PBS recently aired a great story on harvesting wind energy. You watch that and can't help but feel hopeful about the path toward a cleaner energy future. Then reality kicks in when you consider that the bulk of U.S. energy subsidies go toward fossil fuels that pump global warming pollution into the atmosphere. A new study by the Environmental Law Institute reveals that the oil and coal industries benefited from approximately $72 billion in tax breaks over the seven-year period, compared to just $29 billion for renewable energy.
David Roberts puts it bluntly in Grist:
One often hears opponents of clean energy say that renewable sources are too expensive; they can't get by without subsidies; they can't compete in a "free market." One of the many reasons this is a daffy argument is that there is no such thing as a free market, certainly not in energy. Fossil fuels have benefited from a century of subsidies and supporting infrastructure -- and are still subsidized lavishly relative to their scrappy little competitors.
It's a shame that government is behind the curve when it comes to allocating resources for climate-friendly technologies. In corporate America, the story is beginning to change. Many companies are betting their bottom dollars that curbing their carbon footprint will be good for their business. There's a story in tolday's Washington Post about firms that see climate change as a threat to their profit margin. Indeed, in the coming carbon-constrained world, many companies see it as paramount to reduce energy consumption, use energy more efficiently, and rely more on renewable sources for their power. An added benefit is that such steps not only save money, but earn customer loyalty and employee satisfaction from the growing segment of Americans who support clean energy solutions to climate change.
The undeniable fact is that we need urgent action on clean energy and climate change in order to put America back in control of our economy, as well as our security and the future of our planet. Congress needs to stop stalling and step it up when it comes to passing comprehensive clean enegy legislation that reduces global warming pollution. And as more and more companies are showing, clean energy is good business.