By: Susan Kraemer
In just the first ten days, Wyoming voters used up their share in the funds from The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act designed to end dependence on dirty energy. They voted with their feet against the Senators they sent to vote for dirty energy.
Wyoming voters chose Senators whose party policy as Republicans is to put up persistent obstruction to climate and renewable energy legislation, and both its Republican Senators voted against The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
The ARRA funds a level of green energy projects that has led to the Obama Administration’s Department of Energy being described as running a Manhattan Project for clean energy.
The Wyoming State Energy Office ran out of its allocated $2.25 million ARRA funding in less than 10 days in December - which it had expected would take 6 months to use up.
The program offered grants of up to $10,000 or 50 percent of project costs, whichever was less, for adding renewable energy at Wyoming homes. Homeowners may be able to start installing the projects as soon as next month, with reimbursement based on spending invoices and other verification.
By combining the grant with the 30% tax credit that now reduces the cost of any renewable energy project, Wyoming voters now stand to gain energy independence at an affordable rate.
The rest of the nation can benefit too. Wyoming is 90% coal powered and so its residents are stuck with the highest carbon footprint in the nation, just to keep the same TVs and iPods on that Californians can do at half the carbon footprint. So it was a very good choice to fund the switch, and the good people of Wyoming chose wisely in adding their clean renewable power to Wyoming’s dirty grid.
But both Senator Barasso and Senator Enzi of Wyoming stand with Senator Inhofe and all but two Republicans on climate change, persistently obstructing legislation like the Production Tax Credit, or the against the Renewable Portfolio Standard that makes climate-safe renewable energy cheaper or easier for voters to switch to. Both Senators opposed the last major renewable energy bill, until the 30% tax credit for renewable energy was finally snuck into the “must approve” Bank Bailout Bill in November of 2008.
US law gives a disproportionate voice to small states. Regardless of population, each state has two Senators, which unbalances the nation’s representation. Two Senators represent a mere 365,685 people of voting age in Wyoming.
If the US divided its 100 Senators equally among all of its voters, rather than assigning two Senators per state, regardless of how few voters reside in the state, then it is estimated that it would be able to pass progressive policy to make the switch to renewable energy as Europe has been able to do.
There were another $2 million in requests for funding for projects to install solar, wind or ground-source heat energy systems to power Wyoming homes, when the funding ran out.