Tales from the Trail

Has U.S. “missed the boat” on long-range renewable energy planning?

February 19, 2010

OBAMA/There was President Barack Obama, working a friendly crowd in Henderson, Nevada, not far from Las Vegas. And then a sympathetic comment from a French businessman who wants to see U.S. regulation of climate-warming greenhouse emissions seemed to get the president all wound up.

After noting that the weather has been particularly wild lately — five feet of snow in Washington DC, rain at the Vancouver Olympics — Obama said the best way to “unleash” dynamism in the energy market is to set fuel efficiency standards, notably for cars.

“If you’ve got a fuel-efficiency standard in place that says your car needs to get 20 miles a gallon or 30 miles a gallon, suddenly all these engineers are thinking, well, how do we do that?  And all these companies start coming up with new technologies that make your cars more fuel-efficient.  Ultimately, you end up seeing jobs and businesses thriving in response to the regulation that’s been put there,” Obama told the town hall meeting.

Putting a price on carbon emissions could have the same effect by spurring innovation and ultimately creating jobs, he said.

The transition to cleaner renewable energy isn’t going to happen overnight, the president said.

“But what we should be doing is planning over the next 20, 30 years to move in that direction.  That’s what countries like China are doing.  That’s what countries like France are doing.  That’s what countries all across Europe are doing, and all across Asia are doing.  We don’t want to be left behind.  We’re the only ones who have kind of missed the boat.  So we’re still using 20th century technologies and everybody else is producing 21st century technologies.”

Strong language, but the crowd seemed to be with him. And he went on:

“Look what happened with the car.  We started getting our clock cleaned when consumers decided they wanted a cleaner car and suddenly everybody was buying their cars from Japan, or now South Korea.  And we want to make sure that that doesn’t happen when it comes to wind turbines, it doesn’t happen when it comes to solar energy, et cetera.

“So the ideas that are being talked about is how do we provide more incentive for clean energy companies … to operate profitably, and over time how do we start shifting away from less efficient ways of using energy?  That’s a pretty straightforward thing to do. There’s nothing radical about it.”

Straightforward or not, these kinds of measures to curb climate change have been having a tough slog in Congress, where a new bipartisan effort is just getting going. When it comes to renewable energy, where will the United States be in 20 or 30 years? And where will the rest of the world’s powerhouse economies be?

Photo credit: REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque (President Barack Obama at a town hall meeting in Henderson, Nevada, February 19, 2010)

Comments
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This was an American, former Frenchman, who has a company here in the US and is very happy about the subsidies he gets (who wouldn’t be?). And Obama didn’t get “all wound up”. He used the friendly question to launch a moronic speech about renewable energy, and he gave a lame defense of man-made global warming.
Obama knows NOTHING about “unleashing dynamism” in the energy-production sector. And the Democrats have stopped aggressive drllling for 30 years. That’s where we’ve gotten killed. If the Democrats want us to move towards the quasi-socialist states like Norway (which they DO want), then we are freaking economic toast if we can’t drill and mine the daylights out of our vast natural resources the way Norway does. We can’t have it both ways. Ergo, the Democrats are killing us. We MUST start shrinking the cost of fed and state govt. We are in BIG trouble, and Obama fiddling while Rome burns is NOT acceptable. Thus, the Tea Parties!

Posted by sbourg | Report as abusive
 

We have already come to the conclusion that using fossil fuels is accelerating the greenhouse effect that normally occurs in cycles as geological history shows. Entrenched business want to continue profiting from brown technologies.

That’s all well and good for now. But there has been no major push for clean energy technology. And this is what is REALLY needed if we are to lead in the 21st century. I haven’t seen any incentives for clean energy development yet. Obama needs to push the issue on clean tech.

But even more importantly he needs to do what he can to remove corporate constituents. Corporations are not people. If business is allowed to sway law makers into making the environment easy for them to profit while they do nothing to innovate, then innovation will go out the window in favor of easy profit. This is happening now and is why there is such a strong lobby against climate change bills. They are being obstructed by entrenched brown energy companies.

Get rid of corporate citizenship. Strike down corporate personhood and return the government of the people back to the people.

Posted by Benny_Acosta | Report as abusive
 

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