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Not So Bulletproof

Thursday, February 5, 2009

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Special to Enviroblog by Don Carr, EWG Press Secretary

The notion that proven and clean renewable energy technologies like solar and wind can be the driver for American energy independence took a hit today, and the culprit is the ever worsening financial crisis. As reported by the New York Times' Kate Galbraith :

Wind and solar power have been growing at a blistering pace in recent years, and that growth seemed likely to accelerate under the green-minded Obama administration. But because of the credit crisis and the broader economic downturn, the opposite is happening: installation of wind and solar power is plummeting.

Factories building parts for these industries have announced a wave of layoffs in recent weeks, and trade groups are projecting 30 to 50 percent declines this year in installation of new equipment, barring more help from the government.

It takes lots and lots of money to build forests of wind turbines and fields of solar arrays. With the collapse of the credit market, many manufactures are finding it impossible to find financing for large scale projects. One would hope the federal government could step in (and very well could with a stimulus package) but currently, the US government spends two thirds of taxpayer funded subsidies on what it classifies as renewable energy on corn-based ethanol -- a fuel that underperforms compared to gasoline, contributes to water pollution, encourages the clearing of wildlife habitat and likely worsens global warming.

At least we're not yet buying advanced renewable energy from foreign countries like we do with traditional fossil fuels.

Oh wait, strike that.