The promises of pie-in-the-sky liberal environmentalists that we can convert to “clean” energy sources and stimulate our economy are based on dubious environmental and economic assumptions, fantastic notions about alternative energy, and a disturbing acceptance of the tyrannies inherent in command-control economies.
It would be bad enough if President Obama and his Democratic allies were pushing budget-busting green energy solutions during an economic boom and times of a manageable national debt. But it’s inconceivable that they would do so under the current dire fiscal circumstances.
They begin with the assumption that we have an urgent need to restructure our energy sources for environmental, economic and national security reasons. It’s interesting they don’t see the same urgency in our looming entitlement crisis — a menace that will swallow our entire budget in a few generations, absent major reform.
They attempt to bolster that assumption by manipulating the playing field to deliberately suppress our production of oil and nuclear energy and then claim we have a catastrophic supply problem. To be sure, our supply of oil isn’t unlimited, but if Democrats got off their pristine high horses about domestic oil production, the problem would be considerably mitigated. A logical first step would be to admit they are smothering production, an objectively provable fact about which the president brazenly prevaricated earlier this week.
We know Democrats are philosophically comfortable with using their power to artificially skew demand in favor of their preferred sources of energy. During the presidential campaign, Obama boasted that opening a coal-fired plant would be a bankrupting proposition, and he has otherwise allowed as how he has no problem with gas prices increasing (so people will be forced to consume less). His transportation secretary, Ray LaHood, has said he wants to coerce us out of our cars, and the administration is prepared to bludgeon this society into some high-speed rail system.
We also know that they intend to foist their environmental edicts on us irrespective of the damage they would almost certainly cause to our economy and standard of living. The Heritage Foundation has calculated that the Waxman-Markey cap-and-trade bill would create an average annual cost for a family of four of almost $3,000 from 2012 through 2035, during which it would also reduce gross domestic product by an average of $393 billion annually, for a cumulative loss of $9.4 trillion. (We must remember that the cost of energy affects the costs of many goods we consume, so increases in energy costs will certainly increase the costs of many other goods.) If these things don’t make your jaw drop, then consider that the projected effects of the legislation’s global warming-deterring measures would be to reduce the Earth’s temperature by merely 0.1 to 0.2 degree Celsius by 2100.
But now President Obama tells us he wants to invest billions of borrowed dollars in clean energy that would not only bring us Utopian environmental benefits but also — voila — create untold green jobs. There is not even a consensus on what constitutes a green job, but we certainly can’t be expected to place our faith in an administration to artificially create permanent green jobs when its promises to create other jobs have failed miserably.
We are told to ignore our lying eyes, ears and brains — and especially the signals of the market — and believe that within no time, we could start supplying a major portion of our energy needs from wind turbines, solar panels and biofuels. Even though the nation’s smartest money managers — private entrepreneurs — have not been salivating to invest their hard-earned dollars in these alternative energy sources, we’re told that if the government forces the expenditure of money into these projects, we’ll see a payoff of our investments and a healthy profit to boot. We’re urged to commit the money of future generations based on the activists’ less-informed and wholly biased assurances.
This nation gets less than 1 percent of its energy from wind and solar power. When you throw in hydroelectric power, you’re still not above 3 percent. Also, wind and solar are significantly more expensive than our conventional energy sources — coal, natural gas and nuclear power — and have the added disadvantage that they do not operate continuously (without wind or sunshine), which makes our reliance on them more problematic.
These alternative sources are also not without controversy, as we saw with the flap over the proposed windmill in the late Ted Kennedy’s “backyard.” Ironically, these “clean” energy sources are not always so clean, e.g., hazardous waste is involved in the disposal of solar PV panels.
With all these unrealistic assumptions, dubious projected benefits, additional problems and complications, and enormous costs, one has to wonder why, apart from a blind faith in the secular religion of environmentalism, liberals are pushing these programs so vigorously.