Renewable Energy Trouble: Energy Reality Meets Budget Reality
“It is clear that solar and wind are competitive in many situations right now.”
- Joe Romm, Climate Progress, April 21, 2011.
“If it wasn’t clear before it is crystal clear now that the people pushing a massive government spending program for clean energy are living on ‘Another Earth’.”
- Joe Romm, Climate Progress, July 28, 2011
In April, Joe Romm at Climate Progress reiterated his claim that politically correct renewable energies are well on their way to competitive viability–if not there already. Now, with business-as-usual federal subsidies for wind and solar at risk, there is fear and loathing at Climate Progress (Romm’s bully blog at the Center for American Progress).
Mad Joe Romm is extra mad at Obama and the WHOLE budget debate–as if record, unsustainable budget deficits were not reality. The idea of government running out of other people’s money is a foreign concept for him and others who see a sovereign nation as creating its own fiscal reality. After all, a political junta would not allow this to happen, right?
In America’s welfare state, it is now energy entitlements versus human-need entitlements. Energy is now in the same boat with all of the other chronically ill welfare programs.
‘Debt of a Salesman’: Romm vs. ‘Obama Democrats’
Here is what Romm is saying in his post: Debt of a Salesman: Obama, Democrats Poised to Embrace Deal that May Slash Energy, Enviro Spending for Many, Many Years:
In one of the biggest strategic blunders of his presidency, Obama has bought into the erroneous Republican frame that the biggest problem facing this country is our national debt. Worse, he has chosen to be a salesman for a centrist agenda of austerity, not the progressive one of investment….
I doubt most climate hawks and progressives outside of the DC Beltway fully appreciate what the emerging debt deal would likely mean for energy and environmental spending over the next decade. As E&E News (subs. req’d) bluntly explains this morning:
As the capital’s debt-limit drama enters its final act today, the last two solutions standing — one Democratic, one GOP — would slash long-term energy and environmental spending to a degree comparable with the fiscally austere deal struck to avert a springtime federal shutdown….
I think it is even worse than that for a couple of reasons.
First, Obama would seem to have accepted the dreadful GOP position that we can only raise the debt ceiling with an accompanying deal that lowers the future debt by the same amount. And, on top of that, he’s bought into the notion that revenue increases (aka tax hikes) are at most one third of the debt reduction. Even worse, the deal that seems inevitable now has no revenue increases whatsoever. If you were wondering whose bluff got called, that pretty much tells you everything you need to know.
Second, energy and environmental spending are not the most sacrosanct elements of nonmilitary discretionary spending. Talking Points Memo has this headline today
…. If it wasn’t clear before it is crystal clear now that the people pushing a massive government spending program for clean energy are living on “Another Earth.” The only plausible scenario now for seriously addressing US greenhouse gas emissions in a way that would enable a global deal and give us some chance of averting catastrophic multiple, simultaneous climate impacts is for a serious carbon price to be part of the post-2012-election budget deal (see “Bombshell: High and rising price for carbon pollution emerges as credible deficit reduction strategy“). And it ain’t that plausible unless Obama becomes as much a salesman for that approach as he has for debt reduction in general….
A big new energy tax increase? Who is living on “Another Earth”?
Romm ends his diatribe:
During the campaign, Obama was a pretty good salesman for progressive values and policies. In his first two years, Obama was a lousy salesman, but he was still for the most part pursuing those values and policies — at least until he walked away from the climate bill with nary a speech. Now, day in and day out he is a salesman for debt reduction. We traded in “Change we can believe in” for Ross Perot.
But Why Worry? Joe Recently Said ….
Here is what Dr. Romm asserted just three months ago:
“It is clear that solar and wind are competitive in many situations right now — see Wind now on even playing field with gas and Solar costs may already rival coal. And continued aggressive deployment along with continued R&D will keep driving the price down (see Energy Sec. Chu sees “wind and solar being cost-competitive without subsidy with new fossil fuel” by 2020).”
MasterResource examined Romm’s exaggeration in the context of other forecasts made since the 1980s that wind and/or solar were well on their way to viability. The insinuation? Special government favor would not be needed in an approaching future.
Wrong! This is why government-dependent renewable energies are running scared. As I wrote in a recent Washington Times op-ed:
Federal cutbacks have put wind and solar on the spot. Despite decades of promises, these energy sources remain uneconomic and misaligned with the need for reliable, flexible power. Left unsubsidized and without mandates, electricity generated from wind or solar would not find nearly enough buyers.
Meanwhile, deficits rage and voters want fiscal sanity. Can you imagine the opinion-poll results if respondents were asked to choose between spending fewer taxpayer dollars on renewable energy or basic government services? I doubt the American Wind Energy Association or the Solar Energy Industries Association would commission such a poll.
Could this be the beginning of the end of the energy welfare state?
The anti-market environmentalists have only themselves to blame for their current predicament. They picked the wrong horse, or, more accurately, they picked the donkey to run against the horse. The meager flow of energy from solar and wind could never match the dense energy content of oil, gas and coal.
The future belongs to the efficient. The faster government-dependent energy gets cut down to size, the better it will be for the U.S. Treasury, for consumers and for the real energy entrepreneurs and capitalists.
Let’s start now.