White House’s ‘Energy Week’ is a dirty relic of the past

As Environment America’s energy program director, I’d normally be thrilled that the White House named an entire week “Energy Week.” In a world that’s warming faster than scientists ever predicted — primarily from emissions from energy production, and in a country where 72 metropolitan areas still experience at least 100 days of unhealthy air pollution, it’d be sensible to talk about shifting away from burning fossil fuels and toward abundant, pollution-free renewable energy.

Unfortunately, “Energy Week” means something completely different to the Trump Administration. Instead of touting clean, renewable sources of energy like wind and solar, they are doubling down on outdated, dirty energy. In an op-ed penned this week by Energy Secretary Rick Perry, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke and EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, there’s not one mention of solar energy, wind energy, or the immense opportunities to reduce energy waste.

From left to right — EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke and Energy Secretary Rick Perry. Photo Credit: Tami Heilemann, Interior

It’s a shame that during Energy Week, this administration has failed to talk about renewable energy. So here’s an alternative vision of “Energy Dominance” that has America expand clean energy here and around the world.

Clean, renewable energy is the future — plain and simple. Wind and solar energy are booming across the country because everyday Americans are not only recognizing the urgency to act on climate, but increasingly, it makes economic sense as well. Not to mention, solar panels and wind turbines don’t pollute our air, water and open spaces.

The good news is that despite inaction at the federal level, an ever-growing coalition of states, cities, towns, corporations, and the general public are all-in for a 100 percent renewable energy future. More than 30 cities, from San Diego to Atlanta to Georgetown, Texas to Philadelphia have committed to completely re-powering their cities with clean, renewable energy. Hawaii has already committed to 100 percent renewable electricity by 2045.

Earlier this week, the U.S. Conference of Mayors supported resolutions to uphold the Paris Agreement and move to 100 percent renewable energy.

Major corporations like Walmart, Apple and Coca-Cola have also set ambitious renewable energy goals. And just recently, Lyft’s co-founders announced a set of climate impact goals, which include moving to all-electric cars powered by 100 percent renewable energy by 2025.

It’s becoming increasingly clear that we don’t need to burn fossil fuels to power our society — it’s no longer the necessary price we have to pay for progress. Here in the United States, we have 100 times the solar potential to meet all of our electricity needs, 10 times the wind energy potential, and four times the offshore wind potential. With rooftop solar alone, we could generate nearly 40 percent of our nation’s electricity consumption. All 50 states could generate more electricity with solar — and in many cases, far more — than its residents, businesses and industries consume. With just renewable sources of energy like solar and wind, we can achieve “Energy Dominance.”

The data is clear: The U.S. could easily meet its electricity needs with solar energy alone.

We’ve certainly got a lot of work ahead of us to move the country to 100 percent renewable energy, but this Energy Week, I thought it was important to offer a positive, forward-thinking vision of our energy future in contrast to the White House’s. We hope you’ll join us.