Global warm­ing greed

641 fed­eral pro­grams throw tax­payer money at wind­mills and so­lar pan­els

The Washington Times Daily - - Opinion -

It’s only now be­com­ing clear how many peo­ple have be­come rich thanks to the glob­al­warm­ing scare. Politi­cians from both par­ties have been so afraid of be­ing la­beled a “de­nier” that they’ll vote for any piece of leg­is­la­tion bear­ing the trendy green la­bel. The num­bers are adding up fast.

The Gov­ern­ment Ac­count­abil­ity Of­fice (GAO) counted a whopping 641 pro­grams in place at 130 fed­eral agen­cies in 2010 to prop up wind­mill tech­nol­ogy and un­der­write so­lar panel man­u­fac­tur­ers. The re­port re­leased Tues­day didn’t in­clude a re­li­able es­ti­mate of the to­tal cost to tax­pay­ers. The au­di­tors found the ar­ray of loans, tax cred­its, agency pur­chases of pur­port­edly green ve­hi­cles and the cost of reg­u­la­tions would take a great deal of ef­fort to tally.

For in­stance, the Com­merce Depart­ment has a Joint Wind En­ergy Pro­gram, Clean En­ergy Trade Mis­sions, a Global Cli­mate Change Mit­i­ga­tion In­cen­tive Fund, an En­vi­ron­men­tally Sus­tain­able De­vel­op­ment In­vest­ment Pri­or­ity and a Green Tech­nol­ogy Pi­lot Pro­gram — to name just a few. These pro­grams fre­quently over­lap, as the Com­merce Depart­ment also runs a Green Ship Ini­tia­tive. The sec­re­tary of de­fense has his own Re­new­able At-sea Power Pro­gram. The Navy has an En­ergy Pro­gram for Se­cu­rity and In­de­pen­dence, an Al­ter­na­tive Fu­els Pro­gram, a Third Party-fi­nanced Medium Scale Re­new­able Power Gen­er­a­tion pro­gram, and more. Of course, the U.S. Navy was founded on re­new­able en­ergy. It was wind power that pro­pelled Capt. John Paul Jones and the USS Ranger to vic­tory in bat­tle with the HMS Drake in 1778.

Wind power made sense in the 18th cen­tury, but it doesn’t make sense now. The pri­vate sec­tor isn’t in­ter­ested in blow­ing money on hope­lessly uneco­nomic wind­mill and so­lar projects, so at a Se­nate En­ergy and Nat­u­ral Re­sources Com­mit­tee hear­ing Tues­day, the case was made that the gov­ern­ment must step in. Chair­man Jeff Binga­man de­fended the $34 bil­lion Depart­ment of En­ergy (DOE) green loan guar­an­tees. “My im­pres­sion is that, over­all, the pro­gram is do­ing what it is de­signed to do — and that is to take on risks that pri­vate in­vestors are not will­ing to take on,” said the New Mex­ico Demo­crat. This is the source of tax­payer money that Solyn­dra tapped into be­fore go­ing bank­rupt.

Un­cle Sam is ter­ri­ble when it comes to man­ag­ing money. GAO slammed the ad­min­is­tra­tion’s hap­haz­ard process for green loan ap­provals, say­ing “it is dif­fi­cult for DOE to de­fend its de­ci­sions” against charges of fa­voritism.

Even more im­por­tant, it’s hard to jus­tify of­fer­ing any green en­ergy sub­si­dies at all. Sen. Al Franken gave his best ef­fort Tues­day, say­ing, “The bark bee­tle is eat­ing more and more of our forests be­cause of cli­mate change.” The Min­nesota Demo­crat added, “Tax­payer dol­lars are at risk if we don’t ad­dress this and try to get to clean en­ergy.”

Tens of bil­lions of dol­lars is a bit much to spend on a pest-con­trol ef­fort. In­stead of this po­lit­i­cal al­lo­ca­tion of cap­i­tal, the mar­ket should be free to judge whether an al­ter­na­tive en­ergy tech­nol­ogy is truly promis­ing, free from the dis­tort­ing in­flu­ence of con­gres­sional sub­sidy.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.