By Ashleigh Denton (Ecoseed.org) - Traditionally, the United States has produced the majority of its energy from the burning of fossil fuels. Petroleum, which is used for gasoline, and coal, which is burned as a fuel in power plants, provide nearly 60 percent of the energy that the United States requires every year. Fossil fuels have typically been the cheapest way to produce energy, an important consideration for a country that consumes vast amounts of power.
However, the burning of fossil fuels produces a variety of harmful effects on the environment, such as air pollution, water contamination and global warming. These extra costs, which are known as externalities, are not included in the market price of fossil fuels.
Because of the negative consequences of fossil fuels, President Obama has looked to increase the use of green energy sources, such as wind and solar power, in the United States. In his proposed 2013 federal budget, President Obama wants to increase spending on renewable energy programs by nearly 30 percent.
With the recent increase in gasoline prices, which many analysts now expect to reach $4 per gallon within the next few months, President Obama has renewed his push to encourage investment in alternative energy sources. However, after the failure of Solyndra, a bankrupt manufacturer of solar panels that received over $500 million in loan guarantees from the government, the political environment in Washington has turned against alternative energy investment. Continue reading