responsible and innovative manufacturers from being undercut by those who produce cheaper but dirtier products. By increasing efficiency, the U.S. can significantly reduce energy consumption -- with substantial economic and environmental benefits for the nation [4,5]
The Natural Law Party also supports the development of new energy sources, such as solar, wind, and biomass -- which could be cost-competitive now if government stopped subsidizing fossil fuels. The Natural Law Party is committed to increasing the proportion of renewable, environmentally clean energy sources by the year 2000. To achieve these goals, the Natural Law Party will:
Remove federal subsidies for fossil fuels and nuclear energy. Require that construction of new electrical power plants take into account all long-term costs to the nation, such as waste disposal, environmental protection, and health costs.
Progressively implement a tax on fossil fuels to reflect their real cost to the nation, including environmental cleanup, medical costs, and security costs in the Persian Gulf.
By increasing efficiency, the U.S. can reduce energy use by approximately 2% a year, from 84.4 quadrillion BTUs in 1990 to 69.2 quads in the year 2000. For example, conservation measures such as compact fluorescent lighting can save up to $25 billion in annual fuel costs 
Minimize the federal governments role as a micromanager in the energy marketplace, and ensure that the construction of major capital assets (including buildings and electric power plants) reflect the national energy policy goals over the lifetime of the assets 
The Natural Law Party does not support the development of nuclear energy. At present, municipalities subsidize nuclear plants and the Federal Government funds nuclear reactor construction with tax-deductible bonds. But no one can safeguard for 10,000 years the highly toxic wastes generated by these reactors -- which is what the Federal Government has agreed to do. (The governments efforts to clean up these wastes is yet another subsidy for pollution-generating energy sources.) In addition, the known worldwide reserves of low-cost, high-grade nuclear fuel are running low, which will soon necessitate a transition to the next generation of nuclear power plants: advanced converters and breeder reactors. These reactors have the technological advantage of producing their own fuel, but they also produce bomb-grade fissionable materials as unavoidable by-products. With the widespread availability of bomb-grade material, nuclear containment becomes effectively impossible. Therefore, for both economic and security reasons, the Natural Law Party does not support further development and construction of nuclear energy plants.
The Natural Law Party will lead the effort to clean up America's polluted air, rivers, lakes, beaches, wetlands, and oceans by tackling industrial pollution at its source. When businesses are forced to stop polluting, they frequently come up with innovative ways to make use of their polluting by-products. In Scandinavia, for example, businesses in any given region collectively decide how to use polluting wastes from one business as part of the manufacturing process of another, with the goal of zero pollution.
To eliminate toxic waste, the Natural Law Party supports research into innovative technologies such as the plasma torch, a cost-effective process that cooks contaminated soil into inert, harmless glassy rocks suitable for road gravel. A similar technology, devised for liquid nuclear waste, drains out water and salts and turns the remainder into glass logs that are safer for long-term storage.
America should lead the global effort to prevent the destruction of the earths forests, the decimation of the diversity of species, and the potential damage from ozone depletion and the greenhouse effect. A moratorium should be declared on cutting timber in national parks, national forests, and national monuments until a sustainable management plan for cutting is instituted.
To make these changes requires flexibility and ingenuity in the development of new environmentally sound technologies -- not giving up the present standard of living, but raising it through developing energy sources, industries, and modes of transportation that are in harmony with nature.
The programs supported by the Natural Law Party for cleaning up the environment and protecting it from irreversible damage will stimulate the economy -- actually paying a dividend of increased energy efficiency and economic vitality. Cleaning up polluted rivers and lakes will increase fishing industries, increase tourism, and increase revenues from outdoor recreational activities. Cleaning the air will reduce the medical costs of respiratory disease and lung cancer. Protecting forests and reducing exhaust emissions will avert the potentially disastrous expenses of adapting to climatic changes due to global warming.
Since pollution is primarily caused by human behavior, bringing the individual and the nation into harmony with natural law will greatly facilitate implementation of the above programs. The Natural Law Party therefore supports educational programs that promote broad comprehension and pollution-free behavior -- behavior that is in accord with natural law, and does not create problems for society or the environment.
- Allen, Scott, Study: Air Pollution Killing Thousands, Des Moines Register, May 9, 1996, p. 1.
- According to a 1995 report from the Department of Health and Human Services, environmental toxins are responsible for 14% of annual deaths in America.
- If the real costs associated with the use of polluting fuels were appropriately distributed -- for example, if the environmental costs of gasoline were included in its cost at the pump -- the free-market system would have eliminated fossil fuels long ago. In essence, the government is blocking free enterprise and free-market competition by subsidizing fossil fuels and not their nonpolluting competitors.
- See Environmental Health Perspectives 103 (Suppl 8): 301-306, 1995; and Journal of the American Medical Association 270 (18): 2207-2212, 1993. Individuals with high body burdens of PCBs, DDT, and other such compounds have higher levels of cancer, liver damage, reproductive disorders, immune-system suppression, and neurological problems (see Annual Review of Public Health 18: 211-244, 1997; and Environmental Health Perspectives 100: 259-268, 1992). Since such contaminants degrade very slowly in the environment, governmental attempts to control sources of exposure may not solve the problem.
- According to a study by the Electric Power Research Institute, the introduction of energy conservation practices could reduce electricity use in the U.S. by as much as 55% (Romm, The Economic Benefits of Combatting Global Warming, 1992).
- Further research shows that existing energy-conservation technologies can cut the use of fossil fuels in half, eliminating dependence on foreign oil -- the largest component of our trade deficit. One study, entitled Americas Energy Choices, published by the Union of Concerned Scientists, concludes that the U.S. can dramatically reduce energy use and air pollution, and increase the use of renewable technologies at a significant cost savings to the nation.
The cost of energy to our nation is a substantial proportion of our gross national product. We spent 15% of our GNP on energy in 1990, or a total of $847 billion. According to the schedule proposed by the Natural Law Party, we would spend only 10.2% by the year 2005, cutting hundreds of billions of dollars from the nations energy bill.