Illinois and four other states came a step closer to offshore wind farms in the Great Lakes (New, April 1), and that is welcome news. Wind farms, once mocked by climate skeptics and opponents of renewable energy, are now a profitable way to generate clean electricity for our homes and businesses.
Experience gleaned from commercial wind farms will continue to bring down costs, as has always been the case with new technologies, to the point where tax credits are no longer needed to support them.
But that time has not yet arrived. Although politicians have become allergic to the words “climate change,” the scientific reality of that phenomenon still haunts us. Slow but steady greenhouse gas buildup caused by the burning of fossil fuels — coal, oil and gas — is a real threat to the well-being of future generations.
Not only environmentalists but analysts from the U.S. military to the insurance industry are warning that extreme weather, ecological damage and rising sea levels will impose painful costs on our economy in the coming decades — unless we act now.
Wind energy and other forms of renewable power generation can ease those risks.
That benefit should be rewarded through a simple mechanism that is long overdue: an annually rising carbon fee on fossil fuels, with every dollar rebated back to the American people as a monthly payment or tax credit. This will encourage efficiency and lower consumption but, more important, will unleash a flood of pent-up capital for investment in clean energy technologies. Continue reading more…