The hidden agenda behind the new president’s busy week
No one can accuse President Biden of easing into office. His first days have been a blizzard of executive orders, presidential memorandums, and official proclamations. He says he wants to overturn the worst policies of the previous administration, and to restore a sense of national unity and institutional integrity. What gets lost in the details of all these initiatives is Biden’s partisan goal.
It’s not just that the new president wants to resume the trajectory America was on when Barack Obama left office in 2017. He also wants to claw back the gains red states made over blue states during the last four years. He wants to shift federal resources to Democratic constituencies, and to save the blue states from the true cost of their misguided policies. And if red America has to pay a price in lost jobs and tax revenue, well, that’s too bad.
Leave aside, for the purposes of this discussion, the relative merits of Biden’s executive actions. (I disagree with almost all of them.) Focus instead on their distributional effects, not on individuals but on sectors of the economy, on regions of the country, and on the donor bases of the two parties. The image that comes to mind is of swarms of dollars changing course midflight: a mass migration of subsidies, spending, and incentives from the GOP coalition to the Democratic one.
Start with energy. Biden killed the Keystone XL pipeline at a cost of 1,000 jobs and diplomatic goodwill with Canada. He banned fracking on federal lands and paused oil and gas lease sales in the Arctic National Wildlife Reserve. According to a White House fact sheet, he told federal agencies to “accelerate clean energy and transmission projects.” He is sure to bestow federal largesse on the sons of Solyndra.
The alternative energy sector overwhelmingly favors Democrats. Its political investments have paid off. The old-style extractive industries, mainly based in GOP strongholds, will suffer. In some cases they are targeted for extinction. The knock-on effects are serious. “Wyoming state superintendent Jillian Balow notes that her state depends on some $150 million a year in oil and gas federal royalties to fund K-12 schools,” says the Wall Street Journal editorial board.
Other Biden measures resumed the flow of government aid to the special interests behind his campaign. The second Catholic president has jumpstartedfederal funding of Planned Parenthood almost two years after President Trump cut off the nation’s largest abortion provider. Biden also reversed President Trump’s ban on money for “sanctuary cities” that choose not to enforce federal immigration law. That decision will help boost the budgets of progressive municipalities eager to pass off the costs of illegal immigration. Biden’s codification of the Supreme Court’s Bostock decision, which made gender identity protected under civil rights law, and his lifting of the ban on trans soldiers is sure to please a class of donors essential to Democratic Party finances.
Biden’s proposed American Rescue Plan best captures the new administration’s intermingling of public policy and greasy-pole gamesmanship. Take, for example, the $130 billion that Biden wants to spend on K-12 schools. That number is on top of the $67 billion Congress already has committed to reopening elementary and secondary schools.
The additional cash is a handout to the teachers’ unions, who have opposed a return to in-person instruction at every opportunity, and who are among Biden’s closest allies. Biden has adopted the unions’ rhetoric, saying that schools cannot open until they have been renovated. He’s wrong, of course—measures such as masks, hygiene, and social distancing are enough to stop the spread, especially among the elementary schoolers who need in-person classes the most and whose transmission rates are low. But science doesn’t matter. The unions must get paid.
One year after COVID-19 appeared in America, it is more than evident that arbitrary, statewide lockdowns are a disaster for small businesses, which happen to be a key part of the Republican coalition. The states that have done the most to reopen have best weathered the economic storm. And these same states tend to be low-tax, low-minimum-wage, and have a business-friendly regulatory environment, as well as a warmer climate. The Wall Street Journal reports that the South is leading America’s recovery. But, in the heavily Democratic northeast, “The recovery of jobs has lagged behind.”
What does Biden want? His solution is to make Florida and Texas more like New York and California. My colleague at the American Enterprise Institute, Paul H. Kupiec, calculates that the nationwide $15 minimum wage contained in the American Rescue Plan would “shift business formation, growth, and employment from red states to blue, as the higher minimum wage erodes red states’ labor cost advantage in many job categories.” What’s best for Cuomo, however, is not what’s best for the country.
A steep minimum wage hike in the middle of an economic crisis that disproportionately affects small business is the exact opposite of what you want to do to spur full employment. But it does make sense if you are using the crisis to gain leverage for unions and government over free labor and the private sector.
Blue America began to claw back red America’s earnings last week. And the next four years (at least) will see the Biden coalition press its advantage.
The following is adapted from John H. Cochrane’s remarks at the European Central Bank’s Conference on Monetary Policy: Bridging Science and Practice. His full presentation about the challenges facing central banks is here.
