Ex-GOP senator on tour to promote clean energy

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A retired U.S. senator from Virginia is touring the nation with the Pew Charitable Trust to promote a clean-energy policy he says will benefit the economy, environment and national security.

John W. Warner, a Republican who left the Senate on Jan. 3, 2009, after five terms, espouses an energy policy that runs counter to Republican action in Congress to reduce U.S. Environmental Protection Agency enforcement of the Clean Air Act, among other environmental regulations.

Mr. Warner, now serving as a senior policy adviser for the Pew Project on National Security, Energy, and Climate, expressed opposition to recent actions to undo the Clean Air Act and reduce EPA's regulatory powers. "The Environmental Protection Agency is exactly what is in the name -- to protect us from our own devices," he said.

Mr. Warner said the U.S. military has "a proud story to tell" about renewable and clean-energy technologies that are easier for troops to transport, cheaper and less risky to use during battle.

In one battle in Afghanistan, troops used solar panels rather than heavy batteries and diesel generators, which are explosive and must be resupplied. The solar panels provided power throughout the battle despite being riddled with grenade shrapnel.

"It's a great story. Pew had the foresight that this story needs to be told," Mr. Warner told an audience of 75 at the World Affairs Council this morning at Reed Smith in the Fairmont building Downtown.

Now, he said, the nation should follow the military's lead in adopting clean energy to increase jobs and reduce pollution and our reliance on foreign oil. "We need for the nation to move forward and adopt federal renewable energy standards," he said.

Mr. Warner and Vice Admiral Dennis V. McGinn, vice chairman of the CNA Military Advisory Board and president of the American Council on Renewable Energy, have visited 32 cities in 28 states to encourage adoption of clean energy standards.

Calling for reduction in all fossil fuels, the two said the transition to cleaner fuel sources locally should occur at a slower pace to avoid disruptions to industry and the economy.

But Adm. McGinn said climate change is creating droughts leading to famine and typhoons causing flooding in some nations, causing political instability that poses national security risks for the United States.

"Unfortunately it is a false choice of economic well-being or clean environment," he said. "We can have both and that's been proven in the last 30 years and it's something to celebrate."

David Templeton: dtempleton@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1578.


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