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Why SCOTUS Decision on Healthcare is Good for Cleantech

I know that today people will be inundated with posts and stories that look to make stretch connections to the monumental and historic healthcare decision made today by the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS). So my apologies in advance, as I am about to join that chorus!

I believe that today’s decision is a positive thing for the cleantech industry for a few reasons. And so, here we go:

  1. Obama’s second term chances just increased: The SCOTUS decision is a major boost for President Obama and the Democrats heading into the November elections. Everyone should feel free to argue whether or not a second term would be a good thing for the country and the economy. However, no one can argue that with Democrats holding the White House and at least one chamber of Congress, clean technology companies have a much better chance of receiving regulatory, legislative and agency-spending support for renewable energy, energy efficiency and clean energy R&D. The healthcare decision is also his second populist win in a week after his decision on immigration was well received by most voters. Couple that with the fact that most people who benefit from the bill will be middle-class, low-income and young voters, and Obama just solidified his position with his base and with many independents heading into November.
  2. Energy just moved up the agenda list: The GOP will bluster about overturning the healthcare law, but without a supermajority in the Senate and the White House, they have zero chance of doing so. Given even the most optimistic GOP election projections have the Democrats with more than 40 votes in the Senate, there is almost no chance of a repeal. That means, this takes healthcare entirely off of the priority list for Obama in a second term and allows him to focus on one of the major unaccomplished platforms from his original candidacy: energy. When you couple with that the recent immigration decision that placated at least some critics of the lack of immigration reform, energy and the environment could become the cornerstone of a second Obama term.
  3. The DOE loan guarantee program failures now become a fringe issue: The more the news cycle focuses on things other than the flame out of DOE loan guarantee recipients, the better off Cleantech is from a public and policy support standpoint. For example, the coverage of Solyndra and others has created the perception that the entire solar industry is a failure, despite the fact that solar adoption in the US has never been higher and downstream companies are doing REALLY well. The media has a myopic focus on solar module companies as synonymous with solar PV as a whole. Module margins are not a good indication of the health of the industry any more than disk drive margins are an indication of the health of the PC industry. Shipments yes, margins no.

So while the SCOTUS decision will dominate the debate cycles during this election season, clean technology companies will see a boost in their chances to have a favorable policy environment for the next four years. Now granted, a lot of things can happen between now and November, but there is no downside to the Supreme Court decision for clean technology companies in the near term.

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Jason Morris

Jason Morris

Executive Vice President at MSLGROUP

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