Harnessing the Power of Clean Energy
As we celebrate National Clean Energy Week in the United States and recognize the important strides American businesses and communities have made to become clean energy leaders within their own respective fields and sectors, we — as citizens — must also make note of the need for action against climate change, and set out on redoubling our collective efforts to advance clean energy economics, practices and investments throughout the United States.
As a nation, we have yet to even scratch the surface of what is possible with clean energy, and its possible impacts — the vast majority of which would be positive — on the economic and environmental landscape of the U.S.
From its potential to transform industries, to its ability to boost the economic, cultural and societal well-being of communities left behind by technological advancements and globalization, clean energy and the proper introduction and implementation of such technologies in America’s rural and agriculturally dominant communities possesses great promise for the future American economy. In today’s politically partisan environment, in which little to nothing seems to be getting done in Washington for the betterment of the country, I would like to think Democrats and Republicans can come together to build up the capacity of the clean energy economy for the sake of jobs and prosperity for economically distressed communities in the U.S. Just one example can be found in coal country and the Appalachian mountains, both being communities that are struggling to adapt to the economic and political pressures facing the coal industry and the ever-present uncertainty which looms over coal’s not-to-bright future.
Recently, while traveling abroad to visit family in Spain, I was afforded the opportunity to see first-hand a vast array of clean energy projects — from water dams to wind turbines and solar farms —that the Spanish government and public/private entities had recently completed to fulfill the country’s promise of climate resiliency, as they confront the new found realities and hardships of climate change on the Spanish people and its economy. I was left impressed by the sheer size and ambition of the projects, but was most astonished by the locations in which the projects were constructed, and the inclusive economic opportunities they spurred and provided for communities in dominantly rural regions. In Chantada, a small rural town in Spain’s Galicia region, a recently completed wind turbine project situated upon mountaintops and ranges within close proximity to the town sought the talent and contributions of local workers to construct and complete the project. This small but hugely important practice enabled local workers to seek full and meaningful employment, and provided the community a personal stake in the project’s fruition and success. I couldn’t help but think how projects such as these could help spur jobs and provide financial security for countless Americans struggling to adapt and make ends-meet in today’s complex, disruptive and modern economy.
At a time in which the U.S. is experiencing tremendous economic growth and prosperity, it would be wise for American leaders in both the public and private sector to seize this moment and invest in building the energy future of tomorrow, today. There is no reason as to why the U.S. should not be a global leader in clean energy, for this is the next great economic story which has yet to be told, and still remains unknown and elusive to many of the American people today.
At the American Conservation Coalition, it is our job to tell this story to the American people, and to inspire action in support of clean energy policies and projects throughout the United States. On this National Clean Energy Week, I am honored to be a part of an organization doing its part to spark interest and debate around ideas of substance and impact, and for being able to play a very small role in the success of this pro-climate action movement. It is my hope that my personal story and experiences enrich your understanding of clean energy, and that the vast opportunities that potentially lie ahead for the United States, if the moment is ever seized, are able to fulfill the promise of a clean energy future.