Transcript: Bernie Sanders (sustainable energy and the economy), Jun 02 2006

Bernie talks about sustainable energy, global warmng and job opportunities.

Thom Hartmann "Brunch" with Bernie Sanders 02 June 2006

Congressman Bernie Sanders of Vermont is on Thom's show for the first hour nearly every Friday. He's currently running for the senate. This transcript is of a portion of such an hour when sustainability and the economy were discussed. Bernie's web site is

[Thom Hartmann] ... Bernie, what's on your plate for the day?

[Bernie Sanders] Well, a couple of things. We just did a press conference here in Vermont a few hours ago on the issue of sustainable energy and the absolute need for the Republican leadership and the president to try to do their best to really understand the crisis that we're facing in terms of global warming and environmental degradation and to understand that if we move forward on energy conservation and sustainable energy, you know what? We're going to create millions and millions of good paying jobs in America and that this is a win-win situation. We're fighting for the life of the planet. We're fighting for our economy and it is beyond, beyond the wildest of imaginations to think that we continue to give corporate welfare to oil economies while we ignore all the potential that exists with sustainable energy.

[Thom Hartmann] Yeah, this could make the dot com book look like a hiccup.

[Bernie Sanders] Absolutely! Absolutely! I mean, you just think about what kind of jobs can be created when we retrofit old buildings, when we move to automobiles that are not getting less mileage per gallon today than we got 20 years ago, when we begin to explore what the potential of wind and solar and hydrogen, biomass, coal with carbon sequestration, all the other technologies that out there. We can make a transportation system. We can make an economy clean and in the process we save the planet and we create millions of jobs.

[Thom Hartmann] Do you think that Al Gore and his movie, have you had an opportunity to see it?

[Bernie Sanders] I haven't. It's coming to Burlington very soon and I certainly look forward to seeing it.

[Thom Hartmann] Yeah. I saw the live show. He came to Portland here about a year ago and did a live, you know, his live gig, which is what the movie is based on. And it was in the Civic center, it could hold like 2,000 people and we got there an hour early and the room filled up with 2,000 people and there were still a thousand people outside. They were banging on the doors.

[Bernie Sanders] You know Thom, I'll tell you something. We did, you know, as Vermont's congressman I send out mailings to people, and occasionally, you know, we will send out questionnaires. You know, what do you think about social security, or the health care, or the economy, whatever it may be. And we listed a bunch of issues. And you know what issue came back most, at the very top of the list in terms of people's concerns? It was precisely the issue of sustainable energy.

[Thom Hartmann] Yeah.

[Bernie Sanders] And we have legislation. Jay Inslee of the State of Washington, in fact, has introduced some very good legislation based on what is called an Apollo project. [Press Release] Are you familiar with the Apollo project?

[Thom Hartmann] I am. Yes, it's marvelous.

[Bernie Sanders] It is, it's bringing together environmental groups, trade unions, all kinds of organizations who will say, 'look, this is a win-win-win situation: save the environment, create good paying jobs, let's go for it. You know, the problem that we have, obviously, in the congress right now is that you have folks like Senator Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma who is the head, this is the chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, and he believes, and I quote, that the issue of global warming is, quote, "the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people". End of quote. Now that should reassure us all, that you have the chairman of the environmental committee in the Senate who thinks that global warming is a hoax. Well, that may tell us, you know, why we are where we are today and, by the way, why people should understand that when you change leadership and party control of the House or the Senate, you are getting rid of all of these guys in leadership positions. It matters who is

[Thom Hartmann] Well, and it's not just Inhofe. Well, here's ten seconds of Rush Limbaugh on this. [clip:] "I think the modern environmental movement is simply the latest refuge for communists and socialists who are opposed to capitalism".

[Bernie Sanders] Well, clearly a progressive thoughtful voice addressing the major environmental and economic crises facing the United States of America. I mean that's just unbelievable. And meanwhile, while we have Inhofe giving courses, you know, brilliant thoughts, what we are seeing is that countries like Denmark, Germany and Japan have made significant progress beyond the United States of America in gaining economically from renewable energy technologies. You will recall that the United States, we developed solar photovoltaic panels and now non-American companies are producing about 90% of them. Japanese are moving forward in solar technology also, you know.

[Thom Hartmann] Did I tell you, pardon my interrupting, Bernie. Did I tell you the story of my trip to Germany and the solar thing?

[Bernie Sanders] Tell me it again.

[Thom Hartmann] It's quick, and it's worth, I used to live in Germany. I go back there at least once a year, and have for 25 years and I was there in November. And taking the train, it's a 5 hour train ride east to west to this little town Stadtsteinach where I used to live, and looking north at the south side of houses, I saw, for the fist time, I hadn't seen a year before, about every third house had their roof covered with solar panels. I get to Stadtsteinach and my friend Samuel Müller, whom I'm staying with, he's got this huge solar array on his house. And I'm like, 'Samuel, what's the deal here?' Well, what they did was, the government passed a law that says that the bank has to, they're guaranteed by the government, of course, but they have to offer a mortgage, a ten year mortgage, on installation of solar power. And if you put solar panels on your house, the power company has to buy the electricity back at 8 times market rate. Now, 8 times market rate is about what it would cost if the power company was going to build a new nuclear reactor or a new coal-fired reactor. In other words, this is the investment part of building a new plant. So they're investing in power infrastructure and at the end of 10 years the power company then has to buy it back at one time, in other words, at parity. But for the 10, and so Samuel is making about $100 a month in profit on the electricity that he's selling to the power company after he's paid the mortgage. So at the end of 10 years he's going to completely own this, the solar system, it's enough to power his house and provide power to the community, and it was all done by this kind of public private partnership. In other words, no government dollars are being involved in this thing and there's just this explosion of solar power all across Germany and they don't have to build more power plants because every home has become a power plant.

[Bernie Sanders] Well, I mean that's the kind of thinking and innovation that we are sorely lacking in many respects in our country. I mean, what is very frustrating about this issue, both from an environmental perspective and an economical perspective, is, it's all sitting there. And this is not, you know, 30 or 40 years ago, people were dreaming, right? Coming up with great ideas. Well, we have the technology. The technology can be greatly improved, no question. But it's there, right now, ready to go, and we are not doing it. The idea, I mean just one example of a hundred. The idea that we are driving vehicles, in the United States of America, today, that get worse mileage per gallon than was the case 20 years ago, how can anybody justify that?

[Thom Hartmann] Yeah, and yet GM is selling Opels in Europe that get 50, 60 miles to the gallon.

[Bernie Sanders] Exactly. Exactly. So, it's sitting there waiting to happen, not to mention the hybrid technology, not to mention hydrogen, cars fuelled by hydrogen fuel cells. We have a car that's going to be running around Vermont which is not a hydrogen fuel cell car but it will be a Toyota Prius without a gas tank and with compressed hydrogen going in. But there's all kinds of technologies out there that we can make major breakthroughs on.

[Thom Hartmann] Yeah. This is such an opportunity, and it just boggles my mind that these guys want to stop it.

[Bernie Sanders] Right, and then you have geniuses like Mr. Inhofe making his profound statements. On and on it goes. And the president is not much better. The administration has been one of the most recalcitrant organizations, institutions in the world in terms of appreciating and understanding what climate change is about.

[Thom Hartmann] Yeah, and Cheney and his energy policy?

[Bernie Sanders] Right.

[Thom Hartmann] And his energy meetings? He goes to the Supreme Court to keep the members of his energy secret cause they're organizing a giveaway of the oil, I mean, it's absolutely incredible. We're talking with Congressman Bernie Sanders ...

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