Central banks are rushing headlong into climate policy. This is a mistake. It will destroy central banks’ independence, their ability to fulfill their main missions to control inflation and stem financial crises, and people’s faith in their impartiality and technical competence. And it won’t help the climate.
In making this argument, I do not claim that climate change is fake or unimportant. None of the following comments reflect any argument with scientific fact. (I favor a uniform carbon tax in return for essentially no regulation, but this essay is not about carbon policy.)
The question is whether the European Central Bank (ECB), other central banks, or international institutions such as the International Monetary Fund, the Bank for International Settlements, and the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development should appoint themselves to take on climate policy—or other important social, environmental, or political causes—without a clear mandate to do so from politically accountable leaders.
The Western world faces a crisis of trust in our institutions, a crisis fed by a not-inaccurate perception that the elites who run such institutions don’t know what they are doing, are politicized, and are going beyond the authority granted by accountable representatives.
Trust and independence must be earned by evident competence and institutional restraint. Yet central banks, not obviously competent to target inflation with interest rates; floundering to stop financial crisis by means other than wanton bailouts; and still not addressing obvious risks lying ahead; now want to be trusted to determine and implement their own climate change policy? (And next, likely, taking on inequality and social justice?)
We don’t want the agency that delivers drinking water to make a list of socially and environmentally favored businesses and start turning off the water to disfavored companies. Nor should central banks. They should provide liquidity, period.
But a popular movement wants all institutions of society to jump into the social and political goals of the moment, regardless of boring legalities. Those constraints, of course, are essential for a functioning democratic society, for functioning independent technocratic institutions, and incidentally for making durable progress on those same important social and political goals.
It’s Not About Risk
The European Central Bank and other institutions are not just embarking on climate policy in general. They are embarking on the enforcement of one particular set of climate policies—policies to force banks and private companies to defund fossil fuel industries, even while alternatives are not available at scale, and to provide subsidized funding to an ill-defined set of “green” projects.
Let me quote from ECB executive board member Isabel Schnabel’s recent speech. I don’t mean to pick on her, but she expresses the climate agenda very well, and her speech bears the ECB imprimatur. She recommends that
[f]irst, as prudential supervisor, we have an obligation to protect the safety and soundness of the banking sector. This includes making sure that banks properly assess the risks from carbon-intensive exposures. . . .
Let me point out the unclothed emperor: climate change does not pose any financial risk at the one-, five-, or even ten-year horizon at which one can conceivably assess the risk to bank assets. Repeating the contrary in speeches does not make it so.
Risk means variance, unforeseen events. We know exactly where the climate is going in the next five to ten years. Hurricanes and floods, though influenced by climate change, are well modeled for the next five to ten years. Advanced economies and financial systems are remarkably impervious to weather. Relative market demand for fossil vs. alternative energy is as easy or hard to forecast as anything else in the economy. Exxon bonds are factually safer, financially, than Tesla bonds, and easier to value. The main risk to fossil fuel companies is that regulators will destroy them, as the ECB proposes to do, a risk regulators themselves control. And political risk is a standard part of bond valuation.
That banks are risky because of exposure to carbon-emitting companies; that carbon-emitting company debt is financially risky because of unexpected changes in climate, in ways that conventional risk measures do not capture; that banks need to be regulated away from that exposure because of risk to the financial system—all this is nonsense. (And even if it were not nonsense, regulating bank liabilities away from short term debt and towards more equity would be a more effective solution to the financialproblem.)
Next, we contemplate a pervasive regime essentially of shame, boycott, divest, and sanction
[to] link the eligibility of securities . . . as collateral in our refinancing operations to the disclosure regime of the issuing firms.
We know where “disclosure” leads. Now all companies that issue debt will be pressured to cut off disparaged investments and make whatever “green” investments the ECB is blessing.
Last, the ECB is urged to print money directly to fund green projects:
We should also consider reassessing the benchmark allocation of our private asset purchase programs. In the presence of market failures . . . the market by itself is not achieving efficient outcomes.
Now you may say, “Climate is a crisis. Central banks must pitch in and help the cause. They should just tell banks to stop lending to the evil fossil fuel companies, and print money and hand it out to worthy green projects.”
But central banks are not allowed to do this, and for very good reasons. A central bank in a democracy is not an all-purpose do-good agency, with authority to subsidize what it decides to be worthy, defund what it dislikes, and force banks and companies to do the same. A central bank, whose leaders do not regularly face voters, lives by an iron contract: freedom and independence so long as it stays within its limited and mandated powers.
