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Obama’s Clean Energy Initiatives – We Need More Win!

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Obama's Clean Energy Initiatives - A Step in the Right Direction
Obama’s Clean Energy Initiatives – A Step in the Right Direction

In promoting a clean energy mix for the United States, in between zero-emissions vehicles, advanced rechargeable batteries, solar power and wind power initiatives, and implementing stricter emissions regulations across the board, it hasn’t been all “win.”

Understandably, many of the technologies may very well have been ahead of their time or just poorly planned or managed. For example, Fisker Automotive and A123 Systems seemed like a couple of good bets, and yet they failed, both filing for bankruptcy and “costing” the government millions of dollars. On the other hand, Tesla Motors was at one time billed as a failure, yet transformed into a plus-$33 billion company.

I recently found a list of green company “fails” which includes a number of companies, and the amounts that the US government gave them, about thirty in all. Among them are some companies we’ve covered here, such as SunPower, ECOtality, Fisker Automotive, A123 Systems, and Johnson Controls. Just how much “fail” are we talking about? Using my trusty desktop calculator, I came up with about $7.5 billion in unrecovered funds from Obama’s clean energy initiatives.

That’s a lot of clean energy “fail,” some would say, but how does that compare to long-standing fails in the rest of the energy sector, such as fossil fuel subsidies? According to the International Monetary Fund, worldwide fossil fuel subsidies, for 2015 alone, will amount to $5,300 billion dollars, United States’ fossil fuel subsidies constituting some $700 billion of that. Don’t forget to add in billions of dollars in health care savings and environmental cleanup costs, which are directly related to the extraction, refining, and use of fossil fuels.

It seems to me that we need to focus on the positive effects of Obama’s clean energy initiatives, and expand on them. True, there are failures in every single business, and we expect that. Funny how that doesn’t seem to matter when discussing the overall plan that Obama has put in motion.

Photo credit: Carl Nenzén Lovén / Foter / CC BY

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