Sunday, Sept. 4, 2011 | 2:01 a.m.
Under President Barack Obama’s administration, the federal government has taken a more aggressive stance on developing renewable energy. It has been met with resistance by the fossil fuel industry and its supporters in Congress.
They have groused about the cost of subsidies and tax breaks for renewable energy projects (never mind the billions of dollars a year in handouts the oil industry gets).
There are always people who will complain about the price of anything they don’t like, but if the United States decides to continue the status quo, it does nothing to ease the nation’s foolish dependence on foreign oil, nor does it do anything to ease the environmental strain caused by fossil fuels.
Still, as Karoun Demirjian reported last week in the Las Vegas Sun, subsidies for renewable energy have come under fire and been targeted by Republicans in Congress, who have tried to eliminate them.
During the National Clean Energy Summit 4.0 last week in Las Vegas, which was sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Energy Secretary Steven Chu said the industry needs help but it won’t need help forever.
“We will need subsidies for a little while, but not for the indefinite future and we do expect that renewables will, whether it’s going to be competitive 10 years or 20 years from now, it’s going to be on that time scale,” Chu said. “And it will certainly be far less than the amount we needed for other traditional energies, like oil and gas.”
That, however, won’t keep the renewable energy critics quiet. They want the industry to compete on its own and decry government aid, minus the help the oil industry gets. Despite what some say, the government has a long history of spurring development and technology. As J. Patrick Coolican noted this past week, Chu outlined a number of those advances in his speech. The government certainly has a role to play in the development of the renewable energy industry.
Vice President Joe Biden said government aid helps “take projects out of the lab and turn them into companies ... these are projects that aren’t just capturing public attention, they’re attracting private capital.”
Indeed. The tax breaks and subsidies given to the renewable energy industry should be seen as investments. They will pay dividends to the country in time by expanding the country’s energy sources and adding jobs and income to the nation’s economy.
All in all, that’s a sound investment and something our nation should be able to support.