Eliminate subsidies for developing new clean energy technologies while at the same time adding the cost of pollution, global warming, and wars to the price of fossil fuels. It’s a variation on a theme that’s been voiced by energy experts and a variety of others, including politicians — a “grand” political bargain on US energy policy that could prove to be acceptable to more conservative Republicans in the House and Senate, a group that, in large majority, have vigorously opposed the Obama Administration’s renewable energy and clean technology initiatives.
What makes this particular proposal something notably unusual is that it comes from a longstanding Republican and former South Carolina Congressman — Bob Inglis. Inglis presented his energy policy proposal while making the keynote address to attendees of the first ever South Carolina Clean Energy Summit, which was held at the Columbia Convention Center last week, according to a report from The State.
“‘We don’t have a true cost comparison,’ for the continued use of fossil fuels versus using new technologies,” writes The State’s Jeff Wilkinson. Were the cost of Middle East wars included in the price of gasoline, Inglis was quoted as saying, “we’d beat a path to the Prius dealership.”
Letting Market Forces Work
Letting market forces work more freely in determining energy prices is a key aspect of Inglis’ proposal, in which case he should also be advocating removing all the subsidies fossil fuel providers have been receiving for decades, subsidies many times more than that afforded clean and renewable energy providers.
Inglis also noted that the costs of climate change are real and increasing. That’s a point that’s likely to hit home, as much of the US — including key Midwestern corn and agricultural producers — finds itself suffering drought conditions.
The USDA recently slashed its estimates of this year’s corn crop, which has prompted concerns about rising prices for a wide range of consumer staples, from livestock feed to meat and ethanol.
Inglis lost his 2010 bid to be the GOP’s Republican candidate for the House of Representatives for South Carolina’s Greenville-Spartanburg district, losing to current Rep. Trey Gowdy, The State recounts. Somewhat atypically for politicians, Inglis held firm to his views on climate change and his support for and agreement with current climate science consensus.
That, he says, led to his defeat, as Republicans moved farther to the right. “It’s better to lose a political race than lose your soul,” The State quoted.
Inglis intends to go further, taking his clean energy / cost of climate change message and proposal nationwide in a conservative campaign in support of changing US energy policy to promote and foster a level energy playing field and a faster, more intensive effort to shift away from fossil fuels and toward greater renewable energy use and energy efficiency efforts.
In addition, George Mason University said that it has selected Inglis to lead the Energy and Enterprise Initiative at its Center for Climate Change Communication. The Center’s Energy and Enterprise Initiative intends to bring climate scientists, economists, and national security experts together in a series of forums across the country to discuss the means by which “free enterprise” could solve “the nation’s energy and climate challenges,” Wilkinson reported.
South Carolina’s Clean Energy Business Alliance
Among the sponsors of South Carolina’s first Clean Energy Summit was the South Carolina Clean Energy Business Alliance (SCCEBA), which has put together research-based fact sheets on the potential for renewable energy, clean technology, and energy efficiency to revitalize the state’s economy, as well as substantially enhance environmental conditions.
Following are excerpts from SCCEBA’s fact sheets on South Carolina’s Solar Energy, Wind Energy, and Energy Efficiency Potential:
SC Solar Energy Potential
- South Carolina could produce 51,000 megawatts (MW) of electricity from solar photovoltaic panels – 3X more than all existing generation capacity in the state.
- South Carolina could generate 3,500 jobs in solar energy manufacturing, if positive federal policies were adopted.
“Nationwide, the solar industry job base expanded 6.8% last year – nearly 10X faster than the overall economy,” SCCEBA notes.
SC Wind Energy Potential
- South Carolina could produce 70,000MW of electricity from offshore wind energy – 4X more than all of the existing generation capacity in the state.
- The U.S. Department of Energy estimates South Carolina will install between 1,000MW and 3,000MW of offshore wind capacity by 2030 with the appropriate national wind policies.
- South Carolina could generate an additional 11,200 jobs by 2025 within the wind manufacturing industry if favorable federal policies are adopted.
SC Energy Efficiency Potential
- More than 21,000 jobs could be created by 2025 with the development and implementation of additional energy efficiency and water efficiency policies in South Carolina.
- Geothermal equipment manufacture and installation could provide an additional 5,200 jobs, if favorable federal policies were adopted. South Carolina could be among the top five states in the nation for geothermal equipment manufacturing.
- In 2010 the green building materials industry supported more than 4,800 jobs in South Carolina and energy-saving building materials supported more than 3,700 jobs.
SCCEBA has also put out the “South Carolina Clean Technology Primer,” a worthwhile read for US renewable energy, clean tech and energy efficiency proponents, particularly those residing in the Southeast.
Photo Credit: Coastal Conservation League
I've been reporting and writing on a wide range of topics at the nexus of economics, technology, ecology/environment and society for some five years now. Whether in Asia-Pacific, Europe, the Americas, Africa or the Middle East, issues related to these broad topical areas pose tremendous opportunities, as well as challenges, and define the quality of our lives, as well as our relationship to the natural environment.