Neglect of clean energy hurts economy as well as environment

The lack of aggressive clean-energy policies at the federal level is taking its toll on the U.S. economy. As recently as a decade ago, U.S. companies claimed 50 percent of the market for solar photovoltaic panels, but now that number is down to 10 percent, with Japan and Europe dominating the world market. Likewise, Germany passed the U.S. as the primary source of wind-power technology a few years ago. Tax breaks and subsidies for wind and solar in the U.S. are extended a year at a time, leading some companies seeking predictability and stability to head overseas. Meantime, the Bush administration has funneled money to futuristic hydrogen technology without seriously upping spending on currently viable renewables, leaving the burgeoning wind and solar markets to other countries. The Union of Concerned Scientists estimates that if Kerry’s goal of getting 20 percent of U.S. electricity from renewables by 2020 were met, 355,000 new jobs would be created. And importing less oil would mean more favorable trade balances.