The core of my plan would be to jumpstart the market for renewable energy technologies by requiring the federal government to generate all the power it uses through renewable technologies within the next five years.
With over 400,000 buildings and over 630,000 vehicles, the federal government is a major user of energy in our country. If we can free this part of our economy from foreign oil, then the entire nation will have a model to follow.
Proven technologies already exist to free the nation from dependence on foreign oil, but the key challenge is creating enough economies of scale to make renewable energy competitive with fossil fuels. The federal investment in freeing us from dependence on foreign oil would drive down the price of existing technologies like hydrogen fuel cells, solar and wind power to the point that the other sectors of the economy would follow.
We can’t tell private business they should invest in renewable energy without doing so ourselves. Let’s harness the power of government investment to make renewables the least expensive alternative.
The initial federal investment of $100 billion would ultimately pay for itself through cost savings on federal energy expenditures, but the economic, environmental and security benefits would be exponentially greater.
Global warming is real – and we need to start investing a relatively small amount now to avoid a catastrophic loss to our economy and our environment in the future.
The time frame of five years is completely realistic given the current technology and dual threats of global warming and American dependence on foreign oil. What we call the Greatest Generation went from Pearl Harbor to victory in World War II in less than four years. A united nation can meet the threats facing our generation within a similar time frame.
American government investment in technology has been the launching pad for many green technologies, including photovoltaic cells that were developed in their current form by the US space program.
By providing a boost to American-made renewable energy technologies, we would help create tens of thousands of jobs in the emerging “green technology” sector and make sure America becomes a global leader in this growing market.
The most important immediate benefit of this program would be to make our country more secure. Our oil purchases support states like Iran, who wish us harm. This makes no sense – and it must end.
I have been a strong advocate for alternative energy, particularly the hydrogen fuel cell industry that is centered in Massachusetts for many years now.
Hydrogen fuel cells are a clean, renewable and proven technology. They are already in use throughout the world – saving energy and protecting our environment. We need to use this locally-generated technology to help free ourselves from dependency on foreign oil.
Hydrogen fuel cells are already widely installed in some countries. For example, In Japan homeowners and commercial property owners using Hydrogen Fuel cells have dramatically reduced their utility bills.
Fuel cells have a distinct advantage over alternative fuels such as solar and wind power in that their ability to produce energy does not depend on constantly shifting environmental factors – as long as the cells are supplied with hydrogen, they will produce a continuous stream of energy. This high reliability renders fuel cells well suited for supporting critical loads or emergency applications. In addition to their high reliability, fuel cells are practically silent, can be installed in rural locations that would under other circumstances have no power or have to be connected to the grid at taxpayer expense, and emit only water into the atmosphere. They also have fewer moving parts than other energy producing systems, leading to a decreased risk of mechanical breakdown and loss of power.
On Beacon Hill, I worked to introduce the “Massachusetts Renewable Energy Road Map,” a package of policy ideas designed to invigorate our economy and protect the environment with research-and-development grants and tax incentives for Massachusetts companies developing fuel-cell technology. The legislation also creates a $1,500 state tax credit for consumers who purchase hybrid vehicles.
In Congress, the Finegold Federal Energy Independence Act will be the first of many pieces of bold legislation that I will introduce to wake up Washington to new ways of addressing the pressing problems facing America and the world. “We can’t shape a better future relying on the timid politics of the past. It is time for bold thinking and big solutions. And I will bring both to Washington.”