Pro: Why Quentin James Wants To Move America Beyond Oil
1 year ago
“Fossil fuel infrastructure is dirty, dangerous and very often located in and around African-American communities.”
In our Pro vs Con series, we ask two experts to weigh in on a hot button topic. This week, we tackle where America sources its energy. Quentin James is the National Director of the Sierra Club’s Sierra Student Coalition.
Loop 21: Please define “renewable energy sources” and explain how they are currently being used in the United States.
Quentin James: Clean and renewable energy presents an opportunity for America to become more energy independent and economically secure. Wind energy is the fastest-growing source of power on the planet. With our tremendous wind resources—what some have deemed the “Saudi Arabia of wind”—the United States can become a world leader in wind energy. It’s no surprise that wind energy accounted for 93% of total installed renewable electricity capacity in 2008. In fact, in 2008 the United States surpassed Germany as the world leader in installed wind capacity. Iowa already gets 20% of its power from wind, and the Department of Energy says that we can get 20 percent of our power as a nation from wind energy alone by 2030. Wind is also an affordable and reliable source of energy. In the summer of 2011, when record heat waves in Texas threatened the reliability of the state’s power grid, Texas turned to wind to provide the crucial power it needed to prevent blackouts. As a growing power source, wind energy is a major source of economic development. Not only do farmers already harness the wind and sell the extra energy they generate for a profit, but wind farm development brings construction jobs, leasing royalties and increased tax revenues to local communities. If the United States were to produce just 20% of its energy from the wind, roughly 800,000 jobs would be created, annual property tax revenues would increase to $1.5 billion, and annual payments to rural landowners would increase to $600 million by 2030.
Solar energy is the cleanest, most abundant, renewable energy source available, and the U.S. has an ample and infinite supply of sun. Solar is one of the fastest growing sectors of the American economy, with more than 5,500 solar companies employing people in every state in the Union. Solar is not only clean, it is affordable. In 2011, San Antonio discovered that solar had become so cost-effective that the city opted to scrap plans for a new coal-fired power plant and install a large-scale solar facility instead. Solar is also a great way to create needed jobs in America. Generating power with solar creates seven times as many jobs as generating power with dirty, dangerous and increasingly expensive fossil fuels like coal.