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Google.org Calls on U.S. Congress to Support Renewable Energy

March 05, 2008 By: Peter Smith Category: Uncategorized

Google.org is the non-profit arm of Google.com. Yesterday, they let Congress know that the various tax credits in place to continue to support renewable energy were important to Google, and to the world:

Yesterday Google.org, along with representatives from the business and venture capital community, called on the U.S. Congress and the Bush Administration to work together to quickly approve extensions of the Production Tax Credit (PTC) and Investment Tax Credit (ITC). The PTC and the ITC are tax incentives designed to spur the market for renewable energy and are critical to financing a new renewable energy generation. The credits are currently scheduled to expire on December 31, 2008.

Speaking at a news conference at the Washington International Renewable Energy Conference, Dan Reicher, Google.org‘s Director of Climate Change and Energy Initiatives, said: “We are at the dawn of a green energy revolution that could fundamentally reshape the way the world generates energy. It is critical that we get the policy right in order to drive investment in clean energy and push these technologies out of the lab and into the mainstream. Policy makers can make or break this revolution.”

If you’re not up on this green energy tax credit stuff - it’s very important. The interesting aspect is that renewable energy companies need to know now whether these tax credits will be in place next year so they can get busy planning for financing, construction, etc. If they can’t plan new projects - there won’t be new projects - it’s that simple. Google.org goes on to quote some facts and figures about jobs and so on. So, importantly, even a significant delay in re-authorizing these tax credits (subsidies) can greatly harm renewable energy initiatives.

If you don’t like the idea of subsidies, in general, then you should probably not be crazy about the $65 Billion in subsidies the U.S. government gives out to various U.S. industries every year. The best figures I’ve seen for the ‘Oil and Gas’ industry, for example, go about $5 Billion or $6 Billion a year. There’s ‘Ethanol’ - about $7 Billion or so, last time I checked. The list goes on. I couldn’t find one perfect source to cite, but these numbers seem to comport with what folks all across the political spectrum are saying - the Public Policy Institute, Cato, the GAO (Government Accountability Office), etc.

All that said, you don’t have to agree with Google.org, or me, or anyone else about the course of action we should take, save for one thing - if you sign the petition, you’re signing up to help us persuade Google that providing bicycle routes on Google Maps would be a very good thing. :)

And if you are Google.org (or anyone else) and you are interested in cutting emissions from wherever they come from - and however they contribute to climate change, then you’ll want to know about a growing consensus that cutting transportation emissions via fuel efficiency and other ‘clean energy’ technologies is not enough:

EU policies focusing mainly on improving vehicle technology and fuel quality are not enough to reduce the transport sector’s contribution to greenhouse gas emissions, argues the European Environment Agency (EEA).

Read the report here (pdf).

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