Despite all of the benefits of clean energy and advances in technology, there are still a lot of detractors out there. Let’s look at some of the arguments people make AGAINST renewable energy, and why they are wrong.
1. Renewable energy wouldn’t exist without huge, wasteful government subsidies
Here’s how this argument goes: Renewable energy is only around because special interest groups push for it and the government spends huge amounts of money subsidizing projects to prop up the industry.
Some people argue that the only reason that renewable energy programs are growing is that the government is using subsidies to lower the cost to make the technology feasible. And you know what? This is true: between 2002 and 2008, the federal government subsidized ‘traditional’ (wind, solar) renewable energy in the country by $12.2 billion [source]. And at a time when citizens are becoming increasingly worried about our country’s debt and deficit spending, some say this is frivolous.
Any idea how much fossil fuels were subsidized during the same period? $70.2 billion [source]. Again, between 2002 and 2008, the government subsidized the fossil fuel industry by $70.2 billion! That’s over five times as much money during the same period! With subsidies like this, it’s no wonder that fossil fuel prices are so low, making transportation, electricity and heating so affordab…oh wait. Gas prices continue to skyrocket, and utility rates climb year after year. And the tax payers are out $70.2 billion on top.
Some people may argue that both numbers are wasteful and should be cut from the budget. But like it or not, the government will continue to subsidize industries that it think are crucial to our country or that could provide economic growth. We may never have developed the advanced computers we all enjoy today, not to mention the Internet, had it not been for government investment and subsidies. And that’s an important point: subsidies can be used to help emerging industries get a foothold and develop, which pays us back through economic growth, jobs and income. So why are we investing five times more in a mature, stable industry that is old, damaging technology, rather than investing in newer technology to drive growth in the future!
The government subsidizes the corn industry, the aviation industry, telecommunications, and even the financial industry. So what is the savvy businessperson/consumer to do? Turn up their nose and take some moral stand and refuse the money? No, take advantage of it! And let’s put our tax dollars to better use creating a sustainable future.
More info on subsidies at ThinkProgress.org
More arguments and rebuttals to come…