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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