Last week, the annual green energy conference convened in Las Vegas to discuss expanding renewable energy efforts in the U.S. Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar opened the discussion with the announcement that a 12-square-mile wind energy farm in White Pine County, a rural county located in Nevada, will begin producing electricity.
Thus far, U.S. renewable energy efforts have fallen behind those of other countries. Former President Bill Clinton closed out the discussion last Tuesday, recalling the loss of Senate support for the 1997 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. As a result, the U.S. never ratified the treaty that aimed at cutting greenhouse gas in the atmosphere. Clinton noted that in order to make any progress there must be “a bias toward action, a bias for cooperation and a bias toward thinking big.”
Interior Secretary Salazar, during his morning speech to nearly 700 people, said that we need to realize this is an “American issue,” not a “Republican or Democratic issue.” He pointed out that national security, economic security, and our environmental security are all American issues that everyone should stand behind if we’re aiming to make any positive progress.
It’s difficult to separate politics from the debate, especially when President Obama and Republican candidate Romney have differing views on how we should address domestic energy production.
Obama is a strong supporter of renewable energy, and Romney supports reducing obstacles to traditional energy development such as coal and natural gas. Romney is also a vocal supporter of opening up the Atlantic and Pacific outer continental shelves to drilling. Republicans continue to point fingers at the Obama administration for granting more than $500 million in federal stimulus loan guarantees to Solyndra Inc. for a solar power project in California. The venture declared bankruptcy last September.
On Tuesday, the Obama administration announced that seven solar and wind energy projects will be fast-tracked in Arizona, California, Nevada and Wyoming. The projections estimate that these projects could produce nearly 5,000 megawatts, which is enough energy to power roughly 1.5 million homes.
Senate Majority Leader Reid told reporters that he was confident that a measure to extend the tax credit for wind energy will pass before the end of the year.