13 October 2010

Post-Partisan Power

The American Enterprise Institute, the Brookings Institution and the Breakthrough Institute (where I am a senior fellow) have jointly issued a new, bi-partisan report on energy policy.

Here is how the Breakthrough Institute opens their blog post on the report which is also featured in today's NY Times and E&E News:
After decades-long "climate wars" and amidst today's hyper-partisan political environment, it is easy to forget how much reasonable liberals and conservatives can actually agree on. Today, scholars from divergent points on the political compass released a new white paper charting a practical, bipartisan path forward on clean energy innovation and modernization.

In "Post-Partisan Power," the American Enterprise Institute, Brookings Institution, and Breakthrough Institute describe a limited and direct energy innovation strategy that can deliver clean, cheap energy, economic productivity, and national prosperity.

As New York Times columnist David Leonhardt writes in the paper's October 13th print edition, this new post-partisan proposal, and the growing energy innovation consensus surrounding it, "reflect[s] the political reality that raising the cost of dirty energy is unpopular, especially when the economy is so weak. Finding the money to make clean energy cheaper, even when government budgets are tight, will probably be an easier sell."

While cap and trade legislation became embattled by partisan wars over climate science and compromised to the point of inefficacy, Leonhardt reminds readers that there is a successor strategy waiting, if one only turns to the long, bipartisan history of American technological leadership.

"[H]istory shows that government-directed research can work," Leohardt writes.
"The Defense Department created the Internet, as part of a project to build a communications system safe from nuclear attack. The military helped make possible radar, microchips and modern aviation, too. The National Institutes of Health spawned the biotechnology industry. All those investments have turned into engines of job creation, even without any new tax on the technologies they replaced. "We didn't tax typewriters to get the computer. We didn't tax telegraphs to get telephones," says Michael Shellenberger, president of the Breakthrough Institute in Oakland, Calif., which is a sponsor of the ["Post-Partisan Power"] proposal with A.E.I. and Brookings. "When you look at the history of technological innovation, you find that state investment is everywhere."
Click here to download the full report.