In an article in the New York Times, US to Investigate China’s Clean Energy Aid, Senator Schumer voiced a complaint that China is engaging in unfair trade practices by supporting clean energy development with government funds.
Schumer is right. It is unfair. Don’t they know we are a plutocracy! How can we compete? The US is unable to emulate china in this level of support, because our hands are tied. The corporate control of all the Senate Republicans (and two or three Senate Democrats) in this country by the fossil fuel industry effectively eliminates competition by the newer renewable energy industry.
Chinese legislation encourages renewable energy. It nationalized its transmission in two weeks in order to allow huge amounts of new renewable energy. It passed legislation requiring utilities buy any and all the renewable energy put onto the grid, along with a clear cap and trade policy, a national Feed in tariff, and this week a carbon tax, all of which encourages investment with the market certainty that investors need, and the results have been both predictable and astoundingly encouraging.
But now the losers are complaining.
It’s not China’s fault. It is our fault. We have Senate rules that allow a minority party to prevent votes on clean energy. Senate Republicans are now openly and officially committed by party platform to fossil energy protection for the foreseeable future, since now only climate deniers need apply. They must now adhere to the the fossil industry’s no “climate tax” pledge, advanced by one of its many front groups, Americans for Prosperity.
The one clean energy investment splurge we have been able to do in the last thirty years, within the stimulus bill in March (not the Bank Bailout bill of 2008) was during a freak event.
Democrats held 60 seats in the Senate for a few months before Kennedy died, for the first time since Republicans started using the 60 vote tactic to prevent simple majority votes a few decades ago.
The Recovery Act invested a one time $90 billion in renewable energy to build 16 Gigawatts of renewable energy, which will have doubled renewables once all spent. Some of it is in the form of investment tax credits for next year, some of it in the form of grants funded only once the new clean energy farms open for business. This was the greatest investment in thirty years.
But the US Senate is unlikely to ever write policy that is as progressive again.