Are You Ready for Some Football?
Well, the election is over and the Republicans have taken control of the Senate and grew their majority in the House. Depending on your political leanings, this is either really great or really bad. It will be an interesting two years until the next Presidential election cycle. President Obama certain maintains a veto pen and there isn’t a veto-proof majority in Congress to move an opposing agenda through. Certainly there is a perceived disillusionment of how well the government has functioned so far on many issues and the voters showed that resoundingly. The question will be whether or not we will still see obstructionist political action that panders to big donors and political bases on both sides or will we see, as has happened before in this scenario, a move towards real compromise. There is one facet however that hopefully Senator Mitch McConnell, House Speaker John Boehner, and the rest of Congress will recognize, people went to the voting booth and rewarded many of those who have led on climate and sustainability issues – Republican and Democrat.
A recent Bloomberg News poll found that 62 percent of Americans are willing to pay more for energy if it meant reducing our carbon footprint. This same majority recognize that protecting our air and water is paramount to preventing catastrophe and natural disasters which rack up billions in economic damage to many regions of the country (drought/fires in the west, tornadoes in the midwest, hurricanes on the east coast, etc.) and continue to increase in frequency and severity. Corporations are seeing and reaping the social and financial benefits of reducing operating costs while lowering their carbon footprint through sustainability initiatives and the implementation of lean and green design and technology. Consumers are spending significant dollars on energy saving technologies for both social and economic reasons and corporations are paying attention.
Depending on the legislative actions of the new majority, this can and will have significant impact on how the ICT industry does business. The current energy legislation (Shaheen-Portman energy efficiency bill) could finally get out of gridlock and allow the new majority the opportunity to push non-energy related legislation which could negatively impact federal funding for green technology. Hopefully the Republicans won’t make the same mistake as Newt Gingrich when he slashed the energy efficiency standards and gutted the EPA causing a major backlash from voters and helping them to lose the majority. President Obama still has the ability to make executive action decisions regarding policy but that could trigger a political backlash from Congress even from within his own party. So at this point it really is anyone’s game.
Additionally, a major sweep in governorships across the country in favor of Republicans will also have potential impacts for the ICT industry related to sustainability. Although policy is set by the EPA under the Clean Power Plan, states are given wide latitude to design plans to meet those targets. Newly elected Governors with authority over state environmental departments will play the pivotal role in deciding to accommodate a rule, not create a state implementation plan, or oppose it in the courts. Based on each state’s decision, changes in how energy systems are design, implemented, and operated are bound to happen. Control of these systems falls into the ICT world as network technologies and bandwidth are also affected along with energy policy.
The thing to watch will be how the private sector reacts to the political football. What is needed is clarity and what may happen is the private sector sending both parties to their respective corners and moving things forward on their own. This would potentially cause problems in the next election cycle which will have a significantly higher turnout rate at the polls. Politicians who are smart will pay attention to this lest the be told to move on in two years. What I find most interesting is how Big Money from Big Energy played a major role in this mid-term election, yet it will most likely be the consumer who has the biggest say with how they choose to spend their ever shrinking dollars. For example, if a small business or homeowner can save money on energy bills through smart technology implementation, they will do it and feel even better about it if it is good for the longevity of this planet. The statistics have played this out and shown that Americans want this even of their politicians can’t stomach it politically.
Some of the best examples of how politics and people can work together for a successful economic and environmental future are found in Europe in Sweden and Germany where people have demanded it and politicians from all parties have listened and formed sound policies to leverage technology to drive down energy consumption, lower emissions, and increase the standard of living.
January is fast approaching. Let’s see how the game plays out. My money is on the consumer-voter. Is yours?