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Obama's 'Green' Energy Plan Infringes on Liberty

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.

Most Americans are likely to agree that is it important to preserve the environment for future generations. Whether individuals believe in the global warming hysteria or not, we all tend to value a society with an abundance of clean air and fresh water. Unfortunately, trendy environmentalists are more inclined to use the power of government to force individuals to live a greener lifestyle. Often times, these well-intended “green” initiatives have harmful unintended consequences. In order to help protect the environment while not infringing on individual liberties, America must seek to promote free market environmental solutions that will add jobs to our economy.

Since the 2008 campaign trail, Obama has been claiming that his overall “green” plan would create 5 million green jobs over the next 10 years. However, Obama’s “green” agenda will kill more jobs than it aims to create.

According to the U.S Chamber of Commerce, the House passed “green” cap and trade bill will cost a net loss of 3.2 million jobs by 2030. The intention behind the misguided bill is to reduce carbon emissions by taxing some energy sources. While the Cap and Trade bill will create some new jobs, the “green” bill will take away $22 billion annually from the private sector.

Consequently, cap and trade will destroy more jobs in the energy sector while preventing the creation of new jobs in other private industries.

In numerous speeches, President Obama has stated that America’s energy policy should be modeled after Europe’s failed “green energy” project.

During a speech in Ohio, Obama claimed that countries in Europe have superior energy policies, “And think of what’s happening in countries like Spain, Germany and Japan, where they’re making real investments in renewable energy. They’re surging ahead of us, poised to take the lead in these new industries.”

In reality, Europe’s experiments with government subsidized renewable energy and “green” jobs have been a costly disaster. A study by King Juan Carlos University in Madrid reveals that at least 2.2 jobs are destroyed in Spain for every “green” job created. Moreover, only one of ten jobs created turned into permanent jobs. Taxpayers were also forced to pay $774,000 for every single “green” job created. Yet, the study does not even mention the job losses due to industries moving out of the country to escape high energy prices. Since Spain has one of the highest unemployment rates in Europe at 20 percent, their “green” jobs program has clearly failed to “surge ahead of us.”

Additionally, the Obama-endorsed “green” initiative in Germany has caused significant economic troubles. The German think tank Rheinisch-Westfälisches Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung has released a study revealing that German taxpayers pay $240,000 to fund a single “green” job. All of the “green” jobs created by the government are temporary jobs that will cease to exist once the federal funding stops. While Germany leads the world in solar panel installation, the study found that subsidizing “green” jobs had a number of offsetting impacts including job losses, higher electricity prices and crowding out more efficient energy generation.

America should strive to learn from Europe’s failed “green” jobs experiment. Instead of implementing a similar initiative, we should follow the Reagan administration’s 1981 energy plan which read “all Americans are involved in making energy policy. When individual choices are made with a maximum of personal understanding and a minimum of government restraints, the result is the most appropriate energy policy.”

All energy sources should be allowed to freely compete so that consumers can choose the form of energy that we want to use. In order to help expand green energy, it is vital to remove unnecessary regulatory red tape that deters private investment. The expanded role of government in “green” initiatives has crowded out private investment in energy-efficient products.

Most importantly, Obama’s proposed European-style “green” agenda infringes on individual liberty. Americans should be free to invest in the energy type of their choosing. However, subsidizing “green” jobs will force taxpayers to use their hard-earned money to involuntarily support initiatives that will potentially destroy jobs and increase energy costs.

Morally, we should not use the power of government to force environmental values on others. If we truly want to make a positive human impact on the environment while respecting liberty, we should lead by example and allow individuals the choice to support green energy with their own money.

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