The government’s decisions about implementing renewable energy affects the environment, the economy, and society as a whole. Renewable energy can be defined as an energy source that can be consistently replenished and will never run out. Energy and environmental writer Jennifer Weeks poses the question, “How will the U.S. get energy in the future, and how will we do so with our government funds?” (Weeks, 2011).
Using renewable energy would be cost effective and better for the environment, which would be beneficial for anyone and everyone living in the U.S. In the 1700’s, renewable energy such as wood, wind and water were the primary source of energy (Mumford, 1934). As time has passed, coal has been used more frequently and eventually replaced the majority of the renewable energy sources. In more recent years, talk of implementing renewable energy sources have fluctuated, depending on the president at the time. Even though the government makes the final decisions, citizens can make their voices heard. After all, the government was established to serve the people. Benefits Sourcing Renewable energy has many benefits, not only environmentally, but also financially.
The prices of solar and wind power decreased significantly in 2016, which led to other countries using less fossil fuels and nuclear energy (Carrington, 2017). The United States is falling behind compared to other countries when it comes to using energy that will be more profitable for our future. Oil is more than twice the price today than it was in 2005, when it was $55 per barrel (Weeks, 2011). Based on this, it is not unreasonable to assume that oil will become even more expensive as time goes on.
On the other hand, in 1999 oil prices were the lowest they have been since the Great Depression (Cooper, 1999). Since oil prices have fluctuated in the past, it is plausible that it will happen again in the future. In defiance of Donald Trump’s attempts to inhibit the progress of renewable energy, businesses and individuals have started to embrace renewable energy (Egan, 2018). Regardless of the laws against solar energy, people are still taking strides towards a better tomorrow. The senior writer of CNN declared that “solar energy is as cheap as coal in United States” (Egan, 2018).
If Trump repeals the tariffs on solar panels, renewable energy would be just as convenient as nonrenewable energy, from a financial standpoint. Drilling for fossil fuels is not allowed on national parks (Cooper, 2001). This makes obtaining oil and gas more difficult than obtaining renewable energy in some areas. Proposing laws that would give people an incentive to use renewable energy would promote the conversion of energy resources. Barriers Although transitioning to renewable energy would be favorable, there are still various barriers. President Obama suggested lowering the amount of money that annually goes towards oil production (Weeks, 2011). The idea did not go any further since many people depend on the production of oil to supply them with jobs. Author Wenonah Hauter states “Americans look to oil and natural gas for more than three-fifths of the energy they rely upon at work, at home and on the road” (Wenonah, 1998).
The general population may suffer if oil and gas are replaced with renewable energy, such as solar or wind energy. According to CNN, President Trump has appointed tariffs on solar panels imported solar panels (Egan, 2018). This restriction has made importing solar panels less desirable for the United States. As historian William Griffin pointed out, the “government subsidies, which had kept the renewable energy industry thriving during the early 1980s, expired in 1985” (Griffin, 1992). If the government gave renewable energy financial aid like they did in the 80s, coal and other nonrenewable resources would evidently be used less. Washington DC’s policymakers have previously considered raising taxes on oil and natural gas producers, which has been rejected multiple times (Weeks, 2011).
It is reasonable to believe that if taxes were raised on nonrenewable energy people would be less inclined to use it. On the other hand, policymakers did not want to tax “Big Oil” producers, but rather the independent oil producers who drill 95% of the nations nonrenewable energy (Weeks, 2011). On another note, President Trump’s retraction from the Paris climate change agreement will presumably result in “the U.S.
being left behind in the fast-moving transition to a low-carbon economy” (Carrington, 2017). Although many countries are taking steps towards renewable energy, the pace will not be fast enough to avert global warming impacts. Contrary to President Jimmy Carter’s plan to implement dependence on renewable energy, President Reagan decided to push oil into the world market, which eventually caused renewable energy sources to diminish (Griffin, 1992).
Solar expert Scott Sklar claimed that Reagan’s policy destroyed the renewable energy industry. It was claimed that “the number of solar equipment manufacturers in the water and space-heating end of the business fell from 185 to 20 following the removal of the subsidies” (Griffin, 1992). Laws and bills being passed by the government can affect the population’s opinions and ideas when it comes to energy sources.
For example, removing the tariffs set by President Trump would help push along the transition to depending on renewable energy. Actions Renewable energy can be a catalyst for change in American lives. However, there are still obstacles that must be overthrown. Congress has made areas for multiple uses in Alaska and the West of the U.S. for oil industries to drill (Cooper, 2001). However, the U.
S. Forest Service banned oil companies from drilling and building roads in forests. A report predicted that “by 2040, $7.4 trillion will have been invested in renewable energy plants, including nearly $3 trillion for solar alone” (Egan, 2018). Undoubtedly, renewable energy will become a significant part of the United States energy resource, and possibly replace nonrenewable energy as a whole. Natural gas can be considered a better nonrenewable energy source, since it is cheap, easy to install and does not pollute the air as much as other nonrenewable sources (Weeks, 2011). Although natural gas is a nonrenewable energy source, using natural gas instead of coal and oil is a step towards a sustainable future.
“Some oil companies now promote solar energy and are developing cleaner blends of gasoline,” the result of this development caused a 5% reduction of carbon emissions (Cooper, 2011). This is another example of a compromise between people who prefer renewable energy and people who would rather use nonrenewable energy. The United States is capable of using energy sources that are better for the environment and the economy while obtaining energy efficiently. Some states, including California, have postponed the expansion of energy transmission lines (Cooper, 2001). This arrangement works because hydropower from Washington and Oregon are able to send electricity to other states on the West Coast. A few states have implemented mandatory renewable energy standards. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, the U.
S. puts aside $44 million for renewable energy (Durkay, 2017). Much progress has been made when it comes to the alteration of energy, but there is a significant amount of work that needs to be done to ensure that the future of the United States energy sources are stable. Conclusion Evidently, there are efficient ways to use renewable energy. However, some people are not very eager to make this change, including the government. Both renewable and nonrenewable energy options have their drawbacks, but when looking at the larger picture renewable energy has more benefits than nonrenewable energy. Laws and tariffs cause the shift of energy sources more difficult. Since nonrenewable energy has been primarily used since the ’70s, transitioning to renewable energy will be an uphill battle.
The Solar Energy Industries Association claimed that 18 states in the U.S. require a minimum amount of renewable energy. With this in mind, the future of our country seems to be bright, but there is still room to grow.
All in all, converting to renewable energy would be the best decision for the greater good.