Former Upstate Congressman Bob Inglis said Wednesday the way to the nations energy future is to eliminate all subsidies for new, clean technologies while at the same time attaching the cost of pollution, global warming and wars to the price of fossil fuels.
If the cost of the wars in the Middle East were included in the price of gasoline wed beat a path to the Prius dealership, he said, referring to the high-mileage hybrid car made by Toyota.
Inglis comments came at South Carolinas first ever Clean Energy Summit, held in Columbia, where he was the keynote speaker. Inglis who is poised to begin taking his message across the nation advocated letting market forces solve the nations energy and climate challenges. But at the same time, he said politicians and other Americans need to realize that climate change is a scientific reality that is costing the country money and leading to health problems for Americans.
We dont have a true cost comparison for the continued use of fossil fuels versus using new technologies, he said.
As a Republican congressman representing the conservative Greenville-Spartanburg district from 1993-1999 and from 2005-2010, Inglis embraced climate science commonly referred to as global warming. He lost the 2010 GOP primary to now-Rep. Trey Gowdy and blamed his defeat on the district moving farther to the right, which he chose not to do when it came to the issues of climate change and health costs related to pollution.
Its better to lose a political race than lose your soul, he said.
Inglis is now head of a conservative campaign to draw more attention to clean energy and climate change.
Earlier this week, George Mason University said the Republican would lead its Energy and Enterprise Initiative at the schools Center for Climate Change Communication near Washington. The program plans to hold forums around the country that bring together economists, national security experts and climate scientists to explore ways to use free enterprise to solve the nations energy and climate challenges.
Inglis called the one-day summit which drew national experts in clean energy fields an important next step in building South Carolinas clean-energy industry.
The event was sponsored by the S.C. Clean Energy Business Alliance in partnership with the S.C. Solar Council, the S.C. Biomass Council, the S.C. Recycling Coalition, Palmetto State Clean Fuels Coalition, S.C. Chapter of the U.S. Green Building Council, and the Wind Regulatory Task Force.
The alliances executive director, Tom French, noted that clean energy firms today employ 14,000 people in the state.
And I think we can go 10 times that many jobs in the future, he said. South Carolina is at a critical point in its history.
Inglis said that the perception that electricity from coal-fired power plants which provides half of South Carolinas electricity is cheaper than alternatives such as wind and solar is a myth, akin to believing in the tooth fairy.
When the cost of health care from pollution and the climactic costs of climate change are taken into consideration, the alternatives are more cost effective. He said that 23,600 people die each year from lung damage due to air pollution, along with 3 million lost work days from people who become sick.
There is no free lunch, he said.