Over the last decade soaring gasoline and natural gas prices have brought in focus, again and again, the role of green energy – in other words renewable energy – in providing electricity, replacing fossil fuel use, and curbing the growing craze for power transmission equipment. But in terms of awareness, adoption and implementation of green energy imperatives, the United States, in a substantial measure, lagged behind the West European counterparts and Japan, who took giant strides in implementing green energy technologies and policies. Unfortunately, America is ranked as low as the 22nd energy efficient counties.
Dubai: 1991 vs 2005 pic.twitter.com/1F0jV48WXn
— History In Pictures (@HistoryInPics) January 18, 2014
Surprisingly, since the early seventies our electricity consumption had tripled. Our ineffective middle-east policies and oil-politics, had thrust us in perpetual war-games, and made us nonchalant about the impending long-run hazards of mankind. Also, the responsibility of failure rests on partisanship, special interest advocacy groups and ineffective political rhetorics of the past regime.
During pre-election campaign President Obama had been very critical about our flawed energy policies, and his much-advertized vision for energy policy had placed the significance and exigency of green energy policies at the forefront. His draft policy substantially emphasized the salient efficacies of the renewable energy. While emphasizing the the importance of green energy, he was poignantly observant about the result of climatic degradation and the alarming issues like shrinking polar ice-caps making sea levels to rise, extreme weather conditions wreaking global havoc, severe recurrent droughts, the menace of migrating tropical diseases and the log-term threat of sheer extinction of numerous species. In this article, I would like to recap the policy directions he thought about.
The green energy solutions, he propagated in his campaign had two dimensions – the short-term and the mid-to-long-term initiatives. The short-term solutions, as propagated by President Obama in his campaign, focus basically on providing some immediate relief to the consumers from soaring energy costs. He talked about extending emergency energy rebate to the households “by requiring the oil companies to take reasonable share of their record- breaking windfall profits and use it to provide direct relief worth $500 for an individual and $1,000 for a married couple.”Other short-term prescriptions included initiation of regulatory measures to plug the loopholes in Commodity Futures Trading Commission, so as to control excessive oil-price speculation. The campaign also recommended to “swap light and heavy crude, release oil from Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) to cut process.” The mid-to-long-term solutions outlined in the campaign release, emphasized heavily on adoption and implementation of green energy.
The areas of emphasis encompassed “two major energy challenges -our dependence on foreign oil and global climate change – both of which stem from our current dependence on fossil fuels for energy.” On enhancing self-reliance on energy and tackling climatic change, the measures propagated, include (i) Implementation of an economy-wide cap-and-trade system to significantly reduce carbon emissions (ii) Invest in the green energy future and creating about 5 million new jobs in related areas,(iii)Making vehicles energy efficient,(iv)Increase the supply of domestic energy,(v) Diversify our sources of energy, with primary emphasis on green energy sources, and finally (vi) Promote commitment to energy efficiency with a view to lowering energy usage and costs. The campaign had some great things on green energy initiatives. it stated that a federal Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) would be set up to require that 10 percent of electricity consumed in the U.S. is derived from green energy- i.e. clean, sustainable energy sources like solar, wind and geothermal by 2012.
We noticed his strong advocacy for developing and deploying clean coal technology, because Carbon capture and storage technologies hold enormous potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions as we propel our economy with domestically produced green energy.
It outlined the need for developing the next generation of sustainable bio-fuels and providing suitable infrastructure for bio-energy growth. It recognized, “advances in bio-fuels, including cellulosic ethanol,biobutenol and other new technologies that produce synthetic petroleum from sustainable feed stocks offer tremendous potential to break our addiction to oil.” Now, any green-energy, irrespective of any party color, may raise the question- what is the progress, or where the current administration stands in terms of fulfilling the promises? The answer is, now it is too early for performance analysis. There is definitely a laundry-list of priorities that the current administration is exhaustively engaged in. It obviously includes,as the primary focus, the gigantic tasks of reforming the banking and financial sectors to arrest the economic down-turn. The next is the healthcare reform which is currently gaining heavy momentum, with Obama spearheading and pushing hard on it. But truly, energy policy reform does occupy a significant position in the list of priorities. We can patiently wait and see.