While the United States destroys its economic position by pursuing the short-term profit motives of the fossil fuel and nuclear industries, Abu Dhabi, within the United Arab Emirates, is decisively and strategically moving to accelerate development of renewable technology by using expertise from our own university system. The idea is to create a "world-class research and development hub for new (renewable) energy technologies" for export.

Thanks to influence peddling by the fossil fuel, nuclear and utility industries in Congress and state legislatures, the United States could soon be importing renewable and other advanced zero-carbon technology imports along with oil imports from the Middle East. So much for energy independence!

"Renewed economic growth in the mid-1970s was achieved without growth in energy demand."

Prior to the oil embargo of 1973, the prevailing wisdom among economists was that economic growth and growth in energy demand went hand-in-hand. In response to the embargo, however, the U.S. government began to support energy efficiency measures. As a result, renewed economic growth in the mid-1970s was achieved without growth in energy demand.

What have we done with that knowledge and the vast advantages of energy efficiency investments? We have, by and large, squandered them along with the opportunity to create millions of jobs.

At one time the United States was at the pinnacle of wind turbine technology and was the largest producer of solar photovoltaic cells in the world.

What have we done with those advantages? We have squandered them along with the opportunity to create millions of jobs.

In terms of energy incentives that range from research and development to subsidies to direct assistance over the last 50 years, an analysis by Management Information Services Inc. conducted in 2007 estimated that fossil fuels and commercial nuclear, both mature industries, received 83 percent of the incentives. Solar, wind and biomass received only 5.1 percent combined.

"Gov. Mitch Daniels talked green during the election campaign, but his energy legislation continues to focus almost exclusively on expensive, dirty coal plants."

Instead of pursuing an energy policy path that would bring enormous wealth to our country, vastly improve environmental quality and public health, and address global warming in an economically fruitful way, we have sacrificed jobs, our health and the environment on behalf of the fossil fuel and nuclear industries.

Hopefully, we'll soon see a major shift in energy policy from Washington D.C. We're going to need it here in Indiana because Gov. Mitch Daniels talked green during the election campaign, but his energy legislation continues to focus almost exclusively on expensive, dirty coal plants, except for his interest in the construction of an additional 1,000 megawatt nuclear unit at a $10 billion cost to ratepayers.

Like many in Congress, Gov. Daniels just doesn't get it. The truth is this: The taxpayer and ratepayer wallet are one in the same. If you want to bolster the economy, you have to support policies and programs that improve the financial standing of those on the ratepayer side of the electric and gas meter. You can't build a strong economy by supporting utility and coal companies, which inevitably raise utility rates through the roof.

Grant Smith is executive director of Citizens Action Coalition of Indiana. He can be reached at gsmith@citact.org.