US Chamber Calls on Congress to Force Dirty Energy Projects Down Americans' Throats

The US Chamber of Commerce has been drinking its own Kool-Aid again, and trying this time to get members of Congress to think it's green tea. The Chamber is attempting to convince policymakers that burdensome regulations are blocking clean energy development, and thus blocking green jobs.

This newest silliness from the Chamber comes in the form of something called "Project/No Project" which purports to document how "radical environmentalists" and their "Not in My Backyard Allies" are blocking new clean energy development with "green tape" (like red-tape, except when enviros are involved I guess.)

Except that the Chamber's own website actually identifies the obstructionists associated with each project, and the terms "Neighboring businesses", "Local residents", "Government officials" "Local officials" seem to show up an awful lot for a problem the Chamber blames on "radical environmentalists." NRDC's name appears as well, but "radical" isn't usually the term applied.

At any rate, the Chamber's proposed solution to this is to ask Congress to "streamline the environmental permitting process to make the promise of green projects a reality."

Wouldn't that be nice? Except for the fact that the Chamber has documented far more cases of dirty and unsafe energy (coal and nuclear plants) than renewable energy projects (wind, solar, etc.) So what kind of energy do they really want to move forward?

For example, there are 12 pages of coal and nuclear projects, but only 7 pages of renewable energy projects, including wind, solar, geothermal and biomass. What's surprising is that there aren't all that many the Chamber actually says have been "killed." For example, out of those 7 pages of renewables projects, they only describe 16 as having been "killed."

For comparison's sake, there were about 125 wind energy projects brought on-line last year according to the American Wind Energy Association. That's not even counting the number of solar, biomass, geothermal and other renewable energy projects brought on line last year.

I don't have #s for all those sources, but the Solar Energy Industries Association's Year in Review reported that "The U.S. solar energy industry grew to new heights in 2008 and many industry observers expect that growth to continue in 2009."

In fact, SEIA goes on to note that projects are becoming easier to develop: "With the easing of supply bottlenecks and the aggressive alternative-energy investments provided by 2008's EESA and 2009's American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, going solar will be increasingly attractive and affordable for families, businesses and utilities across the country."

So its hard not to draw the conclusion that renewable energy projects are actually moving along quite well, and that the stalled dirty energy projects are the Chamber's real concern, and the real goal of their call for "streamlining" is to get these dirty energy projects moving again.

And frankly, I can't think of why any member of Congress would want to pass a law that enables energy developers - clean or dirty - to shove projects down the throats of "Neighboring businesses," "Local residents," "Government officials" and "Local officials."