US Leaders Must Embrace Green Energy Development

<p>In what was a more telling tale of politics than policy, President Barack Obama and former Governor Mitt Romney continued their bickering on the topic of energy independence and alternative resources up until their final days on the campaign trail. While the election was undoubtedly a crucial predictor of our nation’s economic future, it also came at a pivotal moment for our nation’s future in energy.</p>
<p>Romney, who once stood in front of a coal mine saying it “kills people,” boasted his affection for coal and advocated for the Keystone Pipeline. Obama, who has yet to follow up on a number of promises, continued to promote both natural and alternative energy sources and bragged of the respect green energy experts have ceded him. So, regardless of who will take office come January, which of them got it right?</p>
<p>Obama, in the past four years, has pleased both conservatives and liberals in his approach to energy policy. He may not have achieved all of his promises in his first term, but many were long-term goals that he admitted would require more than one term.</p>
<p>Since his 2009 stimulus plan, Obama has spent $90 billion on green energy, including funding for makers of solar panels, wind turbines, biofuels and electric cars. While a number of them failed, others have received government investments and tax incentives that were successful in promoting the foundation for a clean energy economy for the future. But, to steal a <span>cliché</span>, the buck stopped there.</p>
<p>Governor Romney, on the other hand, rose as a fierce proponent of energy independence — but in a different sense. He was in support of policy focused on drilling, as well as cutting funding for clean energy sources. He also wanted to extend tax breaks for large oil corporations and argued for the drilling of public and coastal lands. Frustrating both energy advocates and members of his own party, Romney opposed the extension of a tax credit for wind turbine companies. To his surprise, even red states see the potential in green energy. Still, he ignored it, as he continued to side with big oil and coal companies.</p>
<p>“Romney would have rather drilled and continued to give money to big oil companies,” Connor Farrell, <span>FCRH</span> ’14, said. “Obama was for strengthening the EPA, while Romney clearly alluded to weakening the agency,”</p>
<p>Even if Obama was the better option for our nation’s future in green energy, why are we still far behind other nations?</p>
<p>Where our nation stands with green energy in relation to the rest of the industrialized world is modest at best. The United States is lagging behind its competitors in developing and advancing green energy technology, while countries like China, Australia and Germany continue to soar. Not only do they have more streamlined permit and regulation processes, but they are also home to far more competitive markets. Over the past five years, the cost of photovoltaic panels has plummeted 75 percent due to China’s mass production at far cheaper prices. In Germany, the prices of solar panels are half of our $5.50 per watt.</p>
<p>Obama has failed to develop a national energy policy, one that eases regulation, promotes investment, stirs the market and interests buyers. Adopting a policy like that is something at which China, Germany and Australia have succeeded. Without these policies, our nation cannot grow, become environmentally sustainable or further its national security.</p>
<p>Energy differs from other industries in that it cannot be advanced solely by the private sector. If we want to avoid extremely dangerous climate changes, reduce pollution and cut down on our dependence on foreign oil, then major changes, not bargains by venture capitalists, need to be made. These major reforms are the kind that can only be made by the government.</p>
<p>The federal government should be prepared to make the same mistakes that the private sector has made. A willingness to bet on which clean technologies will work and which will not would parallel how research and development for the Department of Defense works. One can only hope for such a favorable outcome, however.</p>
<p>For this reason, the American green energy market is not booming because it does not start at the bottom and escalate upward. Conversely, it begins at the top, with the government, with investors, with those willing to work continuously to get it right, and, as much as I do not want to say it, trickles down.</p>
<p>If done right, more awareness of climate change, more sensitivity toward our planet and more interest in playing a role in changing the world for the better will ensue.</p>
<p>“Awareness requires education,” Farrell said. “Most schools are not required to teach environmental science and the result is a failure to understand all of these policies we are hearing about, but it’s not just our world — it’s not just for us to own.”</p>
<p>Joseph Vitale, FCRH ’16, is a communication and media studies major from New York, NY.</p>

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  1. […] US Leaders Must Embrace Green Energy I really like the authors take that green energy will require a private-public sector partnership and that both sides will have to be willing to accept and learn from mistakes&#8230; Too bad this is not the kind of leadership we see at the top of most businesses and in our politicians! […]

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