Jonah Goldberg

It was interesting while it lasted. But it looks like the "green revolution" has entered the long slide into "What was all that about?"

In January, the Spanish government removed absurdly lavish subsidies for its renewable energy industry, and the renewable energy industry all but imploded. You could say it was never a renewable energy industry at all. It was a government subsidy industry where in exchange for creating conscience-soothing but otherwise inefficient windmills and solar panels, the government gave the makers piles of cash consumers never would.

"They destroyed the Spanish market overnight with the moratorium (on subsidies)," European Wind Energy Association CEO Christian Kjaer told Bloomberg News.

The reason the Spanish example is so important is that it demonstrates how the whole green energy "revolution" was really an ideologically driven green boondoggle from the start.

At the beginning of his administration, President Obama insisted that if we didn't follow their lead, we would surrender the hugely profitable renewable energy sector to those sagacious Spaniards. In 2009, researchers at King Juan Carlos University found that Spain had destroyed 2.2 jobs in other industries for every green job it created. It also calculated that the Spanish government has spent more than half a million euros for each green job created since 2000, while wind industry jobs cost more than 1 million euros apiece.

When asked about the study, then-White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs responded that he hadn't read it, but, "It seems weird that we're importing wind turbine parts from Spain in order to build -- to meet renewable energy demand here if that were even remotely the case."

Let's cut Gibbs & Co. some slack. These were the days before the White House learned there were no shovel-ready jobs, before they discovered that their "investments" in companies like Solyndra were little better than shoveling taxpayer dollars into an industrial mulcher. So it shouldn't surprise anyone that Gibbs would find it "weird" that our own domestic phylum of subsidy-seeking sucker fish might want to buy Spain's artificially cheap products in a scheme to feed off domestic subsidies here at home.

The evidence that this administration put cronyism and ideology ahead of reality is all around us. "Since 2009," reports the Wall Street Journal, "the Obama administration has awarded more than $1 billion to American companies to make advanced batteries for electric vehicles. Halfway to a six-year goal of producing one million electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles, auto makers are barely at 50,000 cars." Well, that leaves just 950,000 cars to go.


Jonah Goldberg

Jonah Goldberg is editor-at-large of National Review Online,and the author of the book The Tyranny of Clichés. You can reach him via Twitter @JonahNRO.
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