In addition to being slammed by green groups for the climate-killing rollback of the Clean Power Plan, EPA chief Scott Pruitt on Monday stirred a second wave of criticism when he said that government subsidies for wind and solar power should be taken away by Congress.
"I would do away with these incentives that we give to wind and solar," Pruitt said at an event in Kentucky, referring to tax credits for wind and solar solar—the nation's most promising sources of renewable energy.
Without acknowledging the billions of taxpayer dollars awarded to the oil and gas industry every year in the form of subsidies and tax incentives, Pruitt said that he would let wind and solar "stand on their own and compete against coal and natural gas and other sources, and let utilities make real-time market decisions on those types of things as opposed to being propped up by tax incentives and other types of credits that occur, both in the federal level and state level."
In the wake of the comments, many pointed out that such a move—in addition to doing the exact opposite of what the world's scientists say is necessary—would decimate jobs across the nation's wind and solar industries:
I guess the war on wind and solar starts now. Good luck with that. https://t.co/BRcnpkZ9kS— Steve Joffe (@SteveJoffe) October 9, 2017
There r more ppl working in solar/wind energy, & this guy thinks it's okay 2 ruin their lives for a small industry? https://t.co/GWJKNknov4— Kim Tullio-Steinen (@Shebabasmom) October 9, 2017
Pruitt acknowledged that cuts to renewable energy would not come from the EPA, but he called on the Republicans who now control Congress to do so.
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As the International Energy Agency stated in its annual report on power generated last week, solar photovoltaic (PV) energy grew faster in 2016 than any other power source in the world.
"What we are witnessing is the birth of a new era in solar PV," Fatih Birol, executive director of the IEA, said in a statement accompanying the new report. "We expect that solar PV capacity growth will be higher than any other renewable technology through 2022."
But while the IAE credited the Chinese government—which has funneled billions and billions of dollars into renewable energy—as being the globe's primary driver of solar proliferation, it remains the outsized influence of fossil fuels in the United States that has restrained renewables.
As Common Dreams reported last week, a report by Oil Change International showed that without billions of dollars in subsidies, American gas, oil, and coal companies would crash and burn.
"While the rest of the world moves toward a renewable energy future, dirty energy defenders in the Trump administration are using our taxpayer dollars to promote dangerous new fossil fuel development," said OCI's Janet Redman.