Green energy deserves your support – Journal

June 5, 2014 by  
Filed under Green Energy News

One of my sons works for a company that builds wind turbines to generate electricity. Unfortunately, the company — with plants in Windsor, Brighton, and Pueblo — doesn’t make any of the turbines going in around here, but at least the Colorado factories are again operating at something approaching their former level. The kid’s making a living, and he and his wife are making a nice home for our grandchildren, so all is well.

At least as long as the government protection holds out.

It’s hard to put real numbers on how much the federal government subsidizes various energy industries because everyone involved in energy has an agenda. But using some averages and sixth grade arithmetic, I come up with about $5.2 billion per year for wind energy against roughly $7.5 billion for big oil. Now, I can understand the wind energy subsidy — the infrastructure is still growing, and will be for some time, but once it’s in place, the companies that own it will be able to turn a profit. I am puzzled, though, as to why the oil industry needs subsidies, especially since ExxonMobil earned $42 billion in profits in 2011.

The subsidy for the wind energy industry, however, is constantly threatened by lobbying groups who oppose it for a variety of reasons ranging from the half-baked to the criminally cynical. Congress keeps passing a series of one-year, last-minute bills that causes the industry to stumble along, forcing layoffs and restarts in factories and construction crews.

When I first realized that wind-driven electrical generation was, not just possible but feasible, I was optimistic about our planet’s future. I assumed (silly me!) that oil and coal companies would see the possibilities and move quickly to secure licensing and construction rights. Alas, no, they simply continued to gobble up their corporate welfare while trying to crowd the newcomers from the trough.

So in the face of congressional inaction in 2012 my son’s employer was forced to lay off thousands of workers, disrupting their lives and homes and families. Some of them are back at work, but in the mean time they’ve lost out on their share of the American dream, whatever that is nowadays.

What is needed — indeed, what is required of us — is a coherent federal energy policy that recognizes the necessity of moving from carbon-based fuels to renewable energy sources. Obviously, that’s not going to happen during the current climate in the nation’s capital. So, here’s what I want you, dear reader, to do:

Regardless of who you vote for this coming November, I want you to go to your computer, Google your favorite member of Congress, be he or she in the House or the Senate, and beg him or her – yes, beg – to please, get on board with a multi-year tax credit for any source of energy that is sustainable and not based on extracting hydrocarbons from the earth. Our future on this planet depends on it.

Jeff Rice is a former newspaper reporter and editor.

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