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Renewable energy

Why U.S. lawmakers oppose renewable energy grants

Saturday, May 15, 2010 by: Ethan A. Huff, staff writer
Tags: renewable energy, grants, health news

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(NaturalNews) With the economy in shambles throughout the past year or two, lawmakers have been scrambling to find ways to spur growth and increase American jobs. However many are opposing stimulus efforts that create jobs overseas, including renewable energy grants that end up creating manufacturing jobs in China rather than in the U.S.

Part of the $789 billion stimulus bill that was rammed through Congress last year included a $3 billion energy grant program. This program is touted to increase U.S. development of wind farms and solar energy plants by providing incentives to companies willing to build them. Instead of accepting investment tax credits, developers who invest in renewable energy projects are able to apply for Energy Department grants that cover 30 percent of the development costs.

While this sounds like a great way to steer American energy production away from fossil fuels and towards renewable, sustainable alternatives, the fact of the matter is that the majority of the solar cell and wind turbine manufacturing would likely be taking place overseas in places like China. In other words, some jobs might be created in the U.S. to construct the plants and eventually to run them, but likely far more will be created overseas in the countries that are actually producing the equipment.

Many are upset about the idea of billions of U.S. dollars subsidizing projects that largely benefit other countries rather than the U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY), who has been vocal in opposing the energy grants under the current structure, has been pushing for legislation that would prevent them from being used to create foreign jobs.

But not everyone agrees. Cappy McGarr, a managing partner of U.S. Renewable Energy Group, a private equity group that is currently working with a company in West Texas to build a wind farm, believes that the allegations are overblown.

"It is incorrect to assume that the hundreds of additional jobs created aside from the direct consultation and operation of the Texas plant would be outside the U.S.," McGarr explained in a statement. The project involves a $1.5 billion investment and, according to some, will likely rely on Chinese-made turbines.

While Sen. Schumer did agree that American manufacturers are capable of producing some turbine components, including things like blades and gearboxes, he and three other senators have written to Treasury Secretary Timothy Geitner requesting a moratorium on clean energy grants until the issue is properly addressed.

It only makes sense that projects receiving American tax dollars utilize American labor and manufacturing. The U.S. economy has been largely stripped of its manufacturing base through the past several decades, so establishing legislation to help bring it back seems like a wise decision.

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