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Head Shot image of Daniel Sullivan with Helmet by: Daniel Sullivan

blog post
by: Daniel Sullivan

Renewable energy: fact, fiction, and the political arena.

April 12, 2012

Over the past year, certain members of Congress and factions of the media have made a concerted effort to attempt to marginalize both renewable energy, particularly solar power, and electric cars. They have gone as far as dubbing the Chevy Volt, an "Obamacar" and made vicious attacks on multiple domestic solar manufacturers in a blatant attempt to cast all solar manufacturers in the same light as Solyndra. At issue is the Department of Energy's Loan Guarantee Program, a program put in place with bipartisan support (remember what that was like?) under the Bush Administration. The program was designed to "support innovative clean energy technologies that are typically unable to obtain conventional private financing due to high technology risks." The concept, which has been successful overall, was to spur investment in renewable technologies and catapult the United States into a leadership role in those growing sectors. Guess what? It worked. Despite this, the far right and their media machine have neglected the facts and continued to spew dis-information at a rate that can only be compared to the rate BP spilled oil into the Gulf of Mexico.

According to a report by Pew Charitable Trusts, the United States is now the top investor in clean energy, having taken that title from both China and Germany. These investments not only catapult us to the top of the heap, but put people to work from manufacturing to engineering to construction. In fact, when the combined investments in renewable energy are aggregated among the G20 countries, the total installed capacity is 565 gigawatts of power. This means we have more renewable power across the globe than nuclear by a factor of 47%. Good to hear in the wake of the Fukishima disaster. Further, the solar industry is the fastest growing industry in the United States, something its detractors seem to ignore.

When it comes to electric cars, the far-right have pulled no punches. From calling the Chevy Volt an "Obamacar" to calling the Tesla a "brick" they seem content to try to kill American ingenuity. Having followed the Volt from a concept car to my garage, I know the Volt was conceived well before Obama came into office and the all-electric Tesla is one of the most innovative automobiles ever developed having a driving range that is double its counterparts with the ability to get from 0-60 m.p.h faster than a Ferrari. Detractors of the Volt even tried to claim the car spontaneously catches on fire despite reports from the National Transportation Safety Board stating the car has NO issues.  What's most egregious about these attacks is that they are on American companies that manufacture in the United States. Further, the Volt is both the European Car of the Year and the Motor Trend Car of the Year. The Volt is the first American car to EVER receive the European Award. Fox noise won't mention that little piece of info.

In the interest of full disclosure, I am not a Democrat, nor a Republican. I, like many Americans, am an independent and I find this year's election rhetoric to be disturbing. Yes, it is an election year. Yes, people say things to advance their political agendas. This is no surprise. However, it would be nice to see that we are above tearing apart and attacking our major accomplishments as a nation in an attempt to derail progress for political gain. So while this new ultra-conservative bunch is clamoring to paint solar and electric cars as a failed policy objective that will pass as a fad, the facts indicate otherwise.  Let's hope this rhetoric is a fad so we can continue to lead the world towards a sustainable future and unite as Americans in doing so.

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