Sucks for American clean tech. Never mind that the industry is pretty universally regarded as one of tomorrow's most important drivers of job growth and innovation—the already too-meager, maddeningly scattershot government support for clean energy is about to dry up altogether. So, goodbye ARPA-E?
David Roberts points us to this graph from a newish report from the Breakthrough Institute, the World Resources Institute, and the Brookings Institution, and, as you can see, it's not pretty. And that sad-looking $11 billion stump too will disappear unless there's a shift in policy.
Early in his term, Obama unleashed a ton of support for cleantech, mainly via the stimulus bill, but also by funding some programs from the Bush era and earlier. At around $150 billion, federal cleantech spending from 2009-2014 will amount to over three times what was spent from 2002-2008. But that funding is dropping off a cliff: [via the report]Read Roberts' post, or the whole report, for the details of why and how this is happening.
In the absence of legislative action to extend or replace current subsidies, America’s clean tech policy system will have been largely dismantled by the end of 2014, a casualty of the scheduled expiration of 70 percent of all federal clean tech policies. … Furthermore, many of the remaining programs will end shortly after 2014.
I'll just add that under a Romney presidency, that graph becomes reality. The scenario may very well come to pass under Obama's watch too, barring an exodus of the Tea Party-aligned, anti-clean energy contingent from Congress.
To help turn the tide, Joe Romm argues that policymakers have got to start talking climate change again—and the polls show the public may be ready to listen—in order to make a powerful moral argument for pricing carbon and keeping clean tech investment alive and well.