Rep. Paul Broun (R-Ga.) is continuing his effort to limit the scope and spending of a solar technology bill headed to the House floor today with an amendment that would limit the length of the program and cut its funding levels.

Broun has proposed a new amendment to H.R. 3585 that would provide $750 million to the program over three years rather than $2.5 billion over five.

Grist thanks its sponsors. Become one.

Today’s story by E&E News (subs. req’d) underscores precisely why so many clean energy technologies are “Invented here, sold there” as Tom Friedman put it.

The United States created the solar cell industry and literally launched it into space 50 years ago.   And, yes, solar PV is going to be one of the largest job-creating industries of the century, projected to grow “from a $20 billion industry in 2007 to $74 billion by 2017.”

Back in the June debate over the climate bill, Broun received applause on the House floor for calling global warming a ‘hoax’, asserting:

Grist thanks its sponsors. Become one.

Scientists all over this world say that the idea of human induced global climate change is one of the greatest hoaxes perpetrated out of the scientific community. It is a hoax. There is no scientific consensus.

That is, of course, nonsense, as yesterday’s letter to Senators by 18 leading scientific organizations makes clear.

But while conservatives work hard to kill the clean air, clean water, clean energy jobs bill that is America’s only real hope of remaining globally competitive, the rest of the world eats our lunch, a lunch we were kind enough to cook for them using on our own no-longer-secret recipe (see “China begins transition to a clean-energy economy” and “Why other countries kick our butt on clean energy: A primer“).

Sadly, whenever conservatives have the presidency or control of Congress, they have gutted or blocked funding for clean energy:


  • President Reagan gutted Jimmy Carter’s renewable energy program (see “Who got us in this energy mess? Start with Ronald Reagan“).
  • Newt Gingrich blocked President Clinton’s effort to boost funding for solar PV research and deployment programs.
  • Conservatives in general like John McCain and George Bush and Judd Gregg opposed the kind of funding and incentives that countries like Japan and Germany embraced.

But don’t get all friggin’ sentimental on me. Think of the few billion dollars U.S. taxpayers saved!

The fundamental tenets of conservative ideology say that if countries like China and Taiwan and Spain make most of the PV cells, it must be because they have an inherent “comparative” advantage over us. You gotta start reading your Ricardo, people.

Any card-carrying conservative knows that if other countries manage to get millions of their workers’ hands dirty actually making stuff, it’s only because they are better at it. We’re still the brainiacs who invent the technologies first and then wisely save a few pennies of the taxpayer dollars not promoting American technologies into billion-dollar American industries. We’ve still got all those Internet-related jobs, and it’s not like the government had anything to do with that.

So please, all you progressives and enviros out there, stop your whining. The plan is unfolding as it should, indeed as it must. Do not argue with the invisible hand. People will think you’re crazy.  Or at least conservatives will.

Back to Broun:

The bill, introduced by Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) and slated for debate on the House floor today, would direct the Energy Department to appoint a team of experts — a solar roadmap committee — to craft a long-term solar energy research plan for its transition into commercial use. The committee would direct DOE on spending 75 percent of the $2.5 billion slated for fiscal 2010 to 2015.

But Broun and other Republicans have balked at the price tag.

“It’s time we recognize the simple fact that we don’t have all the money for all the things we would like to do,” Broun said during a Science and Technology Committee markup of the bill earlier this month.

Broun opposed the bill during the committee markup, proposing an amendment that would provide the research bill $600 million over three years. That amendment failed along party lines.

Broun is continuing his effort to limit the program with his new amendment. An aide said the funding level has been increased from $200 million per year to $250 million per year in the current amendment because solar programs received $225 million in the fiscal 2010 energy and water appropriations conference report.

Thankfully, the green FDR is President and progressives lead both houses of Congress.

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