Getting Down to Business – Renewable Energy Business !

Seth Kaplan

Stateline, the excellent online news service of the Pew Center on the States reports on the continuing interest and efforts to develop renewable energy across the nation, even where Republican governors face pressure to change course because of misconceptions that renewable energy efforts are based solely on an environmental agenda.

The article opens with the story of how the new Governor of Ohio backed down from a threatened effort to roll back an important renewable energy effort when it became clear that renewable energy, and wind energy in particular, enjoyed broad support across the state and was a bright spot in the economy during a very tough time.  It goes on to discuss the issue more generally discussing the progress continuing on clean energy in the states despite the failure of climate and energy legislation in Washington and then telling the tale of Kansas, how an anti-cap and trade Senator Sam Brownback is changing into pro-Clean Energy Governor Brownback:

With cap-and-trade off the table in Washington, and with 29 states either run by or about to be run by Republican governors, the prospects for legislation aimed explicitly at reducing greenhouse-gas emissions are not bright, at least in the near term. Shifting to cleaner forms of energy, however, is another matter. It’s just that saving the environment won’t be the driving thrust. Creating jobs will.

“The opportunities to grow new industries in business are relatively rare right now, and the clean-energy economy’s got a lot going for it from an economic development viewpoint,” says Seth Kaplan, of the Conservation Law Foundation. “There’s the number of jobs, but also the breadth: from university researchers doing basic research into the next generation of LEDs, thin-film solar or wind-turbine designs, to the blue-collar jobs, which are hard to come by these days. So Republican governors are trying to figure out how to position themselves between two poles: ideological opposition to anything with ‘climate’ on the label, and the economic development opportunity presented by the clean-energy economy.”

So it is that New Jersey’s Governor Chris Christie, under pressure from conservatives, began saying in November that he was “skeptical” about climate change — yet has shown no inclination to withdraw his state from the Northeast’s Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative and remains a strong backer of developing offshore wind power. Some of the most concerted wind-energy development in the country has occurred in Texas — and especially in the Republican strongholds of West Texas — thanks to policies enacted under the leadership of Republican Governor Rick Perry. Sam Brownback, who is moving from the U.S. Senate to the Kansas governor’s mansion, opposed federal cap-and-trade legislation in the Senate but joined with Democratic senators in September to back creating a national renewable energy standard for power plants.

“Sam is very much on record as wanting Kansas to be a national leader on wind, he’s been active on how to facilitate new transmission, he’s been committed to bioenergy,” says Nancy Jackson, who chairs the Climate and Energy Project, an effort to persuade Kansans to embrace renewable energy and energy efficiency. “I feel really good about how this administration will line up on energy issues.”

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