Energy leaders meet to push for taxpayer-funded green energy grants

October 17, 2013 by  
Filed under Green Energy News

Former government officials and powerful energy executives came together Wednesday to seek taxpayer dollars via increased green energy subsidies and government spending.

Convened by Securing America’s Future Energy (SAFE), the “energy security summit” commemorated the 40th anniversary of the OPEC oil embargo of 1973, an event that sent oil prices soaring and briefly crippled America’s economy.

Former Secretaries of State Henry Kissinger and Madeleine Albright and former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta were on hand to underline how America’s dependence on oil threatens national security.

“If there were another OPEC shutdown — or a major crisis that really sent the price of oil skyrocketing — and it got a lot of attention… It would be a front-burner political issue,” Panetta said. “We can’t simply wait for the next crisis to happen.”

But despite an early emphasis on security, for most of the summit energy executives alternatively trumpeted their energy innovations and prodded the government to involve itself through “incentives,” “infrastructure investments” and a “national energy policy.”

Jeff Immelt, CEO of General Electric, challenged the federal government to set an enforceable clean energy standard to promote the use of natural gas and other low-emission fuels. He’d also like to see more subsidies, which he said “always help to get the technology underway.”

FedEx CEO Fred Smith talked about reimposing and strengthening fuel efficiency standards. “Perhaps that makes me a free marketeer apostate,” he admitted, “but this is a geopolitical strategic issue, and it’s our single biggest economic and national security challenge.”

The CEO of General Motors, Dan Akerson, promoted the adoption of more tax credits, or “incentives,” to encourage the growth of natural gas and other alternatives. “There have to be incentives to give industrial sectors a push,” he said, “or [the United States] is not going to be a viable economic competitor in the 21st century.”

Waste Management CEO David Steiner even stumped for subsidies while on stage. “Lots of subsidies are going out,” he claimed, “and they’re going to the green energy industries that are popular.”

Steiner also explained that his company alone produces more energy than the entire solar panel industry combined.

“Put [subsidies] where the BTU’s are!” he said.

The SAFE summit’s panelists were sometimes vague on which particular subsidies or policies they support, but SAFE itself has actively lobbied the government for alternative energy assistance.

Along with The Electrification Coalition, SAFE’s sister organization, the group is registered to lobby for The Promoting Electric Vehicles Act of 2011. The bill, which is still under consideration, would force the government to shell out $2 billion to put 400,000 electric cars on American roads. It would also require the federal government to electrify its entire fleet of vehicles and research the development of better electric vehicle batteries and infrastructure, to the tune of another $260 million.

GE, FedEx and GM each stand to gain tremendously if the bill passes. GM builds electric cars, FedEx is converting its commercial trucks into electric vehicles and GE produces the charging stations that would serve them both.

SAFE has also lobbied for other boons to the alternative energy industry, including the 2009 increase in federally-mandated miles per gallon and a $7,500 tax credit for those who purchase “zero emission vehicles.”

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