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Congressman Carney Pitches Green Energy Economy for SPPA Lecture Series

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Congressman Carney pitches green energy economy during lecture at UD

 
U.S. Rep. John Carney discusses the green energy economy during a lecture at UD.

U.S. Rep. John Carney discusses the green energy economy during a lecture at UD.

4:18 p.m., Feb. 23, 2011----New U.S. Rep. John Carney (D-Del.) came to the University of Delaware's Gore Hall on Tuesday, Feb. 22, and spoke on the potential economic benefits of green energy.

Carney's lecture was the first of this year's Contemporary Issues in Public Policy and Administration series, which students can take for class credit. The series is now in its tenth year.

Edward Freel, policy scientist in the Institute for Public Administration and instructor in the School of Public Policy and Administration, who organizes the lecture series as part of the class he teaches, introduced the congressman.

Carney began by speaking a little about his own educational background and experience. He was interested in a post-graduate research assistantship somewhere on the East Coast. After a stint as an assistant football coach at Penn, he came to UD with the idea of working alongside legendary football coach Tubby Raymond by coaching the freshman team. This didn't pan out, but he did enter UD's master's program in public administration.

Going to UD was a turning point for me, Carney insisted. He was subsequently selected to be part of what was then, in 1985, a relatively new Legislative Fellows Program. Carney said that this experience really lit my fire for helping people. Every day [in Legislative Hall] they were voting on issues that would affect people's lives.

Carney talked about his first high-profile position within the state of Delaware - as secretary of finance -- and reflected on how important finance is in policy-making. Policy gets made in the budget, he said.

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UD 'center of excellence'

Moving toward his lecture's focus on the green economy, Carney emphasized that global climate change drives much of the conversation around green energy. He touted UD as a center of excellence in environmental and energy policy and mentioned several well-respected faculty members who have contributed to green-energy research and development -- John Byrne, Allen Barnett, and Willett Kempton. UD is a real leader [in this area], Carney said.

Carney said, Renewal energy offers a tremendous opportunity to create jobs and whole new industries, but lamented that the U.S. is currently losing its edge to Europe and China.

Carney cited General Motors as an example of job loss over time. There was an old saying in this country, Carney said. As goes General Motors, so goes the nation. Today GM has only about 52,000 employees here in the U.S., down from 450,000 in 1979. In China, GM now employs about 38,000 workers.

In characterizing the downturn locally, Carney mentioned the loss of the GM Boxwood Road plant in Wilmington as an example of how loss of manufacturing jobs, coupled with a recession, has devastated the economy.

Green-energy manufacturing jobs

Carney said that green-energy manufacturing jobs hold promise, not only for Delaware but for the nation. He commented that Fisker is now manufacturing hybrid electric cars at the former GM plant in Delaware. He stated that green energy represents a $6 trillion market globally.

This past election year brought 90 new members into Congress, and Carney said that some of them do not accept the science behind climate change.

However, Carney said, while America is debating whether global climate change is real and defunding scientific inquiry, China has already made its 'bet' by investing heavily in green energy. Carney gave a recent example of a plant in Massachusetts that was being bought out by China. The difference was in the wages -- $300 per month in China vs. $5,400 per month in the U.S.

We have a great opportunity to create jobs in Delaware as wind-turbine energy takes off, Carney said. He added that companies in Delaware should try to make component parts, as Delaware can be competitive with other states for these jobs. The key, Carney insisted, is for Delaware to move quickly by attracting one of the two manufacturers of wind turbines -- General Electric (off-shore) and Clipper (on-shore).

In his recent State of the Union address, President Barack Obama urged the nation to win the future and out-innovate, out-educate, and out-build with regard to the green-energy infrastructure.

Creating jobs

Carney believes the next 5-10 years will be really critical for the country, as it gets budget deficits in order and the government sets conditions within which private business can create jobs. He said that this country should encourage the conditions that will create jobs in America. It is his position, though, that the U.S. cannot continue to be economic world leader by adding high-power manufacturing jobs at the expense of exporting so many lower-skill-level manufacturing jobs overseas -- for example, allowing the manufacturing of laundry washers to be outsourced but retaining high-skill-level jobs such as aircraft manufacturing.

Carney issued a call to action. We need to get busy on the policy front, he insisted. Again he emphasized, Policies and priorities are translated in the budget.

Article by Mark Deshon and Stephanie Patterson Photos by Mark Deshon

Originally published by UDaily.

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