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Published on January 14th, 2011 | by Zachary Shahan

Why the U.S. Doesn't Get What it Wants

As I read some possible government policies to address America's energy supply, tell me whether you would favor or oppose each. Would you favor or oppose the government increasing federal funding for research on wind, solar, and hydrogen technology?

The sad thing about the U.S. is that most citizens think they control the government. Why do politicians get elected? Because the get millions upon millions of dollars from big business, which they use to create commercials and other ads telling their constituents to vote for them. When they get elected, do they need to respond to the desires of their constituents? Hardly. They need to respond to the desires of their funders, though. (Note: I’m not saying citizens shouldn’t be involved or care. Actually, I think we need to be more involved and more informed in order to take that power back from large corporations.)

While coal and oil were necessary to the growth of the U.S. economy many years ago, they should be on their way out, for economic, environmental, national security, and health reasons. We need to change over to a clean energy economy.

U.S. citizens get this!

However, big oil and big coal don’t care, and they have the money.

What got me going on this tangent? Recent claims by Karen Harbert, president of the Chamber’s Institute for 21st Century Energy, that we should reconsider spending money on research and development of clean energy technologies like solar and wind instead of on ‘older’ dirty energy like oil and coal, as well as coverage of the topic (including the strong public ‘demand’ for clean energy, something I’ve covered many times over on our sister site Cleantechnica) by Dr Joe Romm of Climate Progress.

Here’s the beginning of Dr Romm’s piece over on Climate Progress, The Chamber of Commerce is so extreme they oppose research and development into renewable energy! (block quotes in Dr Romm’s piece are in italics here because I can’t show block quotes within block quotes).

Some Pollyannas (climate ostriches?) claim we are moving towards a post-partisan Congress that might embrace massive increases in clean energy R&D.  The folks with real money and influence on Capitol Hill, however, know we are moving in the opposite direction.  As The Hill reportedthis week:

Karen Harbert, president of the Chamber’s Institute for 21st Century Energy, in a wide-ranging interview with The Hill late last month said members of Congress should rethink attempts to set aside large amounts of money for the research and development of nascent energy technologies like wind and solar at the expense of conventional forms of energy like oil.

The fact that the public overwhelmingly supports clean energy R&D means nothing to the pollutocrats who run the Chamber.  They strongly opposed the climate and clean energy jobs bill, even though the public strongly supported that too (see “Post BP Disaster: Support grows for comprehensive energy bill that makes carbon polluters pay” for a long list of polls”).

The Chamber, of course, ran an unprecedented $75 million campaign to unseat progressives from Congress, in defense of a big-oil agenda.  So no one should be totally surprised that they tout the most extremist anti-clean energy position imaginable:

“Can we, in the economic times in which we find ourselves, continue to fund the type of research and development and the types of monies that were spent in the stimulus package on very high-cost energy sources?” Harbert said….

“It may be lovely to think about a world without fossil fuels, but that simply is not America’s energy reality.”

Well, obviously, if you kill any effort to put a price on carbon, accelerate deployment of clean energy, or even ramp up R&D, then you’ll be addicted to fossil fuels until they are gone along with the climate.






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About the Author

is the director of CleanTechnica, the most popular cleantech-focused website in the world, and Planetsave, a world-leading green and science news site. He has been covering green news of various sorts since 2008, and he has been especially focused on solar energy, electric vehicles, and wind energy since 2009.

Aside from his work on CleanTechnica and Planetsave, he’s the founder and director of Solar Love, EV Obsession, and Bikocity.

To connect with Zach on some of your favorite social networks, go to ZacharyShahan.com and click on the relevant buttons.



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