As originally published on September 25th in The Hill
By Charles Hernick, Lisa Jacobson, and Dylan Reed
The national debate on energy has hit a turning point. This week, dozens of clean energy companies and trade associations have come together in a new way to show the power of clean energy to our economy.
The inaugural celebration of National Clean Energy Week is dedicated to advancing support for our nation’s energy sector through increased collaboration between leaders in government and industry.
America’s clean energy sector is growing several times faster than the national economy and is producing more than a third of America’s energy. In fact, some states, such as Washington, Illinois, South Carolina, New Hampshire and Vermont count on these sources for more than half of their energy needs.
The clean energy sector supports more than 3 million workers across all 50 states. All told, the sector represents a $200 billion industry; and it’s growing larger every day.
Public support for clean energy across ideological boundaries has also grown over the past few years. According to a recent poll sponsored by the Citizens for Responsible Energy Solutions Forum, 75 percent of voters now favor the federal government playing a role in the advancement of newer, cleaner, and more reliable energy sources.
And this support is bipartisan; a solid majority of Republicans favor taking steps to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases, including 65 percent of young Republicans. Clean energy has transcended partisan politics.
Even though clean energy is now firmly regarded as part of our nation’s “all of the above” approach, public awareness of specific achievements remains low, and funding for research, development and deployment of next-generation faces steep budget cuts.
The clean energy market landscape has evolved rapidly over the last decade. Clean energy companies now compete in mature markets for finite market-share. And emerging technologies in clean energy may be America’s next comparative advantage for export to the world.
National Clean Energy Week, a non-partisan effort to highlight the benefits of clean energy led by 13 national trade associations, business councils, and clean energy advocacy groups. Hundreds of organizations will participate through positive messaging and events across the country for policy makers, industry leaders, and concerned citizens to share and learn about the latest in clean energy.
It remains true that aspects of energy and environmental policy generate strong opinions on all sides — and that’s fine. Like the rest of America, the NCEW Steering Committee enjoys a diversity of perspectives. But we stand united on the issue of advancing clean energy solutions to provide America with a path forward that strengthens our national security, grows our economy, and protects our environment.
National Clean Energy Week has now arrived at a critical moment. Congress is debating tax reform, and it is important that the technology, science, and research driving energy innovation is not lost in the shuffle.
The Department of Energy and our nation’s laboratories must be appropriately funded so it can work effectively with the private sector to keep up the rapid pace of development of clean energy resources and maintain America’s technological edge and global competitiveness.
Our capacity for safe and reliable energy generation from clean sources is driving an energy renaissance that is creating jobs, strengthening our national security capabilities, and preserving the quality of our natural environment.
We are proud to support National Clean Energy Week as an opportunity to recognize recent progress, highlight our potential, and promote the further proliferation of these innovations that are powering American forward.
Charles Hernick, Director of Policy and Advocacy, Citizens for Responsible Energy Solutions Forum. Lisa Jacobson, President, Business Council for Sustainable Energy. Dylan Reed, Senior Associate, Federal and State Policy, Advanced Energy Economy.