The People of America's Oil and Natural Gas Indusry

Making Clean Energy 'Profitable' - At Whose Expense?

Jane Van Ryan

Jane Van Ryan
Posted June 30, 2010

Members of the U.S. Senate met with President Obama at the White House Tuesday to discuss next steps for energy and climate legislation. In a statement, the White House called the meeting "constructive" and released information about the president's comments:

"The President told the Senators that he still believes the best way for us to transition to a clean energy economy is with a bill that makes clean energy the profitable kind of energy for America's businesses by putting a price on pollution - because when companies pollute, they should be responsible for the costs to the environment and their contribution to climate change."

Notice that the stated strategy is to make clean energy profitable. This statement acknowledges that "clean energy" isn't profitable now. The fact is that so-called "green" energy is more expensive than fossil fuels and has to be subsidized heavily or receive special treatment to be competitive.

Second, barring a huge scientific breakthrough, the only way to make clean energy more profitable is for the government to make fossil fuels more expensive. And who would have to foot the bill? Everyone in America from the single parent with two kids, to the small businessman with a flower shop, to the Fortune 500 corporation employing thousands of workers.

Furthermore, although the White House is accusing "companies" of polluting, that's just a political ploy to funnel voters' anger toward a particular target-- in this case, Big Business. Everyone is a polluter simply by existing on this earth.

If the goal of energy/climate legislation is to force a transition to a clean energy economy before practical alternatives are ready, the costs could be enormous for each American individually and the entire economy.

Energy is vital. Any energy policy changes have to be made thoughtfully to protect consumers, jobs, and the economy.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jane Van Ryan was formerly senior communications manager and new media advisor at the American Petroleum Institute (API), where she wrote blog posts and produced podcasts and videos. Before coming to API, Jane managed communications for a large science and engineering corporation, and for a top-tier research and engineering university. A few years ago, you might have seen her in your living room when she delivered the news on television. Jane officially retired from API in 2011 and now freelances as an independent communications consultant when not gardening at her farm in Virginia.