Standing up for clean energy

Friday, December 3, 2010; 6:15 PM

Michael A. Fletcher's Nov. 22 front-page article, "Retrained for green jobs, but still waiting on work," painted an accurate picture of the lack of green jobs in Florida, but by doing so it presented a misleading picture of the renewable energy industry.

Had he chosen to look in Colorado, Iowa, Texas and other states, he would have found success stories of green jobs that would have led him and your readers to the opposite conclusion - that green jobs are taking root in America.

Any journalist can shoot at a young industry for lack of jobs. The personal computer industry in 1980 had few jobs, the cellphone industry in 1985 had few jobs, the Internet industry in 1995 had few jobs and, yes, the renewable energy industry in 2010 has few jobs - but all were and are experiencing tremendous growth. They are set to employ a major percentage of U.S. workers in the future.

Consider these statistics: The U.S. coal mining industry employs 80,000 people today. The U.S. wind power industry employs 80,000 people today. Which one is growing? Which one has the brighter future?

The renewable energy glass is half full and getting fuller. Our competitors' glasses are half empty and getting emptier.

Michael T. Eckhart, Washington

The writer is president of the American Council on Renewable Energy.


It was disappointing to see a photograph on the Nov. 29 Style section front perpetuating a fear that has been widely documented to be a myth. The photo ran with Ann Hornaday's story, "Oscar documentary shortlist: Shoo-ins and snubs," and depicted a flaming faucet falsely linked to natural gas drilling.

The photo was a screen grab from the film "Gasland." The scene in question was so misleading that the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission felt compelled to set the record straight. The commission issued a detailed statement noting the film's factual flaws and stating, " 'Gasland' incorrectly attributes several cases of water well contamination in Colorado to oil and gas development . . . ."

People develop strongly held beliefs based on what they see in movies and on television. It is important that conclusions related to U.S. energy policy be based on facts.

The facts are that natural gas development can and does exist in harmony with our environment, that the natural gas industry is committed to the safe and responsible development of this abundant resource, and that natural gas offers a clean, domestic energy source that can help solve our energy challenges for many generations to come.

Tom Amontree, Washington

The writer is executive vice president of America's Natural Gas Alliance.

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