Google reports that the clean energy industry could grow to $150 billion in two decades. So why is Congress pushing to defund solar programs?
Critics of solar and offshore wind power have long complained that they're the costliest methods of generating electricity. But Google.org has a new report out predicting that the clean energy industry—dependent on solar, wind, nuclear and geothermal technology innovation, as well as electric cars—could eventually rake in $150 billion annually and add 1.1 million new jobs in the next two decades. Electric cars could also save $699 per household per year. Here's the catch: The government and the private sector needs to be squarely on board, and cough up the cash and polices to support it.
Well, Congress clearly hasn't taken the news to heart. The future of federal solar programs, for one, are particularly tenuous. Obsession about reducing the deficit has the Republican-controlled House eyeing the federal grant and loan guarantee programs that have been funding these projects. It's also seeming more and more unlikely that Congress will get behind a national clean energy standard that could boost demand for solar power. Suntech America's Roger Efird predicts in USA Today that the loss of these programs would put 100,000 people out of a job. And Google says that five years of inconsistent policy that slows private investment could result in $2.3 to $3.2 trillion in unrealized GDP gains.
Reminder: the number one issue on Americans' minds are jobs. And regardless of political affiliation, money-making has always been an American common denominator. So why the hell is this not a no-brainer? Moves like these underscore how counterproductive deficit hawking is, and not only because of short-term job costs in the middle of a recession. It's also deeply insulting to see politicians prioritize scoring points over investing in our generation's future.