Opportunity Knocked — Republicans Shut the Door, but Now Protest

This morning the Center for American Progress Action Fund (CAPAF) released a brief report surveying Republican voting records on renewable energy (see data here).

This comes the day following Grist’s celebration of Thomas Friedman’s op-ed in the NYT finally calling out a glaring hypocrisy as we head into an intense season of presidential campaigning.

As we covered months ago, the renewal of th erenewable energy production and investment tax credits are vital to the industrym which have created jobs, generated growth in new sectors, and provided clean energy. The credits were a singular opportunity (inserted in several pieces of legislation) for Congress to act on tangible, near-term, and meaningful energy policy – but as CAPAF found, partisanship stood in the way.

The blogosphere has reacted strongly this week. It’s important for people to understand that this is a non-partisan crisis whose potential solutions are being blocked by Republicans who then spin the blame on Democrats.

New study finds House Republicans participating in energy protests consistently voted against energy independence
Click here to see the full chart

WASHINGTON, DC — Numerous House Republicans participating in the energy protests voted against every attempt to increase clean alternative energy sources during this Congress, according to a new analysis by the Center for American Progress Action Fund. Their consistent opposition to wind, solar, geothermal, and other clean energy sources contrasts with their participation in the House Republicans’ protests in favor of offshore oil drilling in protected areas. These protests in the closed House chamber began on August 1, and House Republican Leaders announced that they will continue through August 22.

“These House Republicans win the gold medal for wasted energy due to the hours they spent agitating for big oil’s ocean drilling agenda while opposing real clean energy solutions,” said Daniel J. Weiss of the Center for American Progress Action Fund. “Meanwhile, American families suffer from record gasoline and energy prices.”

“Conservatives in Congress opposed relatively simple, inexpensive new sources of energy while thirsting after America’s beaches and coasts. Wind farms can be built and produce energy in two years. Meanwhile, the Department of Energy determined that drilling in protected areas of the Outer Continental Shelf would not have a ‘significant impact on domestic crude oil and natural gas production or prices before 2030.’ ”

The CAPAF analysis examined the protesting representatives’ votes on six different bills or amendments in the 110th Congress that would support clean energy alternatives.

  • Three votes on closure of some tax breaks for big oil companies. The money would be invested in wind, solar, and geothermal energy, and in efficiency.
  • Two votes to extend existing tax incentives for renewables and efficiency beyond their expiration at the end of 2008. These provisions also included new incentives for the purchase of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles.
  • One vote to establish a renewable electricity standard that would require utilities to use wind, solar, and other renewables to supply 15 percent of their electricity by 2020.
  • The average participant in the protests to urge drilling in protected coastal areas voted against clean renewable energy 95 percent of the time.

    The United States has massive potential for wind, solar, and geothermal energy. The Department of Energy determined that wind energy has the potential to provide 20 percent of all U.S. electricity needs by 2030. Scientists found that the solar energy hitting an area of 100 square miles in the Southwest is enough to supply the entire United States with all its electricity needs via 10 percent efficient photovoltaic cells. Domestic resources of geothermal energy have the capacity to fully meet energy demands for thousands of years.

    According to a study by the House Natural Resources Committee, big oil companies already have access to nearly 80 percent of all offshore oil and gas in the lower 48 states. These companies hold leases for 44 million acres offshore, but are only producing oil or gas from 10 million of these acres. Before opening the protected coastal areas from Malibu to Miami to Maine, oil companies should develop existing leases.

    “Renowned oil man T. Boone Pickens is promoting wind power as a clean alternative to oil,” continued Weiss. “He has said ‘This is one emergency we can’t drill our way out of. But if we create a new renewable energy network, we can break our addiction to foreign oil.'”

    “Yet conservatives continue their devotion to big oil’s demands for more of our coastal waters while opposing common-sense clean energy solutions that can quickly provide energy.”

    – Kari M.

    3 Responses to Opportunity Knocked — Republicans Shut the Door, but Now Protest

    1. coby says:

      Just an FYI to the blogmeister, A Few Things Illconsidered is now at science blogs: and the How to talk to a sceptic is there now too:

      (still at Gristmill as well)

      An update to your blogroll would be terrific!

      Thanks, Coby

    2. Bill Reiswig says:


      On the topic of Republican (John McCain) differences with democrats on addressing climate change… NPR’s All Things Considered ran a piece yesterday that basically said there is none or a hairs difference between McCain and Obama on the issue.

      One huge difference between the two: The constituency that will vote for McCain has global warming way too low on their priority list…. this has to (in my mind) effect how he behaves.

      Not to mention that McCain is 0/12 on supporting the tax credits….

    3. Mark Shapiro says:

      An editorial quibble:
      ” area of 100 square miles ” should be a 100 by 100 mile square.

      That’s 10,000 square miles. Much more, but still doable. The area goes down as PV (or CSP) efficiency goes up, and goes down even faster as end-use efficiency goes up.