Renewable energy summit answers student concerns

By Alexis Schulz

 

Professor and chair of the political science department Michael Brogan discusses the efficiency of renewable energy.
Professor and chair of the political science department Michael Brogan discusses the efficiency of renewable energy.

While electric cars have become more cost efficient, and solar and wind energy have become more mainstream, questions on the continuation of renewable energy arise with the election of Donald Trump as president.

Doug O’Malley, Environment New Jersey; Lyle Rawlings, Mid Atlantic Solar Energy Industries Association; and Michael Brogan, professor and chair of the political science department, answered student and faculty questions about renewable energy and the election of Trump on Nov. 17 at Rider.

“I’m continuing to get questions of ‘What now for the environment?’ ‘What now for clean energy or climate change?’” said O’Malley. “You cannot veto innovation or scientific progress. You certainly can’t boot out our office climate science. It’s up to us what climate action is going to be in the coming months and years of the Trump administration.”

According to O’Malley, when talking about renewable energy and climate change, air pollution and ozone standards come into play. Most counties in New Jersey are out of compliance with ozone standards, including Mercer County.

“The amount of pediatric asthma rates in the state have tripled over the last decade; we’ve seen it become in some ways normalized, where your classmates have inhalers and that’s not how it always used to be,” he said. “We have close to 800,000 people in the state who suffer from asthma; close to 200,000 are children. We must remember that when we’re talking about clean, renewable energy. We’re talking about climate change, we’re talking about the impacts right now for New Jersey and air pollution has got to be one of the top ones.”

There is a Renewable Energy Transition Act currently in the legislature that would benefit renewable energy in New Jersey, according to Rawlings.

“There are many things that would have to be done to make this act possible but New Jersey can support it,” he said.“The renewable energy transition act not only has 80 percent renewable electricity by 2050 but also 30 percent reduction in energy conservation and there are a bunch of other things we have to do to make this work,” he said. “We need to build new infrastructure to be able to handle this solar and wind power that we would build offshore of the state.”

Brogan said that although many may be upset about the outcome of the election, students can get energized because now they all have something to fight for.

“There is an importance in empowering our future and getting involved,” he said. “There is a benefit to the Trump administration in that they will get us energized. It’s going to get us ready every day because, you know, it’s a fight and all the things that we push forward are at risk. This is a great thing and with students because the issues that are important for me are important for you but ultimately this is our future.”

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