Finding Common Ground
As part of a panel on climate change and energy efficiency policy at the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) 2014 Summer Study, Janine Migden-Ostrander encouraged environmental and consumer advocates to work together to address concerns when striving to meet what may feel like very different energy policy goals. Consumer advocates recognize that short-term rate increases—even those with long-term benefits—will impact those living under or near poverty level, often leading to disconnections. In contrast, an environmental advocate may find that short-term rate increases pale in comparison to the cost of adaptation needs and damage mitigation resulting from carbon-intensive energy sources. Ms. Migden-Ostrander presented the Finding Common Ground project, which brought together state, regional, and national consumer and environmental advocates to build understanding and respect by exchanging information and seeking collaborative solutions. The project, spearheaded by RAP, the Sierra Club, and the National Consumer Law Center, featured a series of meetings and working groups to tackle topics such as energy efficiency, energy codes, weatherization, and appliance standards. Strong relationships and understanding among consumer and environmental advocates not only enable swift, collaborative action, they can also minimize the ability of other stakeholders to drive a wedge between consumer and environmental interests.