WASHINGTON Dec 7 The United States onTuesday
launched a new drive to boost exports of renewable energy
products with a warning from Commerce Secretary Gary Locke that
the United States could lose jobs in that area because Congress
has not passed an energy policy.
"The longer we wait, the more the Chinese, the Germans and
others will be moving along," Locke said at the first meeting
of a new private sector advisory committee charged with
developing an export expansion plan.
"In a few years, we're going to wake up and say, 'How is it
that Berlin and Shanghai have become the equivalent of Silicon
Valley in clean energy with all the jobs?,'" he said.
The United States exported at least $2 billion of solar,
wind, biomass, geothermal, hydropower and other renewable
energy products in 2009, compared to $1.26 billion in 2007.
But it ran a significant trade deficit in the combined
sectors, with imports of wind power equipment alone totaling
more than $3.67 billion in 2009.
The U.S. Steelworkers Union accuses China of using unfair
trade practices and subsidies to support its renewable energy
sector and wants U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk to take
action against Beijing at the World Trade Organization.
A decision on the union's request is due by Jan 15, just
shortly before Chinese President Hu Jintao will be in
Washington for talks with President Barack Obama.
Locke did not address that issue onTuesday, but noted China's
commitment to all types of renewable energy.
"The Chinese are putting in almost $12 billion a month in
the clean energy sector ... They're doing this because they
really want to be the world's supplier of clean energy and they
recognize this will support millions of jobs," Locke said.
He also criticized Congress for failing to pass
comprehensive energy legislation, but said the Obama
administration would do as much it could with existing
authority to foster renewable energy growth.
The administration's new advisory committee includes
executives from U.S. renewable energy firms including GE
(GE.N), Southwest Windpower, Suniva, United Solar Ovonics and
Covanta Energy and from a number of industry associations.
The U.S. Export-Import Bank said it would increase support
for renewable energy, energy efficiency and other
environmentally beneficial exports as part of the Obama
"Over the past two years, our financing in these sectors
has more than doubled to approximately $500 million in fiscal
year 2010, and we look forward to continuing this growth,"
Ex-Im Bank President Fred Hochberg said in a statement.
The U.S. initiative came as almost 200 nations were meeting
in Cancun, Mexico to discuss what steps the international
community should take to tackle global warming.
(Reporting by Doug Palmer; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)