Solar energy is on the rise. America has more than three times as much solar photovoltaic capacity today as in 2010, and more than 10 times as much as in 2007. In the first three months of 2013, solar power accounted for nearly half of the new electricity generating capacity in the United States. The price of solar energy is falling rapidly, and each year tens of thousands of additional Americans begin to reap the benefits of clean energy from the sun, generated right on the rooftops of their homes or places of business.
America has tripled its use of wind power since the beginning of 2008 and we are starting to reap the environmental rewards. Wind energy now displaces about 68 million metric tons of global warming pollution each year—as much as is produced by 13 million cars. And wind energy now saves more than enough water nationwide to meet the needs of a city the size of Boston.
There is still plenty of room for growth in wind energy. But the pending expiration of the production tax credit threatens the future expansion of wind power. To protect the environment, federal and state governments should continue and expand policies that support wind energy.
America’s reliance on gasoline-powered vehicles has long contributed to air pollution, including global warming emissions, and our nation’s dependence on oil. In the past decade, however, the automobile market has begun to change, integrating new technologies that are dramatically less dependent on gasoline. Hybrid electric vehicles, powered in part by energy stored in a battery, have become increasingly popular.
As summer approached, the dangers of our continued dependence on oil are apparent everywhere we look. In 2012, we have already experienced the hottest average temperatures ever recorded through April in the United States. At the same time, increasing evidence is still coming forth of long-lasting harm from the BP oil spill, and other tragic spills have occurred in waterways throughout the country since.