Continuing our coverage of the scuffle between renewable energy funding supporters and detractors, two new opinion pieces appeared this week that take the conversation a step further by addressing the connection between federally funded power generation, economic recovery, and job creation. As we head full force into a new presidential election cycle, it’s not all that surprising that the rhetoric has started to heat up and that both sides are making sure their opinions and concerns are being heard.
First off is an opinion piece by Paul Driessen, senior policy advisory for the Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow, that appeared this week as a special report to the Washington Times. In his piece, Driessen argues that renewable energy subsidies do not promote green energy, but instead result in “greenbacks” energy that “requires perpetual infusions of taxpayer money, confiscated from hardworking, productive sectors and given to companies that have proper political connections.” In a twist, Driessen accuses green energy of participating in the types of cronyism, backroom deals, and unrelenting lobbying normally associated with the oil and gas industry. Driessen says that these green companies are guilty of engaging in “crony capitalism” and “lapping up $1.5 billion in government red-ink subsidies and loan guarantees.”
Not surprisingly, Driessen—a conservative commentator and former lobbyist who authored a book titled Eco-Imperialism: Green Power, Black Death—believes that the key to jumpstarting the US economy is to abandon renewable energy funding, environmental regulations, and GHG emissions.
“We need American resources for an American recovery,” concludes Driessen. “Slash the crippling regulations. Drill here in America. Produce affordable energy to create jobs and fix our economy. Do it now.”
Meanwhile, over at CleanTechnica.com, clean tech and renewable energy reporter Andrew Burger reports that according a recent study by Navignant Consulting, “The US wind energy industry can create and save 54,000 jobs, including expanding the wind energy manufacturing sector by 1/3 to 46,000 jobs. But these new and existing jobs will materialize only in an environment of stable federal tax policy that “includes extending the existing wind energy production tax credit (PCT) for another four years.”
Burger notes that because the US has a far-from-stable energy policy, the potential of a PTC expiration is “already having a negative effect on wind energy project planning and business development”, because “project developers are reluctant to undertake new projects if there’s uncertainty regarding the existence of the PTC.”
Terry R. Royer, CEO of Winergy Drive Systems Corporation, is quoted as saying, “With the uncertainty of the PTC extension, we are seeing the hesitation of our customers to make continued commitments for orders in late 2012 and 2013. An immediate extension is needed to support the investment we have made in our operations and secure the jobs that have been created.”
In response to a possible sunset of PTC, a coalition made of more than 370 participants—including the AWEA, the National Association of Manufacturers, the American Farm Bureau, the Edison Electric Institute, the Western Governors Association, and the United Steelworkers union—have come out in support of bipartisan legislation calling for a four-year extension of PTC. Entitled “The American Renewable Energy Production Tax Credit Extension Act” (HR3307), the bill would extend PTC for the production of wind, geothermal, hydropower, and renewable energy until 2016.
“American manufacturing jobs are coming back,” declared AWEA CEO Denise Bode in a statement released in conjunction with the introduction of HR 3307, “with tens of thousands of new jobs from wind power. But these jobs could vanish if Congress allows the Production Tax Credit to expire, in effect, enacting a targeted tax increase and sending our jobs to foreign countries. Congress must act now to keep this American manufacturing success story going.”
So what do you think? Are we spending too much on renewable energy technologies, and is government financial support crippling rather than empowering the clean tech industry? Is there any truth to the argument that environmental regulations are impeding economic recovery? Are the kinds of “jobs” that will be created by a deregulated energy landscape including clean up crews hired to descend upon the next environmental disaster? And when we talk about the costs of power generation—be it solar, wind, oil, or gas—are we really taking into account all of the impacts of those various energy sources on our society, including pollution, health risks, security, and a raft of other unforeseen consequences?
Upcoming Forester University Webinars:
January 12th, 2012
Planning & Executing an Effective Pavement Preservation Program
As roadway networks and commercial vehicle loading continue to increase and Municipality taxation power remains limited, the need to effectively maintain and improve our pavement infrastructure is paramount. Join David Hein, V.P. of Transportation for ARA, to explore the key concepts of an effective pavement preservation program, program implementation needs and guidelines, and common roadblocks to successful implementation.
January 26th, 2012
5 Steps to Creating a Successful Public Outreach Campaign
Change starts with people. Whether your focus is stormwater pollution, energy conservation, pavement restoration, or recycling, a successful public outreach campaign resonates with your target audience and leads to long-lasting behavior change. Join Erica Hooper of SGA to explore a proven 5-step approach to crafting a successful outreach campaign based on real-world examples of the good, the bad, and the ugly.
February 2nd, 2012
Advanced Stormwater Treatment: Dissolved Pollutants
How effective are your stormwater treatments in capturing dissolved loads? With an average of 45% of the phosphorus load and up to 50% of the metal load transported through treatment practices to receiving waters in dissolved form, advanced treatment is imperative. Join Andrew Erickson to explore cost-effective, field-tested methods to capture stormwater dissolved pollutants and optimize stormwater treatment performance. We’ll explore several field applications and data demonstrating significant improvements in dissolved pollutant fraction capture.
February 9th, 2012
Differentiating & Monitoring Groundwater Plumes
Threatened by various plumes of mobile contaminants, urban potable groundwater resources require groundwater professionals to not only determine the source of individual plumes, but apportion the contributions of multiple sources within a composite plume. Join William G. Soukup, P.G. of Cornerstone Environmental Group LLC to discuss the analytical and interpretive techniques for differentiating plumes and their sources, as well as tips to improve long-term plume monitoring and management.