But the prescription shouldn’t end there, he said, ticking off a list of stimulus grants and other expensive federal investments that support projects such as coal gasification projects, carbon sequestration and the country’s first liquid coal facility.
“This country is continuing to finance coal projects,” he said. “Obama isn’t calling them subsidies but they clearly are. Coal is not going to be clean no matter what you do.”
Hope Amidst the Frustration
“The American people need to make it clear to Congress they are concerned about our fiscal situation,” Schreiber said. “They need to tell them that we can’t give billons of dollars to corporations until we get rid of this debt.”
Kretzmann is rooting for leaders in Congress to make cutting subsidies to fossil fuels a priority soon.
“Unlike greenhouse gas emissions, this one plays well in the polls,” he said. “People don’t like the idea of their money going toward the most profitable industry in the country. This one is a winner for whomever wants to take it up. The job is open right now.”
Goldwyn, the energy specialist with the State Department, called for calm as the debate proceeds. He emphasized that it is destructive when opponents and proponents of particular energy decisions malign one another.
“As we try to strike this balance between energy and the environment, I would ask to approach this with humility,” he said. “Transformation of our energy use to low carbon is going to take a long time. If we don’t begin that transformation now, we’re never going to get there.”
Goldwyn is well aware that back-and-forths over “cleaner” and “cleanest” energy sources can turn ugly.
His advice to all involved?
“Keep an open mind, a patient ear and a civil tongue.”
(White House Photo by Pete Souza; Infographic by Tommy McCall, courtesy Environmental Law Institute)