In scalding opening remarks during a House hearing Friday, ranking member Ed Markey (D-MA) blamed Republicans for dragging their feet on developing clean energy and providing unconditional support for fossil energies and nuclear.
“Renewable energy has been an invisible issue” for the Republican party over the last decade, he said during the Natural Resources Committee hearing on siting renewable energy projects on public lands
His remarks come after the House passed three different Republican-sponsored bills to increase domestic offshore drilling – the latest requiring the Obama Administration to speed up permitting of leases. The bill was part of a Republican strategy to increase domestic offshore oil production by more than 75% over the next 25 years.
Why is Markey so mad? Well, according to him, this isn’t exactly a new phenomenon. During the Bush Administration, over 40,000 permits where handed out to oil and gas facilities on public lands, he said. And during that time only 3 applications were given for wind and zero were given for solar. In 2010 alone, 3,800 MW of projects were approved on public lands – 13 times the number of projects completed during the 8-years President Bush was in office.
Republicans are consumed by an “oil-above-all approach” to energy policy, said Markey.
The remarks were made during a hearing about streamlining permitting for onshore and offshore renewable energy projects on federal lands. A pretty innocuous topic, until you consider the current political context.
As part of a budget proposal, Republicans are currently proposing to phase out the loan guarantee program for renewable energy, which has backed over $18 billion and helped developers raise over $28 billion for projects. In addition, other important incentives like the Treasury Grant Program and federal tax incentives are set to expire with no clear plan from Congress on how or when to extend them.
Meanwhile, the GOP continues to aggressively push for offshore drilling and support indefinite tax credits for the 5 largest oil companies. Not exactly a forward-looking policy agenda.
As Markey explained: “You don’t need a blowout preventer on a solar field.”
– Stephen Lacey