Last week I highlighted another point of view regarding renewable energy subsidies. In an article for Bloomberg news, Nathan Myhrvold, the former chief strategist and chief technology officer at Microsoft, argued that lack of financial support is not what has stymied the renewable industry, but the energy subsidies themselves. Now two big renewable energy advocates have laid out the case for increased government support in the face of rising international competition.
In an opinion piece for the Washington Post, former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger writes, “it is absurd that our federal government spends tens of billions of dollars annually subsidizing the oil industry, which pulls diminishing resources from underground, while the industry focused above ground on wind, solar, and other renewable energies is derided in Washington.”
Schwarzenegger goes on to say though the oil industry should not be “demonized,” the truth is that while energy innovation has “always helped drive America’s growth,” in the end, “federal support for development of new energy sources is lower today than at any other point in US history, and our government is forcing the clean-energy sector into a competitive disadvantage.”
While Schwarzenegger was a strong advocate for renewable—particularly solar—energy investment during his time as governor of California, strong words in favor of government subsidies are surprising given his political affiliations. In fact, Schwarzenegger argues that this issue must become a talking point during the current election cycle: “In this presidential primary, Americans need to hear where the candidates stand on this critical issue.
“If our goal is to encourage competition in the energy marketplace, then the conversation in Congress shouldn’t be about attacking green energy or cutting all oil subsidies,” he continues. “The conversation should be about leveling the playing field so that renewables are bound by the same rules as fossil fuels. We must make it a national priority to clear the red tape and bureaucracy that puts renewables at a disadvantage. If the candidates running for president believe in energy independence as a matter of national security—regardless of whether they agree with the science behind climate change—then the issue of investing in renewable energies must be front and center in the campaign.”
Schwarzenegger adds that focusing on the failure of Solyndra is counterproductive. “Instead of talking about one terrible green investment, or, for that matter, any of the investments in fossil fuels that have cost billions, I’d like to hear them talk about how to make sure we properly vet all our investments to get a good return for the American people.
“To bring true competition to the energy market, ensure our national security, and create jobs here rather than in China or elsewhere,” he says, “ we must level the playing field for renewable energies.”
One unlikely advocate of Schwarzenegger’s call to action is US Energy Secretary Steven Chu, who took a stand during his delivery of the 2011 Bloch Lecture, entitled “The Role of Science, Technology, and Innovation in Solving the Energy Challenge”, stating: “Invented in America, but made in China is not good enough. Invented in America, made in America has to be the way to go.”
Chu also went after the Solyndra naysayers, arguing that while the California-based solar panel maker has dominated the headlines, Chinese solar panel makers have also been hit hard by the global economic crisis. The difference: the Chinese government has been willing to pony up the cash to keep their renewable industry afloat. As such, Chu warned that if the emerging clean-tech industry is not encouraged to grow in the US, the economic benefits of that industry—and its renewable energy innovations—will be reaped elsewhere.
So what do you think? Do you agree with Schwarzenegger that, “We need a level field on which the United States allows renewable energies to develop by the same rules as oil?” What about Chu’s argument that the US will continue to be “Henry Ford-ed” by countries willing to bank on our innovations by subsidizing domestic adoption of our technological advances? And is the message finally getting across that in the battle for energy resource funding, renewable energy and fossil fuels have yet to meet on an equal playing field?
Upcoming Forester University Webinars:
December 13th, 2011
Stormwater Inspection and Maintenance
Don’t get caught in the storm. Join Andrew J. Erickson, M.S., P.E., for Stormwater Inspection & Maintenance on Dec. 13th, a discussion of standardized stormwater inspection methods and performance assessment. Learn how to use these to assess, select, and schedule effective and financially sustainable maintenance on stormwater treatment practices (e.g., stormwater ponds, bioretention facilities, infiltration basins, swales, and filter strips).
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 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.