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Sunday, December 18, 2011

We always knew it

Whitehouse Emerging as Environmental 'Star'

By TIM FAULKNER/ecoRI News staff
Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., keeps company with some high-profile liberal coworkers in a recent plea from them seeking to increase domestic investment in renewable energy.
In a letter published Dec. 16 in the Huffington Post and on the environmental website Grist, Whitehouse shares the byline and is included in a photo collage with Senators John Kerry, D-Mass., Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and Barbara Boxer, D-Calif. Grist refers to the Washington lawmakers as "star senators."
The letter takes exception to negative press surrounding the high-profile bankruptcy of solar manufacturer Solyndra, noting that global investment in renewable energy is exceeding the money spent on fossil-fuel power plants. 



Wind and solar sectors also are growing rapidly in the United States, prompting the senators to suggest that "the question is not whether renewable energy is creating jobs; it is which country is going to lead the clean energy jobs revolution. We want it to be America."
The foursome urge a one-year extension of a federal Treasury grant program that converts wind and solar tax credits into grants that help fund private-sector renewable energy projects.
Whitehouse has been drawing attention this year for his outspoken support for renewable energy and environmental causes. In October, Whitehouse gave a much-acclaimed speech about the "dark hand" big businesses wields to prevent environmental regulations.

Whitehouse, who is running for re-election in 2012, struck a similar note during a Nov. 17 hearing with the American Chemistry Council. (See minute 107.)
His outspoken orations have stirred plenty of controversy. A Dec. 20, 2009 Senate speech targeting opponents of the Affordable Care Act received significant criticism from Republican-leaning media both nationally and in Rhode Island.
In addition to the Dec. 16 letter, Whitehouse took the lead on the same day by sending another letter, signed by 15 other senators, to President Obama. The group urged Obama to enforce an EPA rule requiring the use of new technology for cutting mercury and other pollutants from power-plant emissions. Media reports indicated that the rule was in fact approved by its Dec. 16 deadline. Despite the resistance from many big energy polluters, National Grid was one of 11 utilities to support the regulation.