The ECB in particular lives by a particularly delineated and limited mandate. For very good reasons, the ECB was not set up to decide which industries or regions need subsidizing and which should be scaled back, to direct bank investment across Europe, to set the price of bonds, or to print money to subsidize direct lending. These are intensely political acts. In a democracy, only elected representatives can take or commission such intensely political activities. If I take out the words “green,” the EU member states, and EU voters, would properly react with shock and outrage at this proposal. If the ECB bought different countries’ bonds at different prices and in different quantities to reward those making greater progress on “green” policy implementation, there would likely be an outcry.
That’s why this movement goes through the convolutions of pretending that defunding fossil fuels and subsidizing green projects—however desirable—has something to do with systemic risk, which it patently does not.
That’s why one must pretend to diagnose “market failures” to justify buying bonds at too high prices. By what objective measure are green bonds “mispriced” and markets “failing”? Why only green bonds? The ECB does not scan all asset markets for “mispriced” securities to buy and sell after determining the “right” prices.
Here are two interpretations of the ECB’s proposal:
One: we looked evenhandedly at all the risks to the financial system, and the most important financialrisk we came up with just happens to be climate.
Two: we want to get involved with climate policy. How can we shoehorn that desire into our limited mandate to pay attention to financial stability?
Who Gets the Green Light?
How should we judge the proposal? I think it’s pretty obvious that the latter interpretation is true—or at least that the vast majority of people reading the proposal will interpret it as such. Feeding this perception is the central omission of this speech: any concrete description of just how carbon sins will be measured.
At face value, “carbon emitting” does not mean just fossil fuel companies but cement manufacturers, aluminum producers, construction, agriculture, transport, and everything else. Will the carbon risk and defunding project really extend that far, in any sort of honest quantitative way? Or is “carbon emitting” just code for hounding the politically unpopular fossil fuel companies?
In the disclosure and bond buying project, who will decide what is a green project? Already, cost-benefit analysis—euros spent per ton of carbon, per degrees of temperature reduced, per euros of GDP increased—is lacking. By what process will the ECB avoid past follies such as switchgrass biofuel, corn ethanol, and high-speed trains to nowhere? How will it allow politically unpopular projects such as nuclear power, carbon capture, natural gas via fracking, residential zoning reform, and geoengineering ventures—which all, undeniably, scientifically, lower carbon and global temperatures—as well as adaptation projects that undeniably, scientifically, lower the impact on GDP? Well, clearly it won’t. The ECB is embarking on one specific kind of green policy, popular at the cocktail parties at Davos, but having little to do with cost-benefit analysis or science of climate policy.
In sum, where is the analysis for this program? I challenge the ECB to calculate how many degrees this bond buying plan would lower global temperatures, and how much it would raise GDP by the year 2100, in any transparent, verifiable, and credible way. Never mind the costs for now: where are the benefits?
And how would the ECB resist political pressure to subsidize all sorts of boondoggles? If the central bank does not have and disclose neutral technical competence at making this sort of calculation, the project will be perceived as simply made-up numbers to advance a political cause. All of the central bank’s activities will then be tainted by association.
This will end badly. Not because these policies are wrong, but because they are intensely political, and they make a mockery of the central bank’s limited mandates. If this continues, the next ECB presidential appointment will be all about climate policy: who gets the subsidized green lending, who is defunded, what the next set of causes is to be, and not interest rates and financial stability. Board appointments will become champions for each country’s desired subsidies. Countries and industries that lose out will object. This is exactly the sort of institutional aggrandizement that prompted Brexit.
If the ECB crosses this second Rubicon—buying sovereign and corporate debt was the first—be ready for more. The IMF is already pushing redistribution. The US Federal Reserve, though it has so far stayed away from climate policy, is rushing into “inclusive” employment and racial justice. There are many problems in the world. Once you start trying to shape climate policy, and so obviously break all the rules to do it, how can you resist the clamor to defund, disclose, and subsidize the rest? How will you resist demands to take up regional development, prop up dying industries, subsidize politicians’ pet projects, and all the other sins that the ECB is explicitly enjoined from committing?
A central bank that so blatantly breaks its mandates must lose its independence, its authority, and people’s trust in its objectivity and technical competence to fight inflation and deflation, regulate banks, and stop financial crises.
A Narrow Role, and Essential
Working for a central bank is a bit boring. One may feel a longing to do something that feels more important, that helps the world in its big causes. One may feel longing for the approval of the Davos smart set. Why does Greta Thunberg get all the attention? But a central bank is not the Gates Foundation, which can spend its money any way it likes. This is taxpayers’ money, and regulations use force to transfer wealth between very unwilling people. A central bank is a government agency, and central bankers are public servants, just like the people who run the DMV.
