Originally posted at the NDN Blog.

The failure of the Senate to obtain cloture on the Solar Investment Tax Credit — coming on the heels of the collapse of climate change legislation last Friday — should send a wake up call to the environment and clean technology communities that a new more forceful strategy is needed to make progress on climate change and energy independence.

At a moment when the U.S. economy is suffering from the effects of a full blown oil shock, when the United States is fighting a hot war in the Middle East in part to protect access to oil in a volatile region, and when much of the domestic news consists of extreme weather reports — from floods in the Midwest to school closings in the east due to dangerous temperatures though it is not yet summer — it is hard to fathom the lack of leadership on energy issues coming out of Washington.

On top of our other challenges, America faces soaring electricity prices over the next 18 months as the prices of natural gas and even coal continue to rise and slack capacity evaporates. Renewable energy such as solar is currently the only energy category for which the cost is declining. However, to bring the cost of renewables below that of legacy technologies, it is critical that solar be allowed to scale.

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The delay in renewing the Solar ITC has already caused American solar companies to lay off workers and postpone or cancel projects. The Senate and House have both passed versions of the Solar ITC, but as Rhone Resch of the Solar Energy Industries Association has remarked, they need to find a version that both can support. In coming weeks, NDN will be releasing a paper on the solar industry, and we are going to be working to create a policy environment supportive of this key piece of America’s future.