American Energy Dominance Won’t Come from Turning Back the Clock
by Mike Carr (The Hill/New Energy America) President Trump has pledged a theme of “energy dominance.” It’s not the first time Washington has had this thought. During the years I worked at the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee we grappled with this goal. Witness after witness would tell us about the incredible advances public-private R&D was making in fast growing sectors like solar, wind and biofuels.
We knew then these technologies would rule the future. But we knew that incumbent energy companies, with their resources and capital, have an advantage over innovators.
Finding the money to build a new system that can challenge the existing — and already paid for — system, is daunting. In a regulated market like energy, it’s tough to attract investment because the incumbents also have political power.
Starting with energy bills in 2005 and 2007, followed by subsequent actions, we provided the regulatory certainty needed to attract investment. The point was to ensure the United States would “dominate” the new energy sectors where there was the most growth.
This lead to long-term market-stabilizing policies like the Renewable Fuel Standard, financing programs for projects and auto manufacturing, … .
And it worked. Job growth in renewable energy has far outpaced the rest of the economy, to say nothing of the stagnant fossil fuel industry.
But the Trump administration is proposing to walk away from the fastest growing parts of this global market, and tie our future to nearly (or currently) bankrupt fossil fuel industries.
But perhaps the most obvious example of embracing the failed past is news of Trump’s personal consideration of “reform” to the Renewable Fuel Standard — which would break a campaign promise to expand biofuels through the RFS. The justification for the fix: A bankrupt refinery, already bailed out once by the Obama administration, and beset by bad business strategy and mismanagement.
New analysis from the University of Pennsylvania shows that the plant’s problems have little to do with the RFS, that its Wall Street owners prioritized stronger investments over PES, and that it’s likely doomed no matter what.
The fact is, American technical advances in solar, wind, and biofuels have us poised to upend the ossified energy system and provide the products and technologies global markets are demanding.
We can achieve “energy dominance,” but only if we’re focused on where global markets are heading when it comes to energy. That future includes clean energy technologies like wind, solar and biofuels. Bailing out commodities of the past like coal, or ancient refineries with bad management, isn’t going to get us there. READ MORE