One day after Obama announced his “Cash for Caulkers” energy efficiency program, a group of senators is trying to block government-funded, international renewable energy projects. In a letter to be read at a news conference today, the group of Democratic officials argue that financing renewables overseas under the Recovery Act runs counter to the economic stimulus plan’s goal: to create and preserve American jobs.
Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Sen. Robert Casey (D-PA) and Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT) wrote to Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner requesting a moratorium on overseas stimulus spending. The group hopes that if the moratorium is put in place, it will stay that way until legislation can be passed which mandates that Recovery Act funds are spent on American soil.
We’re all for national job creation, but the senators’ logic is shortsighted. By limiting renewable energy financing to the US alone, we’d kill valuable opportunities to create international renewable energy partnerships. For example, an announcement last fall established a joint venture with China’s Shenyang Power Group, Texas’ Cielo Wind Power and a private equity firm. The group hopes to build a $1.5 billion Texas wind energy project. While the turbines would come from China, American workers would install the turbines and establish the farm on American soil. Scary to think what would happen to projects like this if they weren’t eligible for government funding.
Economics aside, combating climate change needs to be a global effort. Excluding international partnerships from US stimulus funds would not only end some great renewable energy projects, it would hinder important global climate change dialogue.
Via Associated Press