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Jack Abramoff: Business Leaders Who Think Policy Doesn’t Matter Are “Living in a Dream World”

2 min. read

Public policy is absolutely crucial to the future of the cleantech industry. However, many business leaders would prefer to just go about their business and largely ignore federal or state politics. In a fascinating, exclusive interview with Tigercomm President Mike Casey, former “super lobbyist” Jack Abramoff criticizes business leaders who think Washington doesn’t matter (see the video below):

“I think they are living in a dream world… the same sort of mindset occurred again with Google, with Facebook, people who basically are out there creating things, creating jobs, creating innovative and interesting technologies that make our lives easier. They can't imagine there are people in Washington who want control of that. They need to accommodate themselves to the reality if they're going to stay in business. So they therefore need to be smart. They need to be active. They need to be aggressive, and they need to make sure that they don't themselves get wiped out in this process.”

The American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) appears to understand how critical public policy is to the industry’s growth. AWEA writes that "energy is a policy-driven industry" and notes that the 29 states with renewable portfolio standards are driving clean energy into the market much faster than in states without these policies. In addition, the federal Production Tax Credit (PTC) has "proven to be the most effective policy to attract private capital and deploy wind technology in the U.S.," leading to "a 12-fold increase in domestic wind manufacturing" and attracting "over $15 billion of private investment" since 2007. On the flip side, losing the PTC fight in 2012 could have been devastating. Navigant Consulting anticipated that without the PTC extension, 37,000 wind industry jobs would have been lost in the first quarter of 2013.

But understanding the importance of public policy doesn’t mean the cleantech industry is successfully fending off the anti-clean energy lobbying efforts of fossil fuel interests. As Tigercomm President Mike Casey wrote in late 2010, the fossil fuel industry knows it's a "full-contact game" and is playing accordingly, including in the corridors of political power. The question today, as Casey notes in his introduction to this exclusive, is whether clean energy is ready to "play for keeps… because your opponents are." We believe cleantech leaders should listen to Abramoff and respond accordingly.

Check back on Monday for the next clip of our exclusive interview with Jack Abramoff, where he will discuss industries “playing offense” and “using the government to crush competitors” in Washington.

Topics: Public Affairs