MEMO: The Economic Imperative for Clean Energy

For Immediate Release

Center for American Progress
Contact: 

Jason Rahlan
Phone: 202.481.8132
Email: jrahlan@americanprogress.org

MEMO: The Economic Imperative for Clean Energy

WASHINGTON - The United States faces an economic imperative to develop reliable,
affordable, clean sources of energy and use them more efficiently. In
the face of deep economic challenges and a rising federal budget
deficit, some may suggest that the United States should postpone its
investments in a clean energy supply. But the opposite is true.
Sustained budget deficits can be problematic, but there is widespread
agreement that running a deficit to pay for an economic stimulus and
recovery plan is necessary now. Investing in clean energy creates jobs
in the short-run, helps combat global warming, spurs long-term growth,
and ultimately helps restore fiscal balance by improving our economic
circumstances.

Our dependence on oil leaves us vulnerable to higher and higher
prices in the coming decades, continued price volatility and shocks,
and the demands of hostile and unstable countries. Oil prices jumped
from roughly $70 a barrel in July 2007 to more than $140 a barrel in
July 2008, before swiftly dropping back to between $50 and $60 a barrel
in November 2008. According to the International Energy Agency,
"pronounced short-term swings in prices are likely to remain the norm"
in the coming decades, and price shocks will be even more painful as
average oil prices are projected to steadily rise.

Climate change caused by reliance on fossil fuels is already
underway. If left unchecked, this will lead to stronger hurricanes and
other storms, floods caused by rising sea levels and massive
precipitation, droughts, and heat waves that will ultimately cost
trillions of dollars a year.

These are the reasons why we need action on clean energy, and it
should proceed in two stages. First, we should act immediately to
invest in a green stimulus and recovery plan, creating desperately
needed jobs and beginning the transition to a clean and more efficient
energy future. Second, in 2009 we must begin putting in place an
economy-wide greenhouse gas cap-and-trade program-the best long-term
solution to catastrophic climate change-as a central component of a
comprehensive clean energy strategy.

Our nation faces great economic challenges. Immediate government
investments will help put us on a path to recovery while also speeding
the arrival of an economy powered with clean, sustainable, and secure
sources of energy. We cannot be confident of sustainable economic
growth in the future unless we also move ahead with the important
structural transformation to a low-carbon economy.

Read the full memo (pdf)

 

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