NEW ENERGY – TRUTH IS BETTER THAN MYTHS
Lisa Margonelli is the rarest kind of oil expert, one not under the financial influence of the oil and gas industry. In a Washington Post think piece correcting myths about oil consumption patterns and advocating for New Energy and energy efficiency development, Margonelli used her independent and authoritative voice to speak out on behalf of the New Energy incentives currently being considered by the U.S. Senate as part of its economic stimulus package. Margonelli: “…in the United States, a fairly miserly tax credit expires this year, and risk-averse investors are holding back from building new plants…” She goes on to outline the huge economic potential New Energy and energy efficiency development represents, a “green gold rush,” and calls for the kind of laws and incentives that would support it.
On the heels of Margonelli’s piece comes news of a new study from Navigant Consulting that a failure to extend those production tax credits (PTCs) and investment tax credits (ITCs) will put at risk 116,000 U.S. jobs and $19 billion in New Energy investment. Even the President has admitted the economy is teetering. The Department of Labor just announced the first U.S. net job loss since 2003. Now is not the time for Congress to pull incentives from one the nation’s best engines of growth.
One of the biggest arguments used by recalcitrant politicians (and the utilities and fossil fuel industries that fund them) against New Energy development is that some states don’t have adequate wind or solar resources to drive their states’ economies. The truth is that no state is without New Energy resources of one kind or another, from wind and sun to biomass and wave/tide/current power, and no state can afford NOT to invest in New Energy, the economic and energy infrastructure of the future.
If a state’s New Energy resources require a longer development time frame, efficiency measures are available for the interim. Margonelli is especially authoritative on the value of efficiency: “U.S. electrical generators lose more heat energy than Japan uses to run its entire economy, which raises the question of whether we need as much energy as we think we do. Anyway, simply recycling waste energy from industry and farming could supply nearly 20 percent of U.S. electrical needs…”
Investment is booming. Only bad policy decisions from recalcitrant leaders can stop it. (click to enlarge)
The decision the Senate is presently making about whether to keep New Energy incentives in this economic stimulus package is important and can be influenced by constituents’ voices. Let them know what you want and that you are watching - click: Power of Wind
5 Myths About Earth-Friendly Energy
Lisa Margonelli, February 3, 2008 (Washington Post)
New Study: Delay In Extending Renewable Energy Incentives Risks Loss of Over 116,000 American Jobs
Christine Real de Azua and Monique Hanis, February 4, 2008 (American Wind Energy Association/Solar Energy Industries Association)
New America Foundation fellow Lisa Margonelli, author of Oil on the Brain: Petroleum’s Long Strange Trip to Your Tank
With a green gold rush is developing in the world, Margonelli explains that the U.S. needs to see New Energy as an economic arena – “a source of jobs, cash and national influence” – and develop the diplomacy, laws and incentives to support its growth. To do that, it needs to see beyond 5 myths.
- 2007: $517 billion spent by the U.S. on oil
- New Energy is expected to quadruple in the next 8 years.
The U.S. is lagging behind because it has only recently had encouraging incentives - and now Congress is threatening to withdraw them. (click to enlarge)
- Due to U.S. disregard for New Energy, it trails China and Germany in New Energy production and is behind Japan and most of Europe in energy productivity.
- Failure to extend the PTCs and ITCs will put at risk 76,000 jobs in the wind energy industry and 40,000 jobs in the solar energy industry. It likely will cost major job losses in Texas, Colorado, Illinois, Oregon, Minnesota, Washington, Iowa, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, and California.
- Myth: 1. "Green energy" is better at sponging up subsidies than creating jobs.
- Truth: Wind energy employed 45,000+ in the U.S. and had $9 billion in investments in 2007. The solar energy was a $2 billion industry last year, up from a $200 million business in just 5 years. New Energy 194,000 direct jobs and 446,000 indirect jobs in 2006. Germany, growing faster than the U.S. due to its wise incentives program, has created 35,000+ jobs in solar energy alone.
- Myth: 2. There are no gushers left in the United States, so we have to look overseas for energy.
- Truth: The biggest gusher there is would be streamlined efficiency and New Energy capacity. While the U.S. auto industry aims for a 35 mpg standard by 2020, China is already at 36 mpg. The Pentagon has moved to make jet fuel from biofuel. Localities that,like Cambridge, Massachusetts, establish higher community efficiency standards instantly reduce fuel needs.
- Myth: 3. "Green power" can't deliver the volume of energy we need.
- Truth: Efficiency measures can potentially save 20% of the electricity the U.S. consumes. A national plan for New Energy development can produce more energy than 75 to 100 coal plants.
- Myth: 4. Americans are comfortable paying more than $3 for gas. (Otherwise, we'd leave that SUV in the garage.)
- Truth: Most Americans simply don’t know how much they pay for gas in what are called externalities, or hidden costs - $10.07 per gallon: 51 cents for asthma treatment, $1.21 for pollution abatement, $1.39 for defense expenditures, $5.19 for economic costs. That does not include costs for greenhouse gases (GHGs).
- Myth: 5. The stock market rewards companies that use energy efficiently and punishes those that don't.
- Truth: Publicly traded companies are not required to disclose their energy consumption and more than half of the Fortune 50 don’t. Coming cap-and-trade requirements to account for and deal with emissions are likely to change the choices investors make.
Renewable Energy's potential to generate jobs over the next quarter century should be cultivated, not disrespected. (click to enlarge)
- Margonelli: “In 1879, Congress created the U.S. Geological Survey to map the country's resources; today, we should ask the National Academy of Sciences to map new sources of energy.”
- Bob Epstein, co-founder, Environmental Entrepreneurs (as quoted by Margonelli): “Landmark legislation in the past, such as the 1862 Homestead Act and the 1933 act that created the Tennessee Valley Authority, has used federal resources to spur development. A similar plan for wind, solar and geothermal power on public lands in the Southwest could produce as much electricity as 75 to 100 coal plants…”
- Margonelli: “…surely it's time to get some good estimates [of the hidden costs of burning gasoline] and print them on gas pumps, receipts and billboards. If this sounds a lot like the surgeon general's warning on cigarettes, it is. We use gas with the same unconscious abandon that 1960s smokers used cigarettes as diet aids. Acknowledging the consequences won't change our habits overnight, but it will change our values over time. (Just ask the tobacco companies.)”
- Gregory Wetstone, American Wind Energy Association: “This study confirms the huge economic stimulative impact of extending the tax credits for renewable energy…At risk are many thousands of construction jobs, operations and maintenance jobs, and a major shot in the arm for the ailing U.S. manufacturing sector. Shuttered facilities that once provided steel, railcars, trucks, submarines, and household appliances are now being converted to manufacture renewable energy components. Today, however, investors are holding back because of Congress’s delay in extending renewable energy tax credits, undermining one of the brightest and fastest growing areas of the American economy.”