Ted Kaufman - United States Senator for Delaware

'Future lies in growing the green economy'

Source: The News Journal

By Sen. Ted Kaufman

February 21, 2010

When we get through today's economic crisis, where will the new jobs be?

We are just now beginning to emerge from one of the worst economic downturns since the Great Depression. Housing, retail and finance -- three of the biggest employment sectors of the past decade -- will not be enough to get us on the upswing.

I believe the future lies in growing the green economy.

History shows us that new technology provides growth opportunities, more businesses and more jobs. Rebuilding our infrastructure to accommodate a greener economy will create countless new employment opportunities. At the same time, establishing the United States as a leader in the industries that will dominate a green energy economy will put us on a sound footing for future generations.

Developing alternative energy resources will lessen our dependence upon foreign oil and increase our national security. The greater the U.S. investment in alternative energy sources, the fewer barrels of oil we will have to import and the more cutting-edge technology we will export.

Many of our smartest investors see this and are betting on clean energy. John Doerr, who helped fund small startups with names like Amazon and Google, believes it. Vinod Khosla, who founded Sun Microsystems, believes it. Companies that have been on the forefront of innovation for more than a century, like General Electric and Delaware's homegrown champion, DuPont, believe it.

And other nations do as well. Norway is at the cutting edge of carbon capture and storage, and a Japanese automaker has sold more hybrids than anyone else. Germany has become the world's leader in installed solar power.

But what really brings home the fierce urgency of developing a green economy is the way I have seen the world's largest country, China, turn on a dime.

China becoming a leader

For years, as I traveled to China and witnessed her explosive growth, it was clear that the leadership was reluctant to combat climate change.

Suddenly, that is no longer the case. Last year China became the world's biggest manufacturer of wind turbines. China had already become the leading source of solar panels, and is now working around the clock to expand green technologies -- from nuclear power and carbon capture and storage to more efficient lighting and heating.

The Chinese get it.

From President Hu Jintao's speech at the United Nations last fall, in which he spoke about reducing China's "carbon intensity," to Premier Wen Jiabao's role in December during the Copenhagen negotiations, we can see that they are out to win the clean energy race.

Today, the Chinese can see that other countries are on the brink of creating a brand new market, a global market for clean energy technologies, and they want to dominate that market.

We in the United States have that same opportunity. But we must act now and act boldly.

We possess a great asset: the American people. We are the most innovative, dynamic society the world has ever seen, and if we put our minds to it, we can lead the world in green technology.

Already, Delaware is leading the way.

Fisker Automotive will hire hundreds to build plug-in hybrids at the Boxwood Road GM plant. Bluewater Wind is leading the way in developing offshore windpower. Bluewater's Delaware Offshore Wind Park could be the first offshore wind farm in the United States. Newark's WhiteOptics LLC is developing a lighting product that will increase energy efficiency by 50 percent.

University of Delaware's alternative fuel programs, DuPont's seaweed-based fuel alternative and solar technology, and W.L. Gore's fuel cell technology are at the forefront of their fields. ILC Dover is developing advanced materials, while Newark's CMI Electric, a solar panel seller and installer, has a banner on its Web site that says "WE ARE HIRING -- APPLY HERE." We need more of those five words and we will, if we continue to focus our efforts toward a green economy.

We must invest in education to produce more STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) students, start a green bank, and create federal R+D programs like the ones that produced Cisco, Google and SAS.

Green technology is not just an environmental movement anymore; it is a wise financial investment and a linchpin in ultimately putting Americans back to work.

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