Central banks must be competent, trusted, narrow, independent, and boring. A good strategy review will refocus central banks on their core narrow mission and let the other institutions of society address big political causes. Boring as that may be.
While we must steward the planet God has gifted to us, there is no empirical basis for apocalyptic predictions of impending doom.
The “Climate Clock” looms ten stories above Manhattan’s Union Square so all passersby can track the precise moment the world passes its supposed tipping-point toward irreversible, apocalyptic environmental demise. This clock has that moment of doom pegged at a little more than seven years from today. One of the men who created the clock, artist Gan Golan, said his motivation for the project was the birth of his daughter two years ago:
What we did in the next few years would determine the world my daughter would live in, that all of us would live in, and I felt that timeline needed to be understood by everyone, everywhere.
As a result, Golan and a friend constructed a massive digital alarm clock on the side of a building in one of the busiest places in the world to track just how little time we have. Last year, they even made a smaller climate clock for Swedish teenage environmental activist Greta Thunberg; one she could hold in her hand during her famed appearance at the United Nations Climate Action Summit.
“This is arguably the most important number in the world,” the team explained to The New York Times, adding, “You can’t argue with science, you just have to reckon with it.” And that is where the problem lies with the environmental doom and gloom — you can absolutely argue with science. That is precisely what the scientific method is: the careful, relentless discipline of skepticism and discovery. It’s testing and questioning what others claim is beyond debate.
Nine leading climate scientists from Germany, France, Finland, and Ireland have, indeed, questioned whether anyone can reliably determine how much time remains between now and an irreversible trajectory toward environmental ruin.
Drawing from 36 different meta-analyses on the question, involving more than 4,600 individual studies spanning the last 45 years, their findings were recently published in the journal Nature Ecology and Evolution. They conclude that the empirical data doesn’t allow scientists to establish ecological thresholds or tipping points. As natural bio-systems are dynamic, ever-evolving, and adapting over the long-term, determining longevity timeframes is currently impossible.
These scholars write that frankly, “we lack systematic quantitative evidence as to whether empirical data allow definitions of such thresholds” and “our results thus question the pervasive presence of threshold concepts” in environmental politics and policy. Their findings also reinforced the contention that “global change biology needs to abandon the general expectation that system properties allow defining thresholds as a way to manage nature under global change.”
Professor José M. Montoya, one of the nine authors and an ecologist at the Theoretical and Experimental Ecology Station in France, told the French National Center for Scientific Research “many ecologists have long had this intuition” that setting reliable, empirically situated tipping-points “was difficult to verify until now for lack of sufficient computing power to carry out a wide-ranging analysis.” But that has now changed.
So no, there is no reliable science behind the new seven-years-to-the-point-of-no-return countdown of the Climate Clock in Union Square, nor for Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s infamous “The world is going to end in 12 years if we don’t act now” scare, or Thunberg’s just-10-years-til-inevitable-doom drum pounding. Such claims simply do not — and cannot — be firmly grounded in any scientific knowledge we currently possess.
Evidence for this conclusion, however, goes beyond the aforementioned conclusive new study. 2020 saw the publication of two extremely important books from leading, mainstream environmental-climate scholars on what science says about the earth’s future.
The first is Michael Shellenberger, a Time magazine “Hero of the environment” who explains in his book “Apocalypse Never: Why Environmental Alarmism Hurts Us All” that nearly every piece of scare data presented by the likes of AOC, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Thunberg is not only incorrect but tells a story that is the opposite of the scientific truth. Not only is the world not going to end due to climate change, but in many important ways, the environment is getting markedly better.
As Shellenberger explains, environmental improvements are coming from technology and industry, not the do-goodism of Greenpeace and other activists. Certainly no conservative, Shellenberger wrote “Apocalypse Never” precisely because he was “getting fed up with the exaggeration, alarmism, and extremism that are the enemy of a positive, humanistic, and rational environmentalism.” Shellenberger is both pro-people and pro-technology, explaining counter-intuitively that the scientific “evidence is overwhelming that our high-energy civilization is better for people and nature than the low-energy civilization that climate alarmists would return us to.”
Another major environmentalist voice challenging hysteria is Bjorn Lomborg of the Copenhagen Consensus Center think tank, listed by the UK’s liberal Guardian newspaper as one of the 50 people who could save the planet. In his book “False Alarm,” he explains how “climate change panic” is not only unfounded, it’s also wasting trillions of dollars globally, hurting the poor, and failing to fix the very problems it warns us about. Lomborg explains:
‘The rhetoric on climate change has become more extreme and less moored to the actual science’ at the very time that ‘climate scientists have painstakingly increased knowledge about climate change, and we have more — and more reliable — data than ever before.’
