O’Malley: We can get all our energy from renewables

Source: By Martin O'Malley, Des Moines Register • Posted: Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Last weekend, at a meeting in Sioux City, I was asked a question I’ve heard from people all across the state: As president, what would you do to support the investments we’re already making in Iowa on renewable energy?

Iowans deserve a clear answer to that question from every candidate. Here’s mine: My administration would call for 100 percent of our energy to come from renewable sources by 2050.

Clean energy is a job creator, pure and simple. Iowa and Maryland prove it. Both of our states set standards and targets to encourage investment in renewable fuels. Iowa did this first among states, and now is a leader in biofuel production and wind generation. Last year, the number of Iowans working in the wind industry increased by 50 percent. In Maryland during my time as governor, we doubled our renewable portfolio standard and created thousands of new green jobs.

Now is time to take this progress to the next level. New technologies now put an independent clean energy future decidedly within our reach as a nation. With a comprehensive climate and energy plan, we can create up to five million new jobs in the next decade alone.

This is why, as president, I would use my executive power on day one to declare the transition to a clean energy future the number one priority of our federal government. And this is exactly what I’m coming to Iowa to talk about over the Fourth of July weekend.

For starters, we must train the next generation of workers to lead this transition to clean energy. I have called for creating a new Clean Energy Jobs Corps to partner with communities to build clean energy infrastructure, retrofit buildings to be more energy efficient, and expand our fields and forests so they can absorb more greenhouse gases.

Next, we must make the critical investments needed to rebuild our energy infrastructure to be cleaner, more resilient, and more reliant on renewable fuels. I have proposed launching a Clean Energy Financing Authority to support such projects. Among other measures, the finance authority would support community wind and solar projects, working with rural electric cooperatives and others to help install them affordably.

Third, I would prioritize modernizing our electric grid, to connect the clean energy you’re already producing in Iowa to the consumers who need it.

And finally, I would replace federal subsidies for fossil fuels with a long-term extension of production and investment tax credits. These credits directly benefit homeowners by making technologies like rooftop solar panels affordable, and have been critical to building strong biofuel and wind energy markets here in Iowa. We must also protect strong incentives like the Renewable Fuel Standard, which drive investments in clean energy and keep renewable fuels competitive.

Together with other policies, these measures will put our nation on track to meet a 100 percent clean energy Renewable Electricity Standard by 2050.

This is a bold agenda, but together we can achieve it. And the communities I’m visiting this weekend, from Council Bluffs to Clinton, prove it.

It’s time to build on their progress.With the support you need at the federal level, new leadership, and a bold agenda for action, Iowa will continue to lead our nation to clean energy independence.

MARTIN O’MALLEY, former governor of Maryland, is seeking the Democratic nomination for president.