why is it taking so Long?
SOLAR TODA Y®
Leading the RenewabLe eneRgy RevoLution
In the long run, misinformation falls before fact.
by Brad Collins
When can we xpect the transition
to a new energy economy? Why is it taking
In my role at the
American Solar Energy Society (ASES), I
am regularly touched
by the passion of longtime ASES members.
During the last five or
six years, this passion
has been replaced by
another emotion: frustration. For decades, these solar pioneers have
worked for the transition they clearly saw 20,
30, and 40 years ago when they launched their
careers. Now they ask, will I see the change to
the new energy economy before I die? Will my
grandchildren be okay? These are the very real
concerns of dedicated friends.
I can tell you why it’s taking so long. The
powers of the carbon economy, with their well-paid lobbyists and huge campaign contributions, continue to throttle the will of the people.
We’ve structured our legislative branch in a way
that allows a minority of elected representatives
to stop progress at the bidding of vested corporate interests.
At ASES, our job is to share our research and
policy ideas with representatives doing the people’s work. Many of our leaders, unfortunately,
are overwhelmed by misinformation campaigns
from the other side. The carbon lobby puts familiar faces into their offices far more often and with
far more money than we can afford to do.
Money in politics is nothing new. Buying
access is the way of Washington and the way of
politics. But the circle of lobbyists, trade groups
and business interests makes it nearly impossible
to break the influence of corporations. There
must be a chink in their armor.
There is. A universal truth of American politics is that a politican’s first job is to get re-elect-ed. The broad majority of Americans tell pollsters
over and over: I want solar energy, I want effi-
Brad Collins is the
of the American
Society ( ases.org).
ciency, and I want my government to act in my
interests. A congressperson who knows that the
voters back home expect action can say to a lobbyist, “I’m sorry, but I can’t vote your way.”
We need to support leaders who are willing
to share and promote our vision of a sustainable
energy future. Leaders who obstruct rather than
lead should be identified as not working in the
public’s interest and retired from office.
For 56 years, ASES has produced fact-based,
credible data and furnished it to policymakers
to help them make informed, forward-looking
decisions. In October, ASES presented to Congress, through a news conference and an Environmental and Energy Study Institute-sponsored
congressional briefing, the report “Estimating the
Jobs Impacts of Tackling Climate Change” (see
ases.org/climatejobs). The report forecasts how
many new net jobs would be created if lawmakers
implement the vision that we created three years
ago in our “Tackling Climate Change in the U.S.”
report ( ases.org/climatechange), directed and
edited by Chuck Kutscher.
The new report shows that a vigorous renewable energy policy is a winner across the board.
We win because an 80 percent reduction in
atmospheric carbon by 2050 requires no new
technology and offers a substantial net savings
to the economy.
We win because large-scale deployment of
energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies will create a vibrant, profitable and
globally competitive American industry that
can lead the world.
We win because energy efficiency and renewable energy can create 4. 2 million net jobs by
2020 and 4. 5 million new net jobs by 2030.
Broad, aggressive deployment of efficiency
and renewable energy programs mitigates
atmospheric carbon, grows a robust industry for
America to export around the world and recovers
half of the jobs lost in the current recession.
Our members know the facts, and so do the
voters. Representatives, take note. ST
Brad Collins: Executive Director/Publisher
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SOLAR TODAy (ISSN: 1042-0630) is published nine times
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