Stop Republicans from blocking wind energy and solar power development

I was struck by the connection between two recent articles in this paper.

On Dec. 2, Jeffrey Tomich revealed an effort by conservative legislators to repeal our state’s renewable energy standard, which was passed by Missouri voters in 2008 with 66 percent support (“Conservative groups target green energy mandates”). This policy, advanced by the Sierra Club and other environmental groups, requires the development of wind and solar energy in our state. To put it in perspective, over 20 percent of Iowa’s electricity is generated by wind, while about 1 percent of Missouri’s energy is generated that way. Expanded wind power would be a powerful economic development tool, creating jobs in manufacturing and construction, as well as property tax revenue for the public schools where the wind turbines are located.

The Dec. 3 paper carried an article (“Rise in pollution worries scientists”) about the rise in global greenhouse gas emissions. Scientists report that this increase in emissions means that we will face a temperature increase of greater than 3.6-degrees Fahrenheit, unless we take aggressive measures to reduce that pollution. Such a temperature increase would have devastating impacts, including drought, food scarcity and flooding.

Let’s look at these two articles together. Why is the Republican legislative leadership trying to stop clean energy development here, when the scientific consensus on the human cause of climate disruption is clear?

Is the problem that the U.S. does not have the capacity to deploy enough wind and solar to reduce greenhouse gas emissions? No! In June 2012, the International Energy Agency announced that, since 2006, the United States has seen the largest reduction in carbon dioxide emissions of any country. During this time, U.S. carbon dioxide emissions have fallen by 7.7 percent, primarily due to a decrease in coal use.

Americans in other states have shown that clean energy works. Scientists around the world have shown that action on greenhouse gases is crucial. Let’s not let right-wing legislators roll us back to the bad old days of dirty energy and climate change denial.

John Hickey  •  St. Louis, Missouri Sierra Club