Energy, the Environment & Environmental Justice Policy Center

JSPAN Wants Sound Energy Policy

 The Issue       

Energy policy must be the concern of every Jew. Our heritage teaches that we are responsible for our environment and for gentler treatment of the earth. Moreover, continuing dependence on foreign oil threatens America's security. Real energy reform would follow these principles:

  • Spending money on oil or gas producers should not be our main energy policy.
  • Conservation deserves to be a high priority, even though it will not balance the energy budget by itself.
  • Putting an end to subsidies for coal, oil, and natural gas, all of which produce greenhouse gas.
  • Solar power, wind power, hydro power and tidal power technology and projects need to be developed.
  • We must emphasize waste derived fuel (ethanol too, not as a crop, but by using chaff from food and animal feed crops).

 JSPAN Policy

Speaking Sense to Power: An Energy Policy for JSPAN

Energy supply, demand and prices are, by any test, global social questions that affect Jews and non-Jews and require our attention and action.  At long intervals the Congress speaks on energy policy, but special interests too often dominate decisions.

Why does energy policy require our guidance,? Why should there be an energy policy at all? Why not let the marketplace make the hard choices? 

First, because it is too late to consider having "no" energy policy.  Our government extensively manages energy projects, prices and supplies through a chain of alphabet soup agencies and through the tax laws. 

Second, energy is vital to our lives and welfare, and to the welfare of our industries.  We need to have adequate energy supplies at all times, without destablizing "blips" in the price and delivery chains; even short term disruptions can drastically affect our health and welfare. 

Third, the energy choices we make, both as a nation and as millions of individuals, add up to massive effects on our environment.  The external impacts (effects that are not reflected in current energy market prices or supplies) are potentially huge and very long lasting. 

Finally, our dependence on imported energy dramatically affects our foreign affairs, weakens our ability to support other democracies, and undermines our currency.

Unless we speak out about energy policy, as concerned citizens with no special interests to serve, we leave the field open for those who seek individual profit or advantage.  As it turns out, there are opportunities in the state and local agencies which implement energy policy for citizens to make a valid contribution.  Below are several fresh initiatives that can be implemented effectively.

The guiding principles for JSPAN's energy policy are:

-- that we encourage all to be gentler inhabitants of this planet.

-- that we strongly advocate for energy conservation programs, included mandated standards and technologies.

-- that we seek global stability, and that we in the United States strive to reduce our reliance on foreign fuels, especially from unstable areas of the world. 

-- that diversity and reliability should factor heavily into our energy policy.

-- that we cushion the impacts on the least able among us, of the frequent shifts and vicissitudes of energy markets and prices.

To advance these principles, JSPAN approves and authorizes the following four policies and ten action initiatives.

(1)  In order to conserve energy, we urge the following steps:

--  Ever tighter gas mileage standards

--  Equally stringent energy efficiency standards for SUVs and large trucks as those for cars.

--  Tax on diesel oil at the level equivalent to gasoline taxes, state and federal.

--  We encourage the Governor of Pennsylvania to develop our own programs to increase vehicle mileage, using the purchasing power of the state and local governments as well as Pennsylvania citizens to advance the goal of energy efficiency.

(2)  The immense run up in energy costs places especially heavy burdens on the poor.  JSPAN must help draw attention to the problem:

--  Support for energy assistance to low income families, through programs including the federal LIHEAP funds (low income heating assistance program), the LIURP (low income usage reduction program) conservation effort, and the Utility Emergency Funds obtained from utility customer contributions has not kept pace with fuel costs.  We urge state and federal agencies to proceed creatively to find additional funding to assist the needy through these or parallel programs.

--  Shutting off ustomers  for non-payment threatens the health of the poor.  Shutoff is not the answer to the problem.  The Governor needs to find a better solution!

(3)  We are concerned about climate change and other environmental impacts of many energy-producing technologies. 

-- We will monitor the progress of governmental agencies that are responsible to meqsure and report on environmental degradation. We will demonstrate by our presence that there are citizens who care about the problem, and we will encourage the state agencies and local governments to implement apprporiate regulations, rulings and operating practices. 

-- We will urge the Public Utility Commission to encourage utilities to enter long-term supply arrangements for alternative energy sources in order to encourage the financing and development of those sources, paying attention as well to avoid driving the cost of electric energy significantly higher. 

We add that all energy policies need to consider the environmental impact of each proposed strategy.

(4)  We must avoid "not in my backyard" (NIMBY) energy policy decision-making. There are two A terminal in this region could reduce the cost of gas to ultimate customers, according to our experts.  Although attention must be paid to satisfy safety concerns, we cannot turn our backs on this technology. 

--  JSPAN will undertake educational efforts to encourage informed action on projects such as proposals to establish LNG (liquefied natural gas) terminals on the Delaware River, while insisting that public safety and environmental protection receive the highest level of consideration. 

--  We support the demonstration of clean coal technologies and steps to assure that adequate financing is available for sound projects.    

-- We recognize the economic benefits of shale oil production, but insist upon government-funded studies conducted by independent academics to determine if such production can be carried out in a way that preserves the environment and the health of all citizens.

Through these and other similar initiatives, JSPAN believes that we can truly advance tikkun olam, literally ensuring the repair of the world by being more gentle in extracting resources, more responsible about the waste we leave on it, and more attuned to the effects of energy policies and use on the health of all indiividuals and of the planet.

Approved by the Board of Directors, October 17, 2005, updated to reflect current conditions as of Februatry 2015.

 Experts   The Issue  | JSPAN Policy  | Internet Resources  | Action Items  | Articles

The Energy Policy Center seeks new members who can buuild on the work already accomplished by former JSPAN board members Kenneth Myers and David Boonin, assisted by acknowledged experts in the field:

  • Professor A. Denny Ellerman, Ph.D., Senior Lecturer, Sloan School of Management, MIT. For 13 years Dr. Ellerman served as Executive Director of MIT's Center for Energy and Environmental Policy Research.

  • David Barasch is a practicing attorney who served as the Pennsylvania Consumer Advocate. From 1993 until 2001, Mr. Barasch served as United States Attorney for the Middle District of Pennsylvania.