Martin O'Malley discusses green energy at the College

by Wally Joe Cook | 4/4/18 2:20am

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Former Maryland governor and 2016 Democratic presidential candidate Martin O'Malley spoke at Rockefeller Hall on April 2.

by Wally Joe Cook / The Dartmouth

Martin O’Malley, former Maryland governor and 2016 Democratic primary presidential candidate, discussed the future of renewable energy in America on April in the Rockefeller Hall.

The event, hosted by the Dartmouth College Democrats, also featured environmental studies professor Melody Burkins, Nicholas Warren GR’18 and Sustainability Leaders Network founder and director Edie Farwell ’83 as speakers.

In his speech, O’Malley discussed the potential for a shift to green energy in the U.S. and touched on American politics, highlighting that Americans are approaching a pivotal moment in energy production. O’Malley added that Americans who are “concerned believers” in climate change have reached a record high at 50 percent.

This ideological shift was accelerated by President Donald Trump’s presidency, under which America has been experiencing a “period of involution before a period of evolution,” according to O’Malley.

He added that in the 2016 presidential election, he was the first candidate to propose a complete shift to green energy by 2050.

O’Malley said that he believes green energy will be a top priority for the next president, whom he thinks will sign an executive order for a green energy initiative within his or her first few days in office.

In an interview with The Dartmouth following his talk, O’Malley spoke about the Democratic Party’s emphasis on the prioritization of green energy.

“Usually, once things make the Democratic platform, they don’t fall out until they become policy and reality,” O’Malley said. “You’ll probably see a lot of candidates competing as to which one has the best and most aggressive energy policy.”

Speaking to the feasibility of an ambitious green energy initiative in the lecture, O’Malley claimed that the U.S. has the necessary resources, citing the “$1.5 trillion in tax cuts” for corporations implemented by the Trump administration. He added that with only 12 percent of that $1.5 trillion, the federal government could have tripled spending on green energy research and development.

“Unlike tax cuts, these investments make 2.7 million jobs and [lead to] a better future,” O’Malley said. “Energy transition to 100 percent [green energy] is no longer a question of technical feasibility, [but rather political will].”

O’Malley also spoke to the current state of American politics and its effect on green energy initiatives.

“Our politics is badly bruised, but we have the ability to make it work again,” he said. “We are not going to win by saying this group or that group stole our greatness.”

O’Malley discussed the 2018 midterm elections.

“No presidency is permanent,” he said. “This is the opportunity for course correction — darkness makes a great canvas.”

Following the lecture, there was a question and answer period in which O’Malley said that bipartisan solutions to green energy issues can be found in job creation.

He said that while the transition to green energy jobs may seem daunting, career training could facilitate the process.

In his interview with The Dartmouth, O’Malley added that a major issue with a shift to green energy is how the employment changes are presented to voters.

Although the subject matter of the event was serious in tone, O’Malley still found opportunities to lighten the mood with jokes about Iowa and New Hampshire being his favorite states and his borrowing inspirational slides from Al Gore. The jokes that played best were self-deprecating, poking fun at his previous failure in the 2016 presidential race.

O’Malley also responded to a question in The Dartmouth’s interview about whether he was considering running for president again.

“I’m certainly keeping an open heart and an open mind,” O’Malley said. “Having done it once, I have a very clear idea of what it entails and what it takes.”

He added that his experience with the midterms would influence his final decision.

“Right now, what I’m putting my energy into is helping other people who are running in these midterms this year,” O’Malley said. “In the course of that, I’ll make a decision about whether or not the path is there for me to take another run at this. A big part of me would like to.”

Melanie Gomez ’21 said she attended the event because she was interested in O’Malley’s response to Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris climate agreement.

“Climate change is really a danger with the current state of the [Environmental Protection Agency], so I’m interested in the Democrats’ solution to solving this problem,” Luiza Odhiambo ’21 said.

College Democrats president Jennifer West ’20 said “The message students should take away is that the future of our climate is up to us,” West said. “Climate change is something that is going to be one of the most pressing issues of our lifetime and we need to be prepared for all of the challenges that we are going to face.”