Up in the Air
The battle over wind energy
Published: Wednesday, October 24, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, October 24, 2012 16:10
This December, a number of significant tax credits for wind energy development companies are set to expire, withdrawing millions of dollars from an industry that drastically needs government support to get up and running. Many wind energy production companies have already begun to terminate employees in a preemptive attempt to adjust for the loss of their tax credits.
Should the tax credits be allowed to expire, it could mean the loss of over 37,000 jobs in an economy that desperately needs every single job it can create. With the Republican Party setting up so much criticism on the Obama Administration’s job creation record, it serves as pure hypocrisy that their energy plan calls for no renewal of the wind energy production tax credits.
Though I take issue with President Obama’s insistence to continue allowing and encouraging the growth of oil and natural gas exploration and extraction, I do recognize the need for a steady, secure source of energy while our nation makes the transition from a fossil fuel powered infrastructure to one supported by renewable energy. For let there be no doubt in your mind that our nation, and our world, will need to abandon fossil fuels within the next half century in order for our society to remain stable.
The insistence of the Republican Party to focus its entirely energy policy on fossil fuels, and its utter resistance to the progress promised by renewable energy is nothing short of asinine, short-sighted idiocy. They will quip justifications for their plan to allow the wind energy tax credits to expire that are, once again, pure hypocrisy. They state that in our free-market economy, any industry that is going to be viable on a long-term basis must be allowed to grow on its own, without the shoulder of the government to lean upon.
And yet, the very industry upon which they intend to lie the whole futures of the American people – the oil and gas industry – was not only founded on government stimulus money, it continues to take over $4 billion tax dollars every year from the American people! Stimulus dollars that, during the dawn of the fossil fuel era, were intended to get the oil and gas industry on its feet and help it become viable and dependable enough to exist in America’s free market economy were never repealed, even when those same companies began turning multi-billion dollar profits each and every year.
Yes, that’s right folks. Exxon-Mobil, Haliburton, Royal Dutch Shell, and BP – the companies that rob us blind at the gas pump, turning billions of dollars of profit each, every year – currently receive billions more in stimulus money from the government. And you may say that this money is necessary for our economy to have a secure supply of fossil fuels, but you must know how short-sighted that is!
Is that stimulus money not better spent on technology that will last us indefinitely into the future? There will never be a shortage of sunshine or wind power, the way that there will eventually be no fossil fuel left to extract from the earth’s crust. How can we possibly justify throwing away so much money in an economic climate that requires us to be stringent in all areas of government spending?
We will be casting our ballots in less than two weeks from today. And when we go to the polls, there will be many issues milling around in our heads, many of them focused on short term, here-and-now problems. And though those problems are possibly the most pressing things on most peoples’ minds, we must not forget to plan for the long-term as well. For if we do not plan for the future, we will not have one.
The wind energy tax credits must not be allowed to expire. If they are, the wind power industry as we know it may collapse, setting back our progress towards renewable energy independence by years. And if we really want to plan ahead, we must consider that one candidate wishes to continue wasting billions of dollars on multi-billion dollar fossil fuel companies, while another plans to shift the focus of the energy industry to the future. You don’t need to be a genius to see where your vote is best cast.
Nathan is a senior majoring in landscape architecture. Follow him on twitter @nwstottler.