The right argument on renewables

Transferring market incentives from hydrocarbons to renewables is national security, and it's sound economic policy. What excuse can there be for continuing to subsidize a failing sector?

I am a fan of Al Gore. I do not doubt global warming.

But the wrong arguments have been made on renewables all along.

The current Climate Bill is, in fact, a jobs bill.

Whatever you think of climate change the fact is we're subsidizing a market sector in hydrocarbons that is not growing, and not producing jobs.

Our Department of Energy still pays for oil and gas research. Corporate taxes are kept low in states with heavy concentrations of hydrocarbons. Energy companies still enjoy accelerated depreciation.

This despite decades of enormous profit, and increased efficiencies which mean that oil, gas and coal don't really create many jobs. And the cost of using hydrocarbons, pollution and habitat damage, are never accounted for at all.

In contrast, our economic rivals are passing all sorts of incentives for renewable development. China now leads in solar cell production. Germans have used market incentives to construct nearly 24,000 megawatts of wind power.

Energy for the Sun, from the wind, and from the tides is a growth industry. It increases the self-sufficiency of any country that uses these resources. It creates thousands of new jobs. So Germany's economy is recovering and China's is back to rocketing along, while we deal with unemployment over 10%.

Transferring market incentives from hydrocarbons to renewables is national security, and it's sound economic policy. What excuse can there be for continuing to subsidize a failing sector? Next you'll want to hand money to newspaper barons or the owners of soccer franchises.

Skeptics claim, using hacked e-mails, that all climate science is biased. So what if it is. Anyone think smoke is good for you? Anyone like having mercury in their groundwater? Is there any chance at all that this is good for you?

But ignore that for a moment. Ignore the picture of Mt. Kilmanjaro above, which is visibly losing its ice cap, meaning central Africa loses its last natural climate moderator. Forget that the Arctic Ice will be gone in 10 years, that the seas are visibly rising. Stick your fingers in your ears and go "na na na na" all day long.

What about our national security? What about our economic competitiveness? What about jobs?

Right now, in Auburn Hills, Michigan, in the shadow of the Silverdome that sold for less than a Manhattan apartment this week, a company called United Solar Ovonic is making flexible solar modules. It brought in $100 million last year.

You really think America should be investing in Sunoco instead?

Nothing against Sunoco. I went to college with its CEO. But tax law and market incentives represent investments in our economy.

I'd rather America had its money on Stan Ovshinsky, the CEO of United Solar. I think we'll get a better bang for our tax deferment buck with him. And with thousands of other entrepreneurs like him.

It doesn't matter whether we disagree on global warming. We're talking economics here. Lynn Elsenhans is a great lady, but as a taxpayer I'd rather have my money on Stan.

That's what the issue should be.

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com