Issa: Advancing “so-called clean energy” is “not good” for America
Despite all the strong evidence proving the business case for implementing clean energy technologies, reducing energy use and building other solutions to climate change, some policy makers are still stuck in the past. Here’s an excerpt from a report released today by Darrell Issa, the Republican Chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, on the Obama Administration’s approach to energy:
It is pursuing a broad array of measures to block carbon-based energy extraction, to tax, and to otherwise increase the costs of its use, and to subsidize wherever possible the development and use of so-called “clean energy.” The economic and geopolitical implications of such a policy, if it is successful, are not good for the United States. It will make the United States poorer and more susceptible to the pressures of countries that now control a large share of the world’s oil””countries, which for the most part, do not share America’s goals or ideals.
This backward-thinking approach to energy issues has America, well, moving backward – allowing the U.S. to fall behind in creating a new, vibrant industry.
It’s a common quip: The U.S. is great at inventing things, but even better at sending those inventions oversees to get developed by other countries. That is particularly true in clean energy and climate solutions.
Back in the early days of wind, the U.S. was a technology pioneer; but with lapsing support in the 80’s, the Danish and Germans took over, creating massive export industries. The same happened in solar photovoltaics and solar thermal, with Germany, Austria and China taking the lead in the production and installation of the technologies. There’s still plenty of inventing going on in labs around the U.S., but the chances that another country will step in and develop an industry around a new technology are pretty good.
Now, it appears the U.S. is falling behind in another category: Implementation of information and communications technologies (known as ICT) for carbon reduction applications. A new report out from the Global e-Sustainability Initiative shows that, despite having a robust IT culture, the U.S. isn’t even in the top ten global integrators of ICT in this sector. Here are the top countries:
This follows a report in March from the Pew Charitable Trusts showing that the U.S. fell to third in the global clean energy investment rankings, getting beat out by China and Germany. The problem, according to the report, is a continued lack of consistency in policy. In talking to Pew about the report, Tom Konrad of AltEnergyStocks.com put the problem succinctly:
Our dynamic Venture Capital helps incubate world-beating technology, which US companies would have the opportunity to commercialize, building new, world-beating industries if they had a reliable domestic market to sell into. As it is, the United States is simply the source of the great ideas behind the products that the rest of the world will be selling to us for decades to come.
As the presidential campaign begins, the Obama Administration is trying to counter arguments from Republicans who falsely blame renewables for rising energy prices.
Last week, U.S. Vice President Joe Biden was at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory touting American innovation in energy. He was there for two reasons: to award the solar thin-film company e-Chromic an award for winning “America’s Next Top Energy Innovator Challenge,” and for kicking up the message that the Obama Administration’s energy policy is pro-business and pro-jobs.
Here’s Biden’s statement as reported by the Colorado Independent:
“You hear people saying government is anti-business. They say that [government investment] is socialism,” Biden said, speaking softly, as though intimately, and with an air of incredulousness. “That’s bizarre. It’s the most pro-business thing we can do.”
“We have the best engineers, physicians, human capital,” Biden said. “This isn’t chauvinism. I want China to succeed, but our economy is three times the size of China’s economy. People say China has already eaten our lunch. I say to them, look at what we’ve accomplished”¦. The American spirit has risen to challenges time and time again. It’s not even close.”
Well, actually, study after study shows we’re getting beat now. And if the conversation around “so-called clean energy” – as Darrell Issa so strangely put it – continues to stay the way it is, that gap will continue to widen.
– Stephen Lacey