The good times are back. The U.S. economy is performing at levels not seen in more than a decade, with unemployment at its lowest level in a lifetime.
Still, it wasn’t all that long ago when crude was selling for more than $100 a barrel and people were talking seriously about the problem of “peak oil.” The growing global demand for energy made from fossil fuels has U.S. policymakers pushing hard for subsidies intended to accelerate the development and commercialization of energy alternatives mace from agricultural products and coming from the wind and the sun.
The American faith in technology is almost never misplaced. The fracking revolution has turned the U.S. into a net energy exporter. The explosion in the use of natural gas and the development of microgrids powered by it in liquid form have made cheap power a reality once again, without the widespread adoption of renewables. Policymakers, though, have yet to come to grips with the reality and are, under pressure from special interests, trying to keep Bush/Obama-era energy policies in place that do more harm than good.
In 2005, the U.S. Congress adopted the Solar Investment Tax Credit with an eye to speeding the commercial adoption of energy from the sun as a way to heat and cool the nation’s homes and businesses. Whether it helped or not is debatable yet there are calls, even now, to ensure its renewal past its intended expiration at the end of the year.
The renewable lobby is politically powerful, especially given the nexus between those invested in and those who make generous contributions to elected officials. Remember Solyndra? And yet, despite its spectacular failure – which left taxpayers on the hook for who really knows how much – the ITC was already reauthorized in 2015 for solar PV, solar water heating, solar space heating and cooling, and solar process heat.
Right now, under current law, the industry is set to benefit from a 30 percent tax credit extended to consumers who purchase systems used in both residential and commercial properties that are under construction before 2020. Beginning in 2022 the credit decreases, dropping to 10 percent and useful only in commercial settings.
That’s what policymakers agreed to in 2015 to mollify the demands of the green groups who still believe, or at least claim they do, that the nation’s base power needs can be met by renewables without utilizing either nuclear or fossil fuels.
Science tells us that is a pipe dream and will remain one until the technology to store the energy generated by solar fields over the medium term (never mind the long) exists. Battery technology has not yet caught up to the increases the solar and wind energy industries have managed to achieve, meaning lots of generated power is left stranded and unused.
Nonetheless, the demand for another increase in the ITC as well as an expansion of what is covered is being pressed on legislators. The last extension was part of the deal that allowed for the U.S. to enter the crude export market which, while bad policy, makes it worth the price paid.
There are no such opportunities for a similar trade on the table now. The greens will never drop their opposition to energy exploration in the Arctic National Wildlife or the construction of new pipelines to move crude and natural gas produced by fracking to market. And since there’s no opportunity to trade for good policy, the ITC should be allowed to expire, especially since there’s plenty of evidence it’s no longer needed.
Solar, the web site GreenTechMedia reports, “will soon be able to out-compete gas-fired plants around the world on a levelized cost basis.” Large investments from foreign-based solar module manufacturing companies such as Hanwha Q Cells have led to the opening of manufacturing facilities in the United States. And solar energy experienced explosive growth between 2010 and 2016.
According to GTM Research, annual installations grew from just 849 MW in 2010, to more than 15,000 MW in 2016, a record-breaking year when the U.S. solar market nearly doubled its annual record for installations – while tax incentives are factored into the growth, efficiency and affordability have driven the adoption of the technology.
If the ITC worked as intended, as there’s evidence to suggest it did, it’s not needed anymore. And if it didn’t work as those who voted for and voted to extend it planned, it’s also not needed anymore. Either way, it’s time for it to be allowed to expire, if for no other reason than to show members of Congress they can allow special interest tax breaks to disappear and survive when they run for re-election.
His ‘Clean Energy Revolution’ echoes Obama-Biden’s eco-failures.
Former vice president Joe Biden’s Clean Energy Revolution exploded on the launch pad Tuesday. Large, now-attributed passages of his manifesto against so-called global warming initially were lifted from other publications. Biden’s plagiarism recalled his flat-out theft of a speech by far-left British parliamentarian Neil Kinnock in 1987.
But Biden’s plan is far worse than just partially stolen. It confirms that the “centrist” Biden is just another big-government leftist, hooked on high taxes and reckless spending.
Biden’s Revolution is a $1.7 trillion tax hike. It enshrines his pitch to voters in South Carolina and elsewhere: “First thing I’d do is repeal those Trump tax cuts.” Biden pledges to rescind the tax relief that has resuscitated U.S. industry, revived 3.2 percent GDP growth, and reduced unemployment to 3.6 percent and historical or near-record lows for blacks, Hispanics, and women.
