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Politicians grapple over U.S.'s ability to compete with China

Politicians grapple over U.S.'s ability to compete with China

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The White House has seized upon remarks by a Republican Congressman who said that the United States is incapable of competing against China to produce renewable energy technologies.

Longtime Congressman Cliff Stearns opposes subsidizing domestic development of solar and wind technologies.

The Obama administration has seized upon comments by House Republican Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-FL), who suggested that the U.S. is incapable of competing against China to produce renewable energy technologies.

"We can't compete with China to make solar panels and wind turbines," Stearns told NPR on Monday. The U.S. should instead prioritize its R&D efforts where it is “winning,” he said.

Stearns is the chair of an energy and commerce subcommittee that is overseeing an investigation into the administration’s financing of the failed solar power start-up Solyndra. He has a history of advocating "clean" coal and nuclear power.

The Department of Energy’s media team shopped Stearns’ remarks to Politico, and sought to contrast the administration’s stance that the U.S can win the energy race to “those who want to wave the white flag and surrender," in an e-mail.

Stearns’ quote was contrasted with Energy Secretary Steven Chu’s remarks Saturday at a domestic solar industry trade show. (Note to the DOE - call next time)

“…They’re here to win the clean energy race. … It’s not enough for our country to invent clean energy technologies — we have to make them and use them too. Invented in America, made in America and sold around the world — that’s how we’ll create good jobs and lead in the 21st century,” Chu said.

The Obama administration has investigated China for allegedly illegally subsidizing its renewable energy industry. In turn, China halted shipments of rare earth minerals that are requisite to manufacture renewable energy technologies to the United States.

Should the U.S. be subsidizing domestic production of solar and wind technologies? What do you think?

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David Worthington

Contributing Editor

David Worthington has written for BetaNews, eWeek, PC World, Technologizer and ZDNet. Formerly, he was a senior editor at SD Times. He holds a business degree from Temple University. He is based in New York. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure