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We can realize the green dream a little at a time

I would like to respond to Mark Henry's opinion piece "Green Dreamin'" (Feb. 21) with a letter I recently sent to U.S. Rep. Salud Carbajal (D-Santa Barbara):

Dear Congressman Carbajal,

I have reviewed the goals of the Green New Deal recently proposed as a congressional resolution. Although I agree with many of the overall goals of this resolution, I do not support it because I think it is too broad in scope and impractical to get widespread support for implementation. Instead, I believe legislative efforts should focus on the transition from using fossil fuels to renewable clean energy.

For this effort to succeed, we need broad support. I would first strongly emphasize the benefits that average Americans can experience in their daily lives. These benefits include saving money on electric bills and vehicle fuel costs, as well as improved public health. New job creation should also be emphasized. No matter what political affiliation you have, everyone can relate to more job opportunities, saving money, and healthier living in their daily lives.

To gain broad support, let's pick the low-hanging fruit that can be accomplished in fairly quick and easy fashion. This is the low-hanging fruit I would pick:

1) Install renewable energy electric infrastructure (such as rooftop and carport solar panel systems and wind turbines) for all federally owned facilities, to include office buildings, research and development facilities, military bases, the U.S. Post Office, national parks, and monuments, etc.

2) Install electric vehicle charging stations along all federal highways. This could be done in coordination with, and located at, existing privately owned fuel service stations. Federal grants can be provided to the states so they can expand this infrastructure to state highways. Doing this in a thoughtful, well-planned manner will greatly encourage more people to buy all electric vehicles.

3) Provide state grants to purchase electric public school and public transit buses and the recharge stations they would need. This would provide the added benefit of decreasing the exposure of hazardous vehicle exhaust to school children and all others who ride buses, thereby improving public health and lowering health expenses.

4) Provide state grants and low-interest loans to support homeowner installation of solar panels, battery storage systems (like the Tesla power wall), and electric vehicle charging outlets. Once a homeowner has this in place, an electric vehicle can be recharged at home. This will save money in fuel costs and save refueling time, providing greater convenience for people with busy lives. States can work with local utility companies in providing installation services and additional monetary incentives. We should get the electric utility industry on board so they can be part of the solution and not an obstacle to progress.

5) Provide incentives to U.S. automakers for them to build electric plug-in hybrid and all-electric SUVs, minivans, light trucks, and passenger vehicles. Extend and expand the federal credit program for electric vehicle purchases. If we commit to these incentives and credits, I believe the U.S. auto industry and the general public can accelerate the transition to renewable clean energy transportation.

If we could just focus on accomplishing the above ideas within the next five to 10 years, we would reduce carbon emissions, produce new good-paying jobs, save people lots of money over time, and improve public health. I realize that to do this will require lots of federal funds, but far less than the Green New Deal. I believe emphasizing all of the financial, health, and social benefits to people will make it easier for everyone to start pulling the rope in the same direction.

With your commitment to this future vision and strong leadership, this "Renewable Energy Electric Infrastructure and Transportation Program" can be accomplished. Let's get the ball rolling! Δ

Dean Arigghi is a constituent in San Luis Obispo, part of the 24th Congressional District. Send your thoughts through the editor at clanham@newtimesslo.com or write a letter for publication and email it to letters@newtimesslo.com.

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