If it were given coverage in right wing news programs and journals, it would surely be framed as just another “socialist” project by by Sen. Sanders, or perhaps another more creative theory would be developed to render it anti-American and a violation of American liberty. Indeed, the only time renewable energy issues seem to penetrate the collective consciousness of the extreme right is when it can be used as an offensive weapon against a politician, as Solyndra was used to attack President Obama.
The fact of the matter is that Sanders’ bill would equip small communities with the tools and resources to develop solar panels, with the goal of solar primacy in the world economy, not to mention the creation of jobs. And it’s helpful to note that Sanders’ chief co-sponsor was Senator John Boozman (R-AR), the chairman and ranking member of the Senate Green Jobs and New Economy Subcommittee.
According to the bill’s official summary, it will “establish a program to provide competitive grants and/or challenge grants to local governments that have adopted best practices for solar permitting for properties located in the United States,” and authorize “the use of funds for competitive grants.” It would also make the training and development of “materials and tools” for the local permitting process “more standardized, efficient, and less expensive.” All of which seems like rather good ideas.
The bill passed through the U.S. Senate’s Energy and Natural Resources Committee on December 15th, 2011 by a 13-8 vote.
Next up is a full Senate vote.