America / Energy / U.S. Domestic Policy

Energy and Economics Conference

On Thursday January 24th the National Journal hosted a policy summit conference exploring how renewable energy innovation is transforming how the economy is driven, and how the economy is influencing energy production. President Obama addressed the need to move forward with clean energy in his inaugural address; this policy summit was the coming together of thoughts and ideas regarding how specifically America can make this transition. Promoting a cleaner environment is not the only reason for excitement over renewable energy; job production, general economic growth, and energy independence are weighty factors as well. One of the greatest struggles with sustainable energy is finding ways to bring down production costs. One of the featured speakers at this conference was North Dakota Senator John Hoeven. He expressed that the private sector has the ability to economically provide sustainable energy technology in collaboration with the empowerment of state and local governments.

There is a debate amongst politicians regarding the role of the state in the sustainable energy movement. Senator Hoeven believes that it is the government’s place to stimulate the new energy movement, not fund it. For example the government should assist in empowering private investment and interest in energy technology, then let the market take over. Also, providing government incentives is a strategy favored by many to spur energy industry growth.

Other speakers at the new energy conference also expressed ideas such as “race to the top” for clean energy, providing government incentives for states that can improve their renewable energy scope. There is so much potential for new energy technology and development, however it needs to become a competitive product on the market in order to gain traction. One way to go about this is to ease federal regulation and encourage the states to individually pursue their sustainable energy goals. Each state has differing energy potential and each state government has a more accurate scope of environmental issues—North Dakota and South Carolina would not necessarily utilize similar sustainable energy options.

Moreover, Senator Hoeven mentioned the importance of government transparency regarding energy policy. Breaking down the burden of regulation is a pivotal aspect to energy growth. This also pertains to the regulation of fossil fuel production. Many maintain that the government should work with both clean and fossil fuel energy, sustaining subsidies to oil companies as well as stimulating clean energy technology and production simultaneously. However there is a strong presence of individuals who fervently maintain that the government should set strong energy policy and steer the private sector to reach the nation’s sustainable energy goals. This was the central obstacle discussed at the conference—what is the degree of government involvement in the clean energy movement? An end to this debate or a certain degree of compromise would help set forward a clear path for energy production in the United States.

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