Views and debates on climate change policy
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Ian Bowles
State Secretary, Energy & Environment Affairs

Ian Bowles

Ian Bowles is the Massachusetts secretary of energy and environmental affairs. Previously, he served as associate director of the White House Council on Environmental Quality during the Clinton administration. ALL POSTS

Economic opportunity

We are seeing economic competitors to the United States moving aggressively into clean energy -- seeing the opportunity to capture manufacturing of advanced batteries (Korea and others), solar panels (China, Malaysia and others), wind power components and many more core technologies. We need a much more aggressive federal policy if we are to capture some of these opportunities.

For states like Massachusetts, the federal legislation on renewable energy, energy efficiency and greenhouse gas emissions from power plants is unlikely to have a significant impact here for a decade or more largely because state policies in our region are well ahead of new proposed federal mandates. That said, economic policies to create jobs in clean energy are largely being set as a competition between states (and much of energy policy is regulated also at the state level). Having settled federal minimum requirements on building codes and energy efficiency will help us run a much more energy efficient economy and save money for ratepayers while we curb GHG emissions.

Putting in place minimum federal standards for renewable power will open up new markets and create jobs. However, I think the federal debate needs to look more closely at the economic development policies of our competitor nations around manufacturing for clean energy technologies -- right now, its a missing part of the debate and shouldn't be a partisan issue.

As to the politics, most of our gains (including utility restructuring under a Republican Governor -- as well as major clean energy reforms under Governor Patrick) in Massachusetts have been done on a bipartisan basis. Yes, we still have some well worn debates between environmental advocates and business interests, but both sides have come together around a $1.6 billion energy efficiency package (3 times California's efforts per capita) and see the pure savings arguments for these investments. My sense if the debate at the national level has turned into a scrum of industry interests and some of the core, nonpartisan benefits of restructuring our energy markets have been lost.

The question of significant clean energy reforms and GHG reduction incentives at the national level is about when, not whether. So, just saying no -- in the face of clear science and substantial and bipartisan state-level experience -- seems like a strategy to get ever further outside the mainstream of national opinion and relevant experience.

By Ian Bowles  |  November 5, 2009; 6:51 AM ET Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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It takes more polluting energy to create green technology and transport all the parts around the world. It would not reduce the cost of energy, it would only change who was paid for it. Most people, especially in a financial crisis will not be able to afford the new technologies. The plan is well-intentioned, but has no positive affect.

The surest, easiest, quickest, fairest, most beautiful and least expensive solution is to turn from the employment lifestyle that is destroying the air, land, water and food making the people and the earth diseased. We can solve the world problems at the same time we turn to a garden paradise lifestyle with trees, plants and pets that provide fresh food around us. It is the only sustainable solution. It will be an answer to the expected extinction of humanity and a joy in ending the oppression and stress of the employment lifestyle. It is a solution that ends the controversy. It obviously will work; the only question is, Are we ready to retire?

Posted by: MarieDevine | November 9, 2009 10:22 PM
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You're making a ridiculous argument. Adding a huge tax burden to existing energy will not make American companies produce high-tech "green energy" technology.

This has more to do with your hopes and dreams and less to do with realty. It's like you want to believe so badly that it must be true.

Posted by: Ombudsman1 | November 8, 2009 11:54 PM
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Vestas has its origins as a US company that was sold at bargain-basement prices to the Norwegians when Jimmy Carter's (D-GA) tax supports were withdrawn under Ronnie "Ray-guns" Reagan (R-CA)! Hmmm!

Oh, never never mind, history is a poor teacher!

Posted by: fr3dmars | November 7, 2009 11:45 PM
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One of the fastest growing employers here in Colorado recently has been Vestas, a Danish wind energy manufacturer. I am thankful for these high-tech, lucrative jobs. It saddens me though that the US is dependent on "foreign brains" for innovation.

It is unfortunate that common-sense ideas like sustainability, efficiency, a non-poisonous environment, and innovation have become politically polarized by the GOP. Even if you think climate change is not happening, most of the climate change strategies are good economic and social ideas all on their own.

Posted by: outragex | November 7, 2009 12:07 PM
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We don't learn. The Chinese made toys back in the 60's. Americans purchased them. 2009, Chinese make solar products, we can purchase that as well. Americans have no jobs. We don't make toys nor solar products. Moral...let's debate and see which polictical party has to gain or lose.

Posted by: golfly4 | November 7, 2009 6:50 AM
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