Wednesday, July 20, 2011

For Green Jobs, Cut Fossil-Fuel Subsidies

Paul Krugman has a post on the green jobs issue. He wonders why wind energy investments and jobs have not been growing as fast as many have hoped. He argues that the "right incentives" have not been put in place and one reason is that progress on environmental issues is stymied by opponents of government intervention, i.e.,  believers in the markets. Krugman then makes the case that opponents of environmental intervention actually lack faith in the potential of markets. Markets would go to work to solve environmental problems if the right incentives were in place. For example, a price on carbon would be such an incentive.

I commented that in the context of the current debt-ceiling debate, the most promising path ahead in the Congress - especially for independent Republicans - is to push hard to end subsidies for fossil fuels. 

This is not a pipe dream. Last year I attended a press conference in Washington of the Green Scissors campaign, a 15-year-old group led by three organizations concerned about the environment. The campaign has identified $200 billion in wasteful and environmentally harmful 
subsidies, such as subsidies for petroleum and ethanol. The press  conference was bipartisan, including independently minded Republicans like Rep. Tom Petri of Wisconsin, who spoke in favor of reducing these subsidies.

The debate over the deficit and the debt ceiling is an opportunity for advancing alternative energy and energy efficiency by ending subsidies for the production of fossil fuels and ethanol.