Today, a European company put the finishing touches on a wind project in North Dakota which Americans have known for decades is "the Saudi Arabia of Wind."
Spain's Iberdrola Renovables, the parent company of Iberdrola Renewables Inc that built the project became a giant global wind company in the wake of the Kyoto Accord. The European renewable energy sector grew from the resulting renewable energy legislation in Europe.
The result is that it is European wind companies such as Vestas and Iberdrola, that are now building the wind energy that we need.
Iberdrola Renovables is the largest provider of wind power in the world. It now has over 10 Gigawatts of wind power in operation in 23 countries and 56 GW of projects in the pipeline. It began in 2001 from an initial renewables capacity of little more than 1,000 MW.
That tremendous growth is indicative of what legislation like the Kyoto Accord and the resulting EU carbon markets will do to grow renewable energy companies.
But renewable energy legislation has been filibustered by the Republican Party each time it was brought up, since 1993. Because of these 16 years of Republican refusal to allow movement on renewable energy policies (through the use of the filibuster), America is now falling steadily behind in renewable energy market dominance that might protect us in the much more dangerous future that climate change will create.
The Democratic Senator for North Dakota; Byron Dorgan still supports renewable energy legislation that virtually all the Democrats have supported and tried to pass many times, that would would create a nationwide Renewable Electricity Standard (RES). It would have the same effect as European renewable energy legislation like Kyoto; building a renewable energy sector in this country, like the Kyoto Accord has done in Europe.
A nationwide renewable energy Standard or Portfolio Standard forces utilities to buy more renewable energy. China just passed a similar measure over the weekend; one with a bit more force; which if it works as well as their One Child policy did - will propel China into the renewable energy power of the 21st century world.
An RES (or a Renewable Portfolio Standard: RPS) would transfer our energy production to renewable energy such as wind and solar, lowering the greenhouse gases that increasingly cause climate catastrophe from California to Australia, dumping heavy precipitation on the Northeast and drying out the Southwest.
"If we want to both protect the environment and protect our country, we can start doing that immediately by passing this energy bill," Dorgan said in December, in reference to passing it; the sort of sentiment that he has voiced for about a decade. "It contains specific policies that will lower carbon emissions and will provide our country with a more secure energy future."
Yet in the run-up to finalizing the climate bill on the Senate floor; Republican operatives in outlets such as Politico are selectively quoting Democratic Senators of marginally Democratic states as saying that they don't think they support the climate bill.
The background they leave out is that, with one or two exceptions; these Senators have voted for renewable energy (and thus: climate) legislation many many times, and are not going to change now. It is the Republican's routine demand for 60 votes that is stopping all renewable energy legislation, not a few Democrats who want variants on legislative vehicles to achieve the same end.
Because of our lack of that kind of renewable energy-enabling legislation, the US "Saudi Arabia" is being colonized by nations who don't have to reach an undemocratic 60 votes to overcome a filibuster from an ignorant few. But, we should be grateful. It did bring some jobs to the state. Two hundred and fifty locals were hired to install the turbines and build the 16 mile road and operations building.
One Party is turning this once great and innovative nation into a mere resource to be mined by colonizers. This year, it's Spain. And soon enough, it will be China.
Image: Flikr user Dave Otsubo