After siphoning $1.7 trillion from America’s productive sector, Biden would follow the liberal playbook: Assign Washington-based experts to redistribute this bounty more wisely and justly than the bedraggled American people ever could.
Biden, no surprise, recommends a Santa’s sleigh of “allocated tax credits and subsidies” for “sustainable” initiatives. The eco-crats will succeed next time. After all, Washington always learns from its mistakes. And mistakes multiplied as the Obama-Biden administration poured taxpayer cash into countless eco-brainstorms:
• $570 million dripped into solar-power company Solyndra. Then it went bankrupt. Obama-Biden financed 18 green companies that also died and were buried in the Heritage Foundation’s Green Energy Graveyard.
• $3 billion flowed into Cash for Clunkers. Americans traded their old automobiles for $4,500 each in federal outlays. This was supposed to create jobs in Detroit, as drivers bought new, fuel-efficient U.S. vehicles. While 38.5 percent of this program’s car purchases were domestic, J.D. Power estimated, 61.5 percent were foreign. Cash for Clunkers primarily enriched Japanese and Korean autoworkers.
• $34.7 billion cascaded from Obama-Biden’s Department of Energy into clean-tech companies. They created “nearly 60,000” jobs. Cost per post: $578,333.
Biden also offers what statists truly crave: control. They never are happier than when they can boss Americans around, from dawn to dusk.
“I fought along with President Obama,” Biden said in a video that accompanied his proposal, “for a Clean Power Plan that limited carbon emissions from both existing and new power plants.”
CPP’s reels of red tape were designed to hamstring existing energy suppliers, at injurious economic cost. Using data from Obama-Biden’s Energy Information Agency, I calculated that — between 2015 and 2040 — CPP would have:
• Slashed real GDP by $993 billion, or an annual average of $39.7 billion.
• Sliced real disposable income by $382 billion, or $15.3 billion yearly.
• Chopped manufacturing shipments by $1.13 trillion, or $45.4 billion per annum.
• Whacked 1.7 million manufacturing jobs, or 68,000 pink slips yearly.
And for what benefit?
EPA assumed no Chinese, Indian, or other cheating and forecast that Obama-Biden’s scheme would have shaved expected global warming by 0.02 degrees Fahrenheit by 2050. That’s like cranking a thermostat from 72 degrees way, way down to 71.98 degrees.
As Americans for Tax Reform reports, Biden also wants an “end-to-end high-speed rail system that will connect the coasts.” Ideally, a Japanese-style U.S. bullet train would zoom at 200 mph. Thus, today’s 2,450-mile, 4.5-hour, nonstop jet ride from Los Angeles to New York would last at least 12.25 hours on Bidentrak. (A 24.5-hour round trip would devour more than one entire transit day.) Why would anyone travel nearly three times more slowly by rail than air — assuming neither stops nor glitches?
Beyond staying in Delaware, Joe Biden’s Earth-friendliest move would be to recycle his Revolution and, instead, promote natural-gas production. Carbophobes should cheer this news: Thanks largely to gas fracking, U.S. carbon-dioxide emissions keep falling — down 13.4 percent from 2005 to 2016 and, BP estimates, another 0.82 percent in 2017, under President Donald Trump. Meanwhile, CO2 output rose 1.8 percent in 2017 across the climate-obsessed European Union. Natural gas cuts CO2 by 42 to 53 percent versus other fossil fuels, generates jobs, and has made America the world’s largest energy producer.1
Michael Malarkey contributed research to this opinion piece.
By Jim Geraghty • National Review
Take some time to peruse the “Green New Deal” in writing.
The deal includes a plan to “cut military spending by at least half” and withdraw U.S. troops from overseas.
The United States military currently has 1.3 million active-duty troops, with another 865,000 in reserve, and 680,000 civilian employees. Green New Deal advocates haven’t laid out exactly how many fewer personnel the U.S. military would have if spending was cut in half, but a military that was half the size of the current one would leave about 1.4 million personnel out of work. And remember, advocates of the Green New Deal pledged to cut military spending in “at least half.”
When there are no U.S. forces stationed in Europe, South Korea, Japan, or the Middle East, how much safer do you think those places get? Do you think conflict is more likely or less likely once all U.S. military personnel leave? Do you think China, North Korea, Iran, and Russia become more aggressive or less aggressive? Continue reading
By Robert Bryce • National Review
The energetic chatter of the moment is dominated by talk about the Green New Deal — a collection of proposals that would require running the entire American economy on renewable electricity within a decade or so.
