EP 69. Here Comes the Sun - Daniel Weeks, Revision Energy and the Fight for a Livable World.
My conversation with Dan Weeks was a refreshingly optimistic moment in these troubling times. He’s no Pollyanna about the challenges that we face but he definitely sees the magnificent and expansive view from the summit, even as he recognizes the mountains still to climb.
A 12th-generation Granite Stater, Dan Weeks is well steeped in New Hampshire history but he is also a citizen of the world. Dan left New Hampshire after high school to serve with AmeriCorps and attend Yale and Oxford on scholarships. He lived and worked on four continents before returning to NH with his South African wife Dr. Sindiso Mnisi Weeks, a human rights lawyer and academic. Dan and Sindiso are the proud parents of three young children.
Today Dan is a director at ReVision Energy, an employee-owned solar company in Brentwood. and lives in Nashua with his wife and kids.
Dan is an outspoken clean energy advocate and entrepreneur on a mission to transition New England and the world from fossil fuels to renewable energy. As Vice President of Business Development at ReVision Energy, Dan leads commercial sales, project finance, and development for the region's largest clean energy company while promoting climate action at the state and federal level. He has been named one of New Hampshire's “Most Influential Business Leaders” by NH Business Review, “Young Professional of the Year” by Stay Work Play New Hampshire, and "Forty Under 40" by the New Hampshire Union Leader.
|Wind on the Floodplain Forest Floor|
Prior to ReVision Energy, Dan was Executive Director of Open Democracy, where he continues to serve on the Advisory Board, and president of Americans for Campaign Reform (now Issue One). In 2012-13, he traveled the United States by Greyhound Bus on a poverty-line budget of $16/day researching poverty and political exclusion on a fellowship from Harvard. He is the author of "Democracy in Poverty: A View From Below" and has written for The Atlantic, New York Times, Boston Globe, Christian Science Monitor, and other outlets. He continues to write and speak on public affairs and serve on numerous nonprofit boards.
A CALL TO CONSERVATIVES
By Dan Weeks
Posted Sep 20, 2019 at 6:06 PM
When my family first joined the Republican Party in the 1800s, they were conservatives in the original sense of the term. As farmers and businessmen, soldiers and public servants, my forebears were intent on conserving New Hampshire’s most precious assets, from our land and water to our self-reliant way of life.
The first John Weeks was elected to Congress in 1828 as a member of the original Republican Party, defined by its Jeffersonian embrace of rural life and against a centralizing aristocracy and corporate corruption. He is best known for leading an 1820 expedition into the White Mountains, which resulted in the naming of New Hampshire’s highest peaks. He died in the shadow of that Presidential Range at the same time a young Illinois Congressman named Abraham Lincoln was helping found the second Republican Party.
Decades later, another Republican John Weeks of Coos County would make his name in Congress as author of the Weeks Act of 1911, establishing the Eastern National Forest as a landmark in land and water conservation. In a letter to his son (my great-granddad) Sinclair Weeks, who would follow in his footsteps as a senator and secretary of commerce under President Eisenhower, John summarized his notion of principled, pragmatic leadership: “A man is a leader, legislatively, when he knows more than those who are serving with him. He does not need to be an orator, have wealth or any other qualifications than to have the facts.”
Although their time has passed, the time for such a brand of fact-based conservatism in Congress and Concord has not. Indeed, all I know of these three men and the conservative tradition out of which they came leads me to believe they would follow the science and act with urgency to conserve our common home for future generations, were they faced with today’s climate crisis.
Against this backdrop, I have been saddened to see New Hampshire’s Republican governor question climate science and pressure his fellow “conservatives” in the N.H. House and Senate to sustain a slew of vetoes denying climate action this week.
When asked about climate change in a 2016 gubernatorial debate, Gov. Chris Sununu stated simply, “No, I don’t believe in it.” To back up his position, Sununu provided the following perplexing logic from his position as then-CEO of a family-owned ski resort: “I don’t believe in [climate change] because I know we might have had an awful mild winter this year, and we saved an awful lot of money in our snow budget but I can tell you that next year, we may not be as lucky.”
Even more perplexing are Gov. Sununu’s oft-repeated assertions that “I’m an environmental engineer” and “you’ve never had a governor with the experience that I bring to the table...when it comes to understanding the environment and climate change.” A NHPR investigation subsequently found that Sununu was never licensed as a professional engineer, never sat for the exam, and more than a decade has passed since he worked in the field of civil or environmental engineering – small comfort for a citizenry that overwhelmingly accepts the scientific consensus on global warming.
