Going Broke by Going Green

Harry R. Jackson, Jr.

1/13/2011 12:01:00 AM - Harry R. Jackson, Jr.

Editor's note: This article was co-authored by Harry Jackson, Jr. and Niger Innis.

President Obama’s healthcare program came under intense scrutiny in 2010. As we enter 2011, we need to open our eyes to what is really going on behind his green energy propaganda, as well. To some, it may not seem as desperate an issue as healthcare, but it will grow to become just as devastating to those citizens among us who are poor, because access to affordable energy affects everything we do.

The administration’s green policies are being thrust into a precarious American economy. Every “green scenario” shows raised energy costs across the board. Not only will the average person pay more for energy; many will lose their jobs as the forced transition to alternative power sources rocks the stability of current energy-producing and energy-using companies.

Skyrocketing energy prices and lost jobs also mean millions of otherwise healthy Americans are subjected to new health threats: higher air conditioning, heating, transportation and other energy bills. For those who cannot afford the increased costs, this can mean death from heat stroke and hypothermia; reduced budgets for healthy food, proper healthcare, home and car repairs, college, retirement, and charitable giving; and psychological depression that accompanies economic depression.

Land withdrawals and leasing and permitting delays don’t just lock up vast energy storehouses. They kill jobs, eliminate billions in government bonus, rent, royalty and tax revenues – and force us to spend other billions to import more oil that we could produce right here at home.

The White House agenda represents a double power grab. It usurps state, local and private sector control over energy prices and generation, and gives it to unelected Washington bureaucrats. It also seizes our reliable, affordable energy, and replaces it with expensive, intermittent power.

While many Americans are duped into thinking renewable energy sources are the ticket to a clean world, they have not looked at the downside to these energy sources. Replacing fossil fuel power with coerced renewable energy means millions of acres will be covered with turbines and solar panels, and built with billions of tons of concrete, steel, copper, fiberglass and rare earth metals. It means millions of acres of forest and crop land will be converted to farming for inefficient biofuels that also require vast inputs of water, pesticides, fertilizers and hydrocarbon fuels.

Moreover, wind and solar facilities work only 10-30 percent of the time, compared to 90-95 percent for coal, gas and nuclear power plants. Even worse, prolonged cold is almost invariably associated with high atmospheric pressure, and thus very little wind. On December 21, 2010 – one of the coldest days on record for Yorkshire, England (undoubtedly due to global warming) – the region’s coal, gas and nuclear power plants generated 53,000 megawatts of electricity; its wind turbines provided a measly 20 MW, or 0.04% of the total. The same high pressure, no wind scenario happens on the hottest summer days.

“Renewable” and “clean” energy projects received $30 billion in subsidies under the gargantuan stimulus bill. They got another $3 billion in the “lame duck” tax deal. Federal wind power subsidies are $6.44 per million BTUs – dozens of times what coal and natural gas receive, to generate 1/50 of the electricity that coal does. At current and foreseeable coal and gas prices, wind (and solar) simply cannot compete.

As to “green” jobs, Competitive Enterprise Institute energy analyst Chris Horner calculates that the stimulus bill’s subsidies for wind and solar mean taxpayers are billed $475,000 for each job created. Texas Comptroller Susan Combs reports that property tax breaks for wind projects in her state cost nearly $1.6 million per job. “Green energy” is simply unsustainable, environmentally and economically.

President Obama and EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson may be convinced that we face a manmade climate change crisis, and unacceptable health risks from power plant and refinery emissions. However, their “climate science” is little more than a self-proving theory: no matter what happens – hotter or colder, wetter or drier, more storms or fewer – it’s “proof” of global warming.

Thousands of scientists say there is yet no real evidence that we face such a crisis, and most coal-fired power plants and refineries have already reduced their harmful emissions to the point that only the most sensitive or health-impaired would be harmed.

The problem is not runaway global warming. It is a runaway and unaccountable federal bureaucracy.

Putting the green power grab into even sharper focus are these eye-opening comments from two “socially responsible” CEOs, who have lobbied the Congress, EPA and White House intensely for cap-tax-and-trade, far tougher emission policies and still more subsidies. We thank the Wall Street Journal for bringing them to our attention. EPA’s regulations “increase operating costs for coal-fired generators and ultimately increase the price of energy” for families and companies that need electricity," observed Exelon CEO John Rowe. “The upside for Exelon is unmistakable. Exelon’s clean [mostly nuclear] generation will continue to grow in value in a relatively short time. We are of course positioning our portfolio to capture that value.”

“Even without legislation in Congress, EPA is marching forward in terms of regulating carbon dioxide,” noted Lewis Hay, CEO of NextEra Energy, America’s largest producer of wind and solar power. “That puts us in a very good position.”

The Journal summarized the situation succinctly in a recent editorial: “The EPA is abusing environmental law to achieve policy goals that the democratic process rejected, while also engineering a transfer of wealth from the 25 states in the Midwest and South that get more than 50 percent of their electricity from coal. The industry beneficiaries [of these destructive regulations] then pretend that this agenda is nothing more than a stroll around Walden Pond, when it’s really about lining their own pockets.”

It is time to face reality. Misnamed “green energy” policies severely undermine any opportunity America may have to rebuild her economy. Perpetuating current jobless rates would be just the tip of the iceberg, if we follow the path that EPA and the White House have laid in front of us.

Let your legislators know that you do not support the White House’s current green programs. We cannot afford to go broke trying to go green.