The Green New Deal has been endorsed by scads of liberal politicians including New York governor Andrew Cuomo, former California state senator Kevin de León, media darling and newly sworn-in Democratic representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and anti-hydrocarbon activist Josh Fox. The goals of the Green New Deal are nothing short of radical. As the website for the left-wing think tank Data for Progress explains, the Green New Deal aims to “transform the economy and the environment in ways that achieve sustainability, equity, justice, freedom, and happiness.” Achieving happiness has never been easy. Even harder will be the Green New Deal’s aim of completely eliminating the use of coal, oil, and natural gas by 2050. Continue reading
By Liz Peek • Fox News
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez promises that going green – removing all fossil fuels from our energy mix – will “establish economic, social and racial justice in the United States.”
In fact, her proposal would cripple our economy and hurt our poorest citizens.
Ms. Ocasio-Cortez has admirable passion, but needs some schooling in energy economics. The cost of renewable energy is dropping fast, but is still more expensive in many applications than traditional fossil fuels like coal or oil. That’s one reason that adoption of wind and solar power has been slow, and that many countries, including the United States, underwrite renewables with subsidies and tax credits. The International Energy Agency predicts in its 2018 report that “the share of renewables in meeting global energy demand is expected to grow by one-fifth in the next five years to reach 12.4% in 2023.” Continue reading
by Peter Roff • Washington Examiner
Only in Washington would a congressional committee recommend a one-year extension of the tax credit for electric vehicles (in this case motorcycles) the day after General Motors announces it’s pulling the plug on the all-electric Chevy Volt.
Rep. Kevin Brady, R-Texas, the outgoing chairman of the tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee, generally opposes these kinds of special provisions. They’re bad policy because they distort activities in the marketplace. Nonetheless, it’s right there in the bill he has proposed.
What’s even stranger is that Congress signed off on phasing out this credit in its entirety in the 2018 tax bill. It’s an expensive write-off that mostly benefits the uber-wealthy, who buy electric cars as status symbols and tokens of environmental consciousness. Continue reading
by Seton Motley • RedState
I am opposed to any and all government money going towards picking private sector winners and losers.
In no small part because government doesn’t pick winners and losers – it picks losers at the expense of winners.
Government takes money from winners – people who have good ideas, implement them well, make money…and pay taxes.
And gives it to losers – people with bad ideas, implement them badly…and lose money. They need the government money – because they don’t generate any of their own.
A good idea – doesn’t need government money. No one needs to subsidize ice cream.
The King of All Government Money Recipients – is Elon Musk. Continue reading
by Julie Kelly • National Review
A new study by Environmental Progress (EP) warns that toxic waste from used solar panels now poses a global environmental threat. The Berkeley-based group found that solar panels create 300 times more toxic waste per unit of energy than nuclear power plants. Discarded solar panels, which contain dangerous elements such as lead, chromium, and cadmium, are piling up around the world, and there’s been little done to mitigate their potential danger to the environment.
“We talk a lot about the dangers of nuclear waste, but that waste is carefully monitored, regulated, and disposed of,” says Michael Shellenberger, founder of Environmental Progress, a nonprofit that advocates for the use of nuclear energy. “But we had no idea there would be so many panels — an enormous amount — that could cause this much ecological damage.”
Solar panels are considered a form of toxic, hazardous electronic or “e-waste,” and according to EP researchers Jemin Desai and Mark Nelson, scavengers in developing countries like India and China often “burn the e-waste in order to salvage the valuable copper wires for resale. Since this process requires burning off plastic, the resulting smoke contains toxic fumes that are carcinogenic and teratogenic (birth defect-causing) when inhaled.” Continue reading
By Stephen Moore • Investor’s Business Daily
If you listen to the media narrative on climate change and “clean energy,” you’d think that the rest of the world has moved smartly and seamlessly toward 21st century green energy, while the U.S. is the high-polluting laggard that just won’t get with the program to save the planet.
The Green Energy revolution around the world has turned into a Big Green meltdown with many nations sprinting away from “renewable” energy as if they were Usain Bolt.
Here are a few of the latest news flashes from Europe and Asia.
In Germany, the world leader in green energy, electricity prices have now reached a level triple those paid in the United States. See chart. Imagine the anger here if middle class Americans saw a tripling of their utility bills each month. Continue reading
by Michael Bastasch • The Daily Caller
California regulators may force a massive solar thermal power plant in the Mojave Desert to shut down after years of under-producing electricity — not to mention the plant was blinding pilots flying over the area and incinerating birds.
