NPI's Cascadia Advocate

Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Sunday, September 9th, 2012

Republicans mock Jay Inslee for supporting companies that are succeeding

Con­tin­u­ing to posi­tion them­selves as the unapolo­getic oppo­nents of any pol­i­cy direc­tion with the word “clean” in it (clean ener­gy, clean elec­tions), the Repub­li­can Par­ty has nee­dled Democr­tic guber­na­to­r­i­al can­di­date Jay Inslee for envi­sion­ing a clean ener­gy econ­o­my for Wash­ing­ton and for sup­port­ing clean ener­gy in his 2008 book, Apol­lo’s Fire. Accord­ing to them, every eco-friend­ly com­pa­ny Inslee sin­gled out in his book has failed.

It just so hap­pens, how­ev­er (big sur­prise here!) that it’s just not true. Today, the Seat­tle Times ran an arti­cle exam­in­ing Repub­li­cans’ criticism:

“Through­out the book, Inslee high­lights sev­er­al dif­fer­ent green-ener­gy com­pa­nies (each depen­dent on tax­pay­er sub­si­dies) as evi­dence of how he believes green ener­gy can ‘work’ for com­mu­ni­ties,” the Repub­li­can Par­ty’s com­mu­ni­ca­tions direc­tor, Mered­ith Ken­ny, wrote in one of a series of emails attack­ing the book. “Only prob­lem is that each of these com­pa­nies has since failed or is tee­ter­ing on the brink.”

Actu­al­ly, there’s anoth­er prob­lem: Not all of the five com­pa­nies Ken­ny calls into ques­tion are fail­ing or teetering.

It turns out two are doing just fine, and one’s fac­ing trou­ble because their fed­er­al fund­ing been cut. When an indus­try is in its infan­cy, it’s not uncom­mon to see star­tups fail. That makes pub­lic sec­tor sup­port even more impor­tant for indus­tries we val­ue as a soci­ety. Despite attacks intend­ed to shift pub­lic opin­ion against clean ener­gy, eighty-three per­cent of Amer­i­cans sup­port the devel­op­ment of renew­able ener­gy. Through­out our his­to­ry, we’ve seen impor­tant indus­tries get start­ed with pub­lic sec­tor sup­port and then grow into Amer­i­can suc­cess sto­ries. Clean ener­gy star­tups have the poten­tial to simul­ta­ne­ous­ly improve our eco­nom­ic secu­ri­ty and reduce our envi­ron­men­tal footprint.

Besides, it’s not like the gov­ern­ment isn’t already “pick­ing win­ners and losers”. Repub­li­cans, includ­ing Rob McKen­na, often use this line to excuse their unwill­ing­ness to do any­thing sub­stan­tial to help pro­pel us towards a green ener­gy rev­o­lu­tion. Oil and gas com­pa­nies receive about $41 bil­lion annu­al­ly in sub­si­dies from the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment. Dif­fer­ent esti­mates exist on the exact cost of our oil con­sump­tion, with some esti­mates includ­ing the costs of pro­tect­ing our oil trans­port sys­tem. Pres­i­dent Oba­ma has called to end some of these sub­si­dies, but with the cur­rent Con­gress, it’s unlike­ly any­thing will happen.

Ener­gy is some­thing all firms and house­holds needs. Ener­gy pow­ers our homes, our busi­ness­es, and keeps the econ­o­my mov­ing. Tran­si­tion­ing to renew­able ener­gy will help our soci­ety, reduce our depen­dence on for­eign oil, cre­ate jobs, and posi­tion the U.S. for a sus­tain­able future. We have a stake in mak­ing sure that this tran­si­tion hap­pens. In the future though, we should be able to hope that the win­ner isn’t a holdover from the pre­vi­ous century.

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