To hear opponents of clean energy tell it, the Solyndra controversy represents the death knell for government investments in renewable technologies. Never mind that solar energy remains the fastest growing industry in a slow economy. Or that wind is also growing exponentially. Or that real support for renewable energy could turn countless other technologies into viable alternatives to conventional fuels.
Clean tech critics, however – at least those who occupy positions of elected office – might want to take note of some recent poll findings that show a sizeable gap between the priorities of average Americans and the people sent to Washington to represent us.
In a poll conducted by the Civil Society Institute, a non-partisan think tank, a whopping 77 percent of Americans agree that “the United States needs to be a clean energy technology leader and it should invest in the research and domestic manufacturing of wind, solar, and energy efficiency technologies.” Further, voters favor subsidies to green energy over fossil fuels by a 3 to 1 margin.
We made a big deal on here when Steven Chu asserted last week that solar energy will be cheaper than fossil fuels within 10 years, if not sooner. We also know that carbon’s stranglehold on US economic production is beginning to weaken. But the fact that overwhelming majorities of Americans want clean energy to be the rule rather than the exception is particularly significant – especially with a congressional leadership that has been openly hostile to investments in renewable technology.
What does this mean for the future? First, that Americans clearly support a clean energy agenda at least as aggressive as the one that’s been adopted by President Obama – which also places every current Republican presidential candidate on the wrong side of this issue.
If our elected representatives heed the will of the people, we should expect to see a lot more government support for both proven and emerging renewable energy technologies. A real clean energy-based economy is within this country’s grasp, but only if the people in power listen to the people who put them there.
Congress, White House focus on Fossil Fuels and Nuclear Power is out of touch with mainstream America (Civil Society Institute)