But denying scientific fact and exaggerating your own credentials are one thing; blocking the will of the people when it comes to conserving New Hampshire’s natural environment and way of life is something else.
Which brings me to HB 365, the bipartisan bill to raise the net metering cap for homegrown renewable energy projects and cut climate-warming carbon emissions, which was vetoed by Gov. Sununu and narrowly failed an override vote this week.
In the ordinary course of events, this bill would be anything but controversial. It passed the New Hampshire House with over 70% support for the second year in a row (including dozens of Republican backers) and won a unanimous voice vote in the Senate. It is a top priority for environmental advocates and the clean energy industry, which employs thousands of Granite Staters and brings billions in local investment to increase our self-reliance and energy independence.
Beyond the usual suspects, the policy is backed by many of the state’s leading businesses seeking to offset their high electricity rates with homegrown renewable energy, who gathered at the Statehouse this summer in advance of the governor’s veto. Dozens of New Hampshire cities and towns have also called on Concord to raise the arbitrary cap so they can turn old landfills into solar farms while saving taxpayer money and combating climate damage.
Most importantly, surveys find that fully 85% of registered voters nationwide – including seven in 10 Republicans – support far more aggressive climate action than a 5 MW net metering cap: requiring utilities in state to produce 100% of their electricity from renewables by 2050 rather than the measly 0.7% currently sought from solar.
Yet in spite of this overwhelming public and legislator support, HB 365 died this week after numerous Republican representatives switched their votes under pressure from Gov. Sununu. According to multiple reports, Sununu told a closed-door caucus of Republican lawmakers that sustaining his veto wasn’t about the issue or the people of New Hampshire – it was about him. He even went so far as to attack New Hampshire’s fledgling solar industry as “crony capitalism at its worst.” Did he forget the tens of thousands of dollars he has raised from fossil fuel companies and utilities? Or does he remember them all too well?
The time has come for a return to the old tradition of fact-based conservatism and a Grand Old Party that places conservation at its core. After all, what could be more conservative than preserving this one and only planet we call home by stemming the climate crisis before it is too late?
Dan Weeks is a director at ReVision Energy, an employee-owned solar company in Brentwood. He lives in Nashua with his wife and kids.
|Washday Impressions in Ossipee|
Democracy in Poverty: A View From Below Kindle Edition
by Daniel Weeks (Author) Format: Kindle Edition
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What is the connection between poverty and politics today? Does money determine a person's political voice? Is poverty a democracy problem? To tackle these thorny questions, political reformer Daniel Weeks traveled 10,000 miles through 30 states by Greyhound bus, speaking with hundreds of fellow citizens in poverty and recording his experiences on a poverty-line budget of $16 a day. From benches on Capitol Hill to the Lower Ninth Ward of New Orleans, from the desert colonias of New Mexico to Skid Row in L.A., his profiles and careful analysis put a human face on poverty and political inequality in the 21st century. Building on the 2014 "Poor (in) Democracy" series for The Atlantic, this book explores the complex relationship between institutional poverty and political power, including how economic inequalities enter the political sphere and undermine political equality; how political arrangements deepen and entrench poverty; and what it means in real life to be poor and (seek to) participate in politics.
The stories Weeks recounts from "second-class citizens" across the United States challenge our cherished assumptions about the American dream. Consumed by the daily demands of subsistence and excluded from political participation by both formal and informal means, the people profiled are struggling to make their voices heard where it matters most: in politics. Their poverty is a problem – a moral outrage, in fact – but it's not the kind of problem we think. More than an economic or social concern, their poverty is political: it is embedded in the very structures of society and maintained by an unjust distribution of political power. To counteract systemic poverty and political inequality, Weeks proposes a slate of reforms aimed at strengthening American democracy, so that all citizens can make their voices heard.
To learn more, visit http://www.PoorInDemocracy.org
More about the author at http://ethics.harvard.edu/people/daniel-weeks
<a target="_blank" href="https://www.amazon.com/Democracy-Poverty-Below-Daniel-Weeks-ebook/dp/B00ZDT65X4/ref=sr_1_1?crid=3U01YT1P63K9R&keywords=Poverty+Daniel+Weeks&qid=1656367203&sprefix=poverty+daniel+weeks%252Caps%252C118&sr=8-1&_encoding=UTF8&tag=waynedking0f-20&linkCode=ur2&linkId=ca8124516c86fdc7404e016fc3c27a14&camp=1789&creative=9325">Democracy in Poverty</a>
|The Winter Warrior|