“There’s Gold in Those Windmills.”

From The Seattle Times, a scathing editorial on the US government’s mercurial support of renewable energy technologies.

They’re putting up another wind farm near Walla Walla, in Washington state. The towers are coming from Korea, Vietnam and Canada. The turbines, blades and other parts were made in Denmark.

What are Americans doing? They’re taking the stuff other people make off of boats and trucking them to the wind farm. Americans might have been manufacturing these windmills, were their national leaders not so wrapped up in the needs of oilmen.

These are gold-rush days for renewable-energy manufacturing, but Washington, D.C., has done little to keep it on American soil. Our lawmakers are blind to the possibilities. Worse, when it comes to policy, they’re kings of chaos.

Vestas Wind Technology, the giant Danish maker of wind turbines, considered building a plant in southwestern Washington, or across the border in Portland, Ore. But Congress failed to extend a tax credit for wind-generated power, and Vestas dropped the idea. Its plant would have made the region a center for renewable energy. It could have created 1,000 good-paying jobs. Would have, could have.

We can (and probably should) argue about the wisdom of subsidies in general, but that’s not really the issue when our new energy bill contains $9 billion in subsidies for fossil fuels in a time when oil companies are raking in record profits, while renewables received a mere $3 billion. The government’s on-again, off-again support of wind and solar technologies is knee-capping industries that could create permanent, good-paying manufacturing jobs. These jobs, like so many others, are moving overseas to Germany and Japan, countries that offer more substantial and and stable support. This isn’t about ideology or treehugging: it’s a simple matter of economics. Writer Froma Harrop offers some hope by observing “If the threats of surging oil prices and global warming don’t get through the thick skulls in Congress, perhaps the prospect of Americans making serious money through these emerging technologies will.” So far, though, our fearless leaders in Washington seem too tied up in their normally narrow view of energy production to recognize this golden opportunity…

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