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Jigar Shah, Raj Pannu on Clean Energy as Quintessentially American - "can-do, right-now, yes ma’am"

2 min. read

For years, we've watched as the entrenched, increasingly antiquated, but politically-well-connected and heavily-subsidized dirty energy industry has attempted to slander wind, solar and other clean energy sources as...well, basically lame in every way.  One of the dirty energy folks' implicit themes has been that, somehow, fossil fuels are uniquely suited to fulfilling the American Dream, while clean energy is some sort of alien force that is inherently more suited to "socialist" Europe than to the "capitalist" United States. Of course, nothing could be further from the truth, which is why it's great to see articles like the one by Jigar Shah and Raj Pannu in Fortune on how green energy is, in fact, quintessentially "red, white and blue." Here are a few great lines that jumped out at us.

  • "American is can-do, right-now, yes ma’am."
  • "Unfortunately, the clean energy conversation is profoundly and unnecessarily polarizing," one that's "become part of a larger culture war that fits neatly into the media’s all too predictable tendency of false equivalence."
  • "So what’s the real story? The solar industry is raising and deploying over $20 billion every year in the United States and has created one out of every 80 jobs since the financial crisis. It’s bringing people out of the economic devastation of the home building industry and into gainful employment, with meaningful careers that involve building, making, and creating. Wind energy will reach 5% of total electricity in the U.S. next year."
  • "We need to change the conversation to align with the deep emotional and aspirational narratives that speak to the American public. Clean energy could feel as all-American, cutting-edge, rugged, reliable, resilient, and tough as fracking. The same American ideals of independence, freedom, self-sufficiency, and opportunity can bring together green advocates and Tea Party stalwarts, labor and entrepreneurs, main street and Wall Street."

The bottom line, according to Shah and Pannu - and we couldn't agree more - is that clean energy technology is the epitome of what makes America great. That includes cutting-edge technological innovation, a relentless drive to be more competitive (note that solar and wind increasingly are not just the cleanest, but also the least costly, forms of energy), and a sharp eye for tremendous investment and business opportunities for decades to come. Clean technology fits all those criteria, which in turn makes the United States the country you'd most expect to lead the way in this burgeoning industry.

To an extent, of course, that's already the case. But ironically, for a country which prides itself on its embrace of market forces, it's government policy - kept in place largely by politicians who receive large campaign contributions from the dirty energy industry -  overriding the free market and tilting the playing field in favor of fossil fuels, which has slowed the (inevitable) adoption of clean energy in our country. Today, it's time for those politicians to get out of the way, remove the massive implicit and explicit subsidies from the fossil fuel industry, and let it compete mano a mano with "rugged, resilient, and tough" solar and wind. That's a battle we're confident we can win.

Topics: Public Affairs