Last night, President Obama laid out an ambitious plan to fix the national economy and stop the ballooning national debt. One area he specifically detailed was the current US energy industry and its many shortcomings. While he touted the benefits of domestic oil and natural gas production, the president also mentioned the burgeoning impact that solar and wind power are having on the U.S. energy market. He stressed the importance of pursuing a market-based solution to climate change that would significantly reduce emissions and allow businesses to keep their productivity high. Jobs, lower energy bills and a cleaner environment were all mentioned as benefits to pursuing these climate-friendly solutions.
A comprehensive bipartisan effort to solve the climate change crisis has been stalled for years, but the president’s words last night were the strongest push he has made to make climate change and clean energy a priority. His administration’s actions on energy and fuel efficiency standards in his first term were a good first step, but President Obama needs to continue fighting for reforms to our current energy industry. He correctly noted that over the past four years, countries like China have invested heavily in clean energy and have seen rewards in the form of jobs and lower pollution costs. Supporting solar, wind, biomass and other forms of renewable energy in the United States would create a consistent source of manufacturing and installation jobs that would support the transition to a cleaner energy industry.
President Obama also stressed the important fact that billions of dollars’ worth of electricity is wasted every year simply because our energy efficiency standards are not up to date. Energy efficient buildings are few and far between despite the availability of cost saving technology. By proposing to invest more in research towards alternative fuel sources and efficiency measures, the president made it clear that he does not view oil or natural gas as anything more than a bridge to the renewable era. The faster his clean energy plans are implemented, the quicker we can focus on getting clean energy onto the grid and getting fossil fuel sources off the grid.
Put altogether, these varied initiatives may sound like too large a task to undertake in one presidential term. But there are options to help President Obama realize his vision and get the United States back atop the global clean energy market. At a time when productive and popular government tax credits (like the Production Tax Credit and Investment Tax Credit) are under fire, we need creative financial solutions that both parties can agree on.
Green America’s Clean Energy Victory Bonds (CEVBs) proposal is one solution that has the potential to make an impact on both sides of the aisle. The bill would use investments from US citizens (in the form of treasury bonds) to fund the extension of these important tax credits and provide support for energy efficiency measures and electric vehicles. The key fact is that CEVBs will not use public taxpayer dollars to advance clean energy. Instead, Americans will choose whether they want to invest in a clean energy future for the country. Thousands of Americans have already made the pledge to buy millions of dollars worth of bonds once they becomes available and there will be plenty of money available for investment in our clean energy future. If President Obama is serious about making clean energy a priority, he should continue to look to initiatives like Clean Energy Victory Bonds to effectively and responsibly build the clean energy market, while creating over 1.7 million good paying jobs.