US Democrats call for better government investment in renewables

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Investing in renewable energy is not only good for the environment but may also prove to be an economic boon, according to one US politician. The economic argument, argued Congressman Peter Welch yesterday, may be more persuasive than attempting to persuade sceptics of climate change.

Welch was speaking on Democracy Now about a bill to increase transparency for the U.S.’s intelligence agencies. As part of Democracy Now‘s current focus on the issue of climate change, anchor and executive producer Amy Goodman asked Welch about the subject, given that his home state of Vermont had suffered adverse weather in recent months.

Welch responded, saying that taking on the challenge of climate change was not only good for the environment but also created jobs. He added, “This is the one area where there is some bipartisan hope in Congress. I’m not going to win any arguments, I’m not going to persuade any of my colleagues that don’t believe in the science of climate change, that it exists. But a lot of my colleague do agree on efficiency that if you can use less fuel, no matter the fuel source, you’re going to save money, create jobs by retro-fitting homes and building. That’s a promising area where we can do something good for the environment and also build the economy. But the real dilemma here is that the folks who are so against climate change as a challenge that we have to face, I think the possibility that in taking on that challenge and creating a strong economy eludes them. That is what we have to do because the middle-class is getting squeezed, they need jobs and we need to find a way to build our infrastructure and having a stronger energy policy that can help create jobs and increase wages.”

Welch’s comments come five days after former President Bill Clinton met with Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti for a half-day conference on alternative energy and infrastructure improvements. The conference was hosted in part by the Clinton Global Initiative. Clinton, The Los Angeles Daily News reported, was “frustrated by the lack of available financing for alternative-energy projects such as solar, while coal plants can more easily obtain funding”.

The paper quoted Clinton as saying, “The financing mechanisms of America […] and the distribution of political power are organised for protecting yesterday instead of creating tomorrow.”

Mayor Garcetti, whose opponent Clinton endorsed in the recent election, spoke about the city’s move towards solar and other renewables. The LA Fire Department, he said, was also looking at solar in case of a disaster leaving traditional power unusable.

Quoted in The Los Angeles Times, Garcetti said to Clinton, “What are we going to do when the Big One hits? In 1994, when you came out here and you helped save this city after that earthquake, remember the Internet just started getting used a few months after that, and almost nobody had a cellphone. Today, we think we’re going to talk to each other by sending texts and emails? That may be gone."

Garcetti also spoke about the Los Angles streetlight program, prompted by the Clinton Global initiative that converted 144,000 lamps to using environmentally-friendly bulbs, the result of which was a reduction in the city’s electric bill of 63%.