A New Bottom Line for Clean Air and Efficient Energy
Ph.D. Candidate, George Mason University
Program Director, US-China Association of Environmental Education
10722 West Drive Apt. 204
Fairfax, Virginia 22030 USA
|Hurricane Katrina has put upward pressure on oil prices at a time of strong demand, tight supply, and refining bottlenecks. The skyrocketing oil prices put the public in a panic, and it is high time for the US to rethink its energy policy: to redefine a bottom line that supports both economic and environmental goals, and that gears up for energy efficiency and clean air performance.|
Germany tops all other nations in renewable energy, and its most significant achievements for the overall decrease in air emissions have been the reductions from energy industries and from energy use in industry. In contrast, the US consumes nearly 85 percent of the energy in 2005 from traditional sources which has greatly affected clean air performance for the past decades.
Based on a time-trend study on energy efficiency and clean air performance in the US since 1970, this study compares the performance and initiatives in two nations: the US and Germany, and identifies the factors that contributed to their divergence during the 1980s. Influencing factors include: energy policy that fails to encourage shifting to cleaner fuel; partisan preferences prioritize economic/industrial interest over environment; polluting industries lobby to relax environmental standards rather than install environmental equipments, for example. The dynamic interaction among the institutions, politicians, and interest groups forms a specific policy climate that helps explain the divergence. Finally, the paper comes up with policy tools and strategies to promote innovation and energy efficiency.