This is a rush transcript from "America's Election HQ," August 20, 2008. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
E.D. HILL, HOST: You know, it is crazy how much we pay for AC and heating now. But could New York City mayor and business billionaire Mike Bloomberg's plan work for the nation? He's got an idea that could change the landscape both economically and physically. More on that when we come back.
HILL: You know, I remember the first time I came to New York City from Waco, Texas. I looked up, and these buildings were so tall, and guess what? They could be about to get even taller as part of an ambitious new push for renewable energy. The city's mayor, Michael Bloomberg, is proposing putting windmills on city bridges and rooftops. Take a look at that shot. That's what it could look like. Bloomberg outlined his plan at a Las Vegas energy conference.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHAEL BLOOMBERG, NEW YORK CITY MAYOR: I think we should listen to everybody and maybe somebody will come up with an idea that I never thought of. And you know, whether it's windmills on the top of buildings or anything else, we can't continue to do business the old way.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HILL: Well, what does my next guest think of the idea? Dale Jamieson is the director of environmental studies at NYU is with us in the studio. Thanks for being here.
DALE JAMIESON, DIRECTOR OF ENVIRONMENTAL STUDIES, NEW YORK UNIVERSITY: Thank you.
HILL: You know, I am all for getting off oil if we can just because it costs a lot and I hate being dependent on anybody but us. But how feasible is something like this in a city, say, such as New York?
JAMIESON: Well, wind energy, in general, is feasible. And what Mayor Bloomberg has done more than anything else is to just throw open the conversation about how are we going to expand the use of wind energy, which we can do and must do. Yes, we'll get some funny things out of this meeting, maybe not, but the point is we've got to move.
HILL: You know, but it bugs me because we have all these study groups in Washington, studying the feasibility of this and the cost of that. There are people all over the country that go out and just do it. They do it and it works. We know wind is there. We know sun is there. Why aren't we using it now? What's blocking it?
JAMIESON: Yes. It's happening but we've got some perverse incentives. That's part of the problem. The people - for example, 80 percent of our electricity comes from coal generation. Coal produces greenhouse gasses. We don't pay for that. Coal produces mercury. We don't pay for that, and so on and so on.
HILL: But are there groups that are blocking this, or do you think that, hey, those windmills don't (UNINTELLIGIBLE) them in my backyard. Because I recall what happened off Cape Cod when, you know, there's a lot of wind out there and when they wanted to put the windmills and the turbines up there, I believe it was Sen. Kennedy who stepped in and said, "No, not here."
JAMIESON: Change is hard. We always want others to change but changing something for our own selves is difficult.
HILL: Are you sensing that there is a change thought among the American people that we're more willing to open up to the idea of in my backyard?
JAMIESON: Change is inevitable. When gasoline crosses $4 a gallon, when you start seeing energy bills like we have, things are changing. The question is, are they going to change in a positive way or are they going to change in a stupid way?
HILL: Now, I've talked to some folks who say, yes, it is windy some days and then it's still others. And it's sunny some days and it's not other days. Or you live in an area where it's rarely sunny. Can you store it effectively enough that you could get by using, you know, energy that does not really impact us?
JAMIESON: Well, there are two ways to try to use wind. One thing that you can do, for example, is happening in the World Trade Center being built in Bahrain, a country famous for its fossil fuel that's now investing in wind energy, and that is to try to generate the energy that the building uses. OK. That's going to be a problem with inconstancy when the wind stops blowing.
The other thing that you can do is dump that energy into a grid. And that's what's going to happen with offshore wind farms, for example, that are happening now all over Europe.
HILL: How long do you think before somebody really makes this completely viable and says here, here is a significant town or city and we have done it?
JAMIESON: Go to the Netherlands. Go to Germany. You will see it becoming viable.
HILL: So we've just got to do it here.
All right. Dale Jamieson, thank you very much.
JAMIESON: Thank you.
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