So, what science genuinely telling us? “Science shows us that fears of a climate apocalypse are unfounded.” Lomborg explains, admitting that while “global warming is real … it is not the end of the world.” “It is a manageable problem” he adds. He is dismayed that we live in a world “where almost half the population believes climate change will extinguish humanity” and do so under the mistaken assumption that science concludes this. It doesn’t, and he is vexed this mantra parades under the banner of enlightenment.
It’s imperative we properly steward this beautiful planet God has gifted to us. It was the second command He gave to humanity, after the charge to populate it with generation after generation of new people. But hysteria is not what is called for in this work. Shellenberger, Lomborg, and these nine other international ecologists tell us that not only is there no empirical basis for the apocalyptic prognostications so needlessly disturbing the dreams of the world’s young people.
Up until the Trump presidency, politicians regularly talked about the need to make America energy independent. That talk has stopped, largely because the goal has been reached. The U.S. is now a net energy exporter, thanks almost entirely to the development of new technologies that allow us to find fossil fuels where they could not be found before.
The oil and natural gas boom brought about by fracking has not only ended the nation’s reliance on crude oil imports, it also put an end to the domestic coal industry. As a result, U.S. carbon emissions are down significantly, lower even than the targets fixed in the international Paris Climate Accord from which President Donald J. Trump withdrew the nation shortly after entering office.
Rather than cheering these developments, former Vice President Joe Biden wants to bring them to an end. He wants the nation to be depended on synthetic and renewable fuel substitutes that are not yet developed and wind and solar power that is expensive to build, even more expensive to maintain in good working order, and which has proven harmful to birds and other wildlife – all to appease Luddite environmentalists who fill his campaign coffers with money and his campaign offices with activists.
To what should be his shame, Biden can’t be clear with the American public about what he has in mind for U.S. energy production save for statements about his plan to end our reliance on fossil fuels to heat and cool our homes and businesses and power our factories within several decades.
The technology to do all this is unproven, at least at the commercial-scale required to produce the base power load needed. Yet he dismisses technologies like fracking that are proven as environmentally harmful and unnecessary.
Contrary to what he’s said while debating Mr. Trump, Mr. Biden has said repeatedly he would end fracking in the United States. He’s been caught on tape more than once making this promise. In a July 2019 interview with CNN’s Dana Bash, Mr. Biden said he would eliminate fracking. “Would there be any place for fossil fuels including coal and fracking in a Biden administration?” she asked. Mr. Biden responded, “No, we would work it out. We would make sure it’s eliminated.”
In his October 22 debate with Mr. Trump, Mr. Biden again promised he would shut down the entire American oil industry. Here’s this, from the transcript, so you can read it yourself:
President Donald Trump: Would you close down the oil industry?
Former Vice President Joe Biden: By the way, I have a transition from the old industry, yes.
President Donald Trump: Oh, that’s a big statement.
Former Vice President Joe Biden: I will transition. It is a big statement.
President Donald Trump: That’s a big statement.
Former Vice President Joe Biden: Because I would stop.
Moderator Kristen Welker (NB): Why would you do that?
Former Vice President Joe Biden: Because the oil industry pollutes, significantly.
Whether or not he used the word “ban” is irrelevant. If he can’t ban it, he’ll tax and regulate and sue it out of existence by raising the costs involved with it to a level when it no longer makes economic sense to do it.
If Mr. Biden’s plan prevails, it won’t just devastate the economies of Pennsylvania, Ohio, Texas, Colorado, and New Mexico, and it won’t just send millions of Americans whose jobs depend on the fracking industry onto the unemployment lines, it will produce higher prices at the pump for every American while making the nation once again reliant on foreign oil imports coming from politically unstable parts of the world. If that weren’t enough, the biggest beneficiary of the Biden plan will be Russia’s Vladimir Putin, who just can’t wait to get the rest of the world, particularly eastern Europe, dependent once again on his country’s crude and natural gas.
No amount of spin or clean up from Mr. Biden or his team can explain away what he’s promised to do. The former Vice President said “Yes” when the president asked if he would close down the oil industry. Mr. Biden’s stance towards almost everything that goes into U.S. energy independence shows him to be a job killer, a friend to the oil sheiks and eastern European oligarchs and others who’d like nothing better to have their knees on the necks of U.S. industry by controlling the nation’s supply of energy.
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