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Your Views: On sustainable energy, US should follow Germany

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June 28, 2014

While politicians across the board agree that the country needs to adapt to cleaner alternative fuel sources, some politicians are still apprehensive about change.

Overall, the cost of moving to more renewable energy will be expensive. Many citizens are not enthusiastic about paying for an energy infrastructure redesign. Some choose to stay with gasoline with ethanol blends for vehicles, for example, because it has been used for such a long time and on a large scale, says Samantha Slater of the Renewable Fuels Association.

Despite the tradition and scale, a significant switch to renewables should be made to realize environmental and domestic benefits.

Compared to other countries, especially Germany, the United States lags in renewable energy use, says Ken Johnson, legislative correspondent for Sen. Mark Warner, D-Virginia.

Germany introduced its renewable energy plan in the 1970s, and it has adopted a national energy policy that focuses on creating a sustainable energy source by 2050. The Germans believe their policy will reduce emissions while increasing renewable energy use.

Our country should become more energy efficient and independent. Germany serves as a good model. There needs to be a broad re-education about the environmental and economic perils of continuing on our current energy path.

The federal government should encourage the private sector to invest in renewable energy sources with targeted subsidies. Without a significant shift to alternative energy sources, pollution levels will rise.

Incentives the federal government can offer to encourage the private sector to support renewables include tax credits. While oil companies have permanent tax credits, most tax credits for alterative fuels will expire within two years. Private companies should be the centerpieces of renewable fuels.

To progress toward a cleaner, more energy-efficient country, acceptance of the benefits of alternative fuels and a drive to meet that challenge are keys to a more sustainable future.

--MATT TRACEY

Janesville Craig

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is among commentaries written by students at Janesville’s Craig and Parker high schools who visited our nation’s capitol in Washington as part of the Advanced Placement U.S. government course.



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