The Ivanpah solar plant could be shut down if state regulators don’t give it more time to meet electricity production promises it made as part of its power purchase agreements with utilities, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Ivanpah, which got a $1.6 billion loan guarantee from the Obama administration, only produced a fraction of the power state regulators expected it would. The plant only generated 45 percent of expected power in 2014 and only 68 percent in 2015, according to government data. Continue reading
San Francisco’s Solazyme also received millions in stimulus funds from DOE
by Ali Meyer • Washington Free Beacon
The CEO and Board of Directors of Solazyme, a company the military paid $149 per gallon for “alternative” fuel, have donated more than $300,000 to Democratic candidates and committees, according to a Washington Free Beacon analysis.
Recipients of significant donations included the Obama Victory Fund and the Democratic National Committee. Additionally, Solazyme donated between $100,000 and $250,000 to the Bill, Hillary, and Chelsea Clinton Foundation.
A Congressional Research Service (CRS) report found that the Department of Defense (DOD) paid Solazyme $149 per gallon for fuel made of algal oil, costing taxpayers a total of $223,500 in 2009. The group also received a $21 million stimulus grant from Department of Energy in 2009.
“Based in South San Francisco, Solazyme’s mission is to improve our lives and our planet by producing sustainable, high-performance oils and ingredients derived from microalgae,” the company states. Solazyme claims that their process serves as a better alternative to limited resources such as petroleum, vegetable oils, and animal fats. Continue reading
By William Tucker • RealClearEnergy
When the Green Mountain power company, Vermont’s largest utility, announced earlier this year it will be buying nuclear power from New Hampshire’s Seabrook reactor, many environmentalists felt betrayed.
“This is exactly why we closed Vermont Yankee, because we didn’t want any nuclear power,” they complained. But consumer demands left Green Mountain with no other choice. Nuclear is the ultimate reliable source of power – reactors operate more than 90 percent of the time – and Green Mountain needs back-up in case other sources stop working or if demand exceeds supply on a hot summer day. Vermont is struggling with its desire to be clean and green. The state closed down Vermont Yankee, which provided 600 megawatts of power, when public opinion against it became overwhelming. The state only consumers 1100 megawatts on the hottest day.
Along with the shuttering of the state’s largest generating station came dreams of windmills, solar collectors, and other “clean and green” options that would soon be taking its place. Like many other states and nations, Vermont has assumed that passing laws mandating renewable energy quotas will solve the problem. The state has set a goal for itself of 55 percent renewables by 2017, 75 percent by 2032 and 90 percent by 2050. The figure now is 17 percent. Continue reading
by John Stossel • Fox News
Thanks, Environmental Protection Agency! You’ve required sewage treatment plants, catalytic converters on cars and other things that made the world cleaner than the world in which I grew up. Good work.
Today, America’s waterways are so much cleaner that I swim in New York City’s once-filthy Hudson River — right beside skyscrapers in which millions of people, uh, flush. The air we breathe is also cleaner than it’s been for 60 years.
In a rational world, environmental bureaucrats would now say, “Mission accomplished. We set tough standards, so we don’t need to keep doing more. Stick a fork in it! We’re done.”
OK, I went too far. America does still need some bureaucrats to enforce existing environmental rules and watch for new pollution problems. But we don’t need what we’ve got: 16,000 environmental regulators constantly trying to control more of our lives. EPA should stand for: Enough Protection Already. Continue reading
by Peter Roff • US News & World Report
America is about as likely to become reliant on green energy to meet its baseload power requirements as a unicorn is to stroll down the middle of Washington’s Pennsylvania Avenue during rush hour followed by a pink elephant.
It’s just not happening – but that’s hasn’t deterred the modern day snake oil salesmen and their allies inside the Obama administration from continuing to make a push for wind and solar power as an eventual replacement for energy generated from traditional sources like coal, oil and natural gas. Renewable technology has improved, no doubt, but it’s a long way away from being ready to make a substantial contribution to the heating of our homes and the powering of our businesses unless the generous tax subsidies that create the illusion of cost competitiveness continue.
There’s nothing wrong per se with the pursuit of renewable energy; it’s just that what it actually costs is being masked by taxpayer subsidies, federal loan guarantees and renewable fuels mandates at the state level that force power companies to put wind and solar into the energy mix, sometimes at two to three times what traditional power costs. Ultimately, one way or another, the taxpayers and energy consumers are footing the bill even if they don’t know it. Continue reading