Renewable Energy detractors Whiny and Ungrateful
In true partisan style, Representative Scott Rigell (R-VA) recently spoke out against President Obama’s call for an “all of the above” approach to energy policy in the United States. According to Congressman Rigell, the President claims to support any and all domestic energy development, while only supporting renewable energy production.
Perhaps (and by perhaps, I mean I hope so) Congressman Rigell is right. Maybe the President is outwardly touting the potential of natural gas while covertly plotting to launch a full-throttle renewable energy revolution as soon as he is securely grounded in his second term.
A girl can dream.
I fear that may not be the case. But even if it were, berating the President for his ”hypocrisy” in accommodating the renewable energy industry is a shameless case of the pot calling the kettle black. Looking at Rigell’s record he seems to be in favor of drilling anywhere and everywhere with energy independence as the reason. He is also in favor of the Keystone XL pipeline.
Doug Koplow, considered one of the nation’s leading experts on energy subsidies, estimates that the United States spent between $49 billion and $100 billion on energy subsidies in 2007 alone. He accounts for $41 billion in oil and gas subsidies, compared to $6 billion for renewables. That includes federal loan guarantees, tax exemptions, funds for research and development, and more.
Fossil fuels are considered “traditional” energy sources for a reason; they have been around for quite a while. They are well-established, profitable enterprises. Why do they still need taxpayers’ hard earned dollars?
They don’t. That is why a poll conducted for NBC and the Wall Street Journal showed that 75 percent of respondents favored eliminating tax credits for the oil and gas industries. And, a 2010 found that 84 percent were in favor of giving companies tax breaks to produce electricity from water, wind, and solar power.
Congressman Rigell is right about one thing; the tide is turning. U.S. Department of Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced recently that, after review, the environmental impact of offshore wind in the region would cause no significant environmental damage. This is a huge breakthrough that will eliminate yet another obstacle to the success of offshore wind.
Still, approval for wind development is currently a lengthy process. The CapeWind project in the Nantucket Sound stalled for nine years before being approved in 2010, and is now facing more obstacles. Fortunately, estimates suggest that the new push by the Obama Administration could shave two years off the process.
To put it in perspective, it took only 18 months for BP to be approved for more drilling in the Gulf of Mexico after an oil spill worse than that of Exxon Valdez destroyed the area. And that’s despite a bevy of new rules and regulations.
A majority of U.S. taxpayers are ready for a change of pace, yet fossil fuel advocates are angry at the Obama administration for, they say, underhandedly supporting that. It seems to me that Congresman Rigell and his compatriots owe the President a hearty thank you instead. But politics and party bickering being what it is, don’t hold your breath.
By Audrey Jaynes, a freelance writer, ghostwriter and blogger. She holds a B.A. in Urban Studies from Brown University and blogs at www.dontbeapolarbear.com