News / Economy

Is Alternative Energy Viable in US Market?

The Obama administration devoted more than $80 billion towards alternative energy research and energy efficiency as part of the 2009 Recovery Act
The Obama administration devoted more than $80 billion towards alternative energy research and energy efficiency as part of the 2009 Recovery Act

Multimedia

Peter Fedynsky

The current spike in oil prices sparked by unrest in the Middle East is not the first one to hit the United States.  Traditionally, higher prices have prompted calls for American energy independence through alternative energy.  But skeptics say such calls amount to little more than talk in a nation heavily dependent on cheap foreign oil.

The latest increase in U.S. fuel prices was driven by unrest in the Middle East.  In the past, Americans have faced higher energy costs following hurricanes that disrupted oil supplies; after major oil spills; or during energy embargoes by the OPEC oil cartel.  Each spike focused attention on America’s dependence on foreign oil.

Thomas Wallin, president of Energy Intelligence, an energy information company, says few people have noticed that the Obama administration devoted more than $80 billion towards alternative energy research and energy efficiency as part of the 2009 Recovery Act.

“But I think at a time that governments are trying to cut spending and austerity is sort of the word of the day, it gets very hard to tilt the whole playing field of energy in favor of alternatives, which is what you effectively need to do to make them come in faster,” noted Wallin.

The 2009 Recovery Act that funded President Obama’s energy initiatives has expired.  And the Republican-controlled House of Representatives is trying to rein in government spending.

The director of market intelligence at the NASDAQ stock market in New York, Anu Sharma, says the current spike in oil prices will likely provoke a political debate.

“You’re going to hear people talk about trying to explore new areas for research and development, as well as drilling," noted Sharma.  "That’s going to come up.  And the other side of the debate; the alternative whole energy sector is going to rise up when it comes to solar and wind.”

But Thomas Wallin says America loses the political will to embrace a dramatic shift in energy policy when oil prices decline.

“We’ve been through these crises before in the past," noted Wallin.  "There’s been a lot of plans and a lot of talk.  And then, when things get easier, we’re suddenly not spending the money in that way; we’re not pushing those programs the way we were.”

As a result, if the past is any indication, Americans will likely rely on foreign oil until permanently higher oil prices force them to find alternative sources of energy.

You May Like

UN Ambassador Power Highlights Plight of Women Prisoners

She launches the 'Free the 20' campaign, aimed at profiling women being deprived of their freedom around the world More

Satellite Launch Sparks Spectacular Light Show

A slight delay in a satellite launch lit up the Florida sky early this morning More

Fleeing IS Killings in Syria, Family Reaches Bavaria

Exhausted, scared and under-nourished, Khalil and Maha's tale mirrors those of thousands of refugees from war-torn countries who have left their homes in the hopes of finding a better life More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs

World Currencies

EUR
USD
0.8916
JPY
USD
121.32
GBP
USD
0.6487
CAD
USD
1.3252
INR
USD
66.401

Rates may not be current.