Year 3, Month 5, Day 16: While You’re In The Neighborhood

The New York Times makes half the case:

The federal government has given generously to the clean energy industry over the last few years, funneling billions of dollars in grants, loans and tax breaks to renewable power sources like wind and solar, biofuels and electric vehicles. “Clean tech” has been good in return.

During the recession, it was one of the few sectors to add jobs. Costs of wind turbines and solar cells have fallen over the last five years, electricity from renewables has more than doubled, construction is under way on the country’s first new nuclear power plant in decades. And the United States remains an important player in the global clean energy market.

Yet this productive relationship is in peril, mainly because federal funding is about to drop off a cliff and the Republican wrecking crew in the House remains generally hostile to programs that threaten the hegemony of the oil and gas interests. The clean energy incentives provided by President Obama’s 2009 stimulus bill are coming to an end, while other longer-standing subsidies are expiring.

Fun with analogies. Sent May 6:

America’s energy economy bears a remarkable resemblance to a heart patient who’s beginning to recognize that a pulmonary condition requires old habits to be abandoned and new ones taken up. On the one hand, no more cigarettes and cheeseburgers; on the other, lots of exercise and plenty of vegetables. Any part of this program can be beneficial, but for a robust recovery, both are essential.

As in our own bodies, so too in our nation’s consumption of energy. Since it’s essential for our long-term survival that we shift rapidly toward renewable sources (exercise and vegetables, if you will), expanding government subsidies to clean energy is an essential part of a systemic return to health. But the fact is inescapable: if we are to end our dependence on oil and coal (cigarettes and cheeseburgers), it’s time for our taxpayer dollars to stop subsidizing the fossil fuel industry.

Warren Senders

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