The first week of October marked a milestone in the Obama Administration's efforts to shift the country's energy policy toward alternative and renewable sources. The Secretary of the Interior signed a lease with Cape Wind Associates to develop a 130-turbine wind farm off Cape Cod. Interior also issued permits to construct two large solar plants on federal lands in the Imperial Valley and Mojave Desert in California. The projects are funded by Department of Energy loan guarantees issued under the 2009 Stimulus bill. The Administration released plans for a joint rulemaking by the Department of Transportation and the Environmental Protection Agency that would require car makers to increase the average fuel economy of their autos to 60 mpg by 2025.
Each action has a close counterpart in the Carter Administration. The fate of those earlier initiatives has much to teach us about the current round of projects.