Cliff Stearns (R-FL) is the Chair of the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations – and he believes we’re just not going to make it in this clean energy race. Yesterday Congressman Stearns told NPR, “We can’t compete with China to make solar panels and wind turbines.” That’s a bit of a disconcerting statement coming from the man who is in charge of the committee that is meant to oversee all of the U.S. government funded agencies, departments, and programs which deal with making solar panels and wind turbines.
Echoing exactly the opposite sentiment, Secretary of Energy Steven Chu spoke to a group of young solar innovators over the weekend saying, “The United States faces a choice today: Will we sit on the sidelines and fall behind or will we play to win the clean energy race? Some say this is a race America can’t win. They’re ready to wave the white flag and declare defeat… Others say this is a race America shouldn’t even be in. They say we can’t afford to invest in clean energy. I say we can’t afford not to.” Chu has been championing the clean energy sector throughout his time at the Energy post. “It’s not enough for our country to invent clean energy technologies – we have to make them and use them too. Invented in America, made in America, and sold around the world – that’s how we’ll create good jobs and lead in the 21st century.”
Collectively the solar panel manufacturing industry and the wind turbine manufacturing industry employ 175,000 workers in the United States. The International Energy Agency says that in the coming years solar power will supply over 20% of the world’s energy and with that growth the green job sector can only get larger. In a study released last month it was revealed that though there is intense competition worldwide the US remains the biggest exporter of solar technology — a total of $5.6 billion in exports. With trillions of dollars set to be gained by the country that claims the lead in the clean energy race and with the United States already gaining momentum in the sector, why are we trusting a defeatist like Cliff Stearns (pictured in above photo on the left) to oversee our clean energy agencies, departments, and programs. In order to succeed, clean energy needs cheerleaders in government positions, not elected officials willing to throw in the towel.