A Free-Market Energy Blog

Josiah Neeley Rejects a Carbon-Dioxide Tax and Wind Power

By Robert Bradley Jr. -- April 17, 2018

“The debate over a carbon tax is now not just one of theoretical speculation; proponents need to explain why the U.S. outcome would be different from what actually happened in Australia.”

“Wind power simply cannot be scaled up to replace traditional energy sources such as fossil fuels and nuclear power….Wind subsidies might make a few people rich, but they won’t make wind a free market success story.”

– Josiah Neeley (below)

Time is relentless when it comes to the advantages from mineral-energy density and disdavantages from wind and solar intermittency. Such energy reality creates a sharp divide between consumer-chosen free-market energy and government-directed political energy. Or more bluntly, voluntary choice and coerced choice.

And when it comes to the carbon tax, real-world politics bats last, evicerating any theoretical scheme to implement a (God-like) revenue-neutral, equity-adjusted, border-adjusted carbon-dioxide (CO2) tax.

Enter Josiah Neeley, who left the free-market Texas Public Policy Foundation for the Left-funded, energy-interventionist R-Street Institute several years ago.

Neeley’s views from 2013 apply equally well today. A critic of climate alarmism, Neeley also criticized a CO2 tax (see below).

And he rejected wind power is a viable, large-scale resource as follows:

Whatever recent inroads wind has made are due rather less to its merits as an energy source than to staggering government subsidies…. Wind power simply cannot be scaled up to replace traditional energy sources such as fossil fuels and nuclear power….Wind subsidies might make a few people rich, but they won’t make wind a free market success story.”/blockquote>

Carbon Tax Follies

Here is what free-market Neeley wrote in “Will Australia’s Elections Doom the Carbon Tax?”:

Conservatives won a landslide victory this weekend in Australia. A coalition of the Liberal and National parties (which in Australian terms are the right of center political parties) led by Tony Abbott won 88 seats in Australia’s 150 seat parliament, against 57 seats by left-wing Labor Party.

One key factor behind this electoral victory was the unpopularity of Australia’s new carbon tax scheme, which had been instituted under the previous Labor government. Incoming Prime Minister Tony Abbott has pledged to repeal the carbon tax, and even Labor leader Kevin Rudd campaigned on a promise to convert it into a cap-and-trade system.

The election is important to America because of what is says about the political viability of carbon taxes. In fact, as Robert Murphy of the Institute for Energy Research has noted, Australia’s carbon tax experience casts doubt on many of the claims made in favor of a carbon tax. Both electricity prices and unemployment spiked in Australia after its carbon tax was introduced, without any comparable environmental benefit:

[T]he promises of those calling for a “pro-growth” U.S. carbon tax have been proven to be utterly false in Australia: Its carbon tax came with income tax increases and fewer jobs as well as more command-and-control energy regulations.

The debate over a carbon tax is now not just one of theoretical speculation; proponents need to explain why the U.S. outcome would be different from what actually happened in Australia.


So what was true some years ago remains true today:

  1. A carbon tax is a political loser. In Australia, in the US, even, most recently. in Washington State.
  2. A CO2 tax is bad for energy prices and employment–the very opposite of a “pro-growth” economic policy
  3. Wind power is a political energy, not a market-viable resource.

Josiah Neeley was–and is–right. And maybe he can dare to tell us why this is not the case–rather than just assuming what must be debated and presenting a lawyers’ brief for the energy-statist side.

One wishes that R-Street could shift its funding sources away from climate alarmists/forced-energy transformationists to be able to free its staff to speak truth to Malthusian Statism. Only then would this Institute live up to its advertised mission:

R Street’s Energy program seeks to advance a cleaner environment and a thriving economy through principles of market competition, limited government and well-founded science.

Intellectual veracity–and truth in advertising–anyone?


  1. Ed Reid  

    Some one year old thoughts regarding a carbon tax.


    A carbon tax is a bad idea that will not die because of the opportunity it presents to grow government.


  2. John Garrett  

    “Whose bread I eat, his song I sing.”

    Hell, even Buffett admitted long ago that the only reason Mid-America (a Berkshire Hathaway subsidiary) builds wind generators is because of Gubmint subsidies.


  3. Michael Ioffe  

    The earth is a lucky planet with two types of the greenhouse gasses:
    1. Which are lighter than nitrogen and oxygen – methane, water vapor.
    2. Which are heavier than nitrogen and oxygen – carbon dioxide, nitrogenous oxide, ozone and many others even heavier greenhouse gasses. Please, compare their molecular weight: methane – CH4=16, water vapor – H2O=18, nitrogen – N2=28, oxygen – O2=32, carbon dioxide – CO2=44, nitrogenous oxide – N2O=44, ozone – O3=48…
    The molecular weights of gasses are playing the crucial role in nature:
    1. A smoke from a chimney of power plant in not windy condition is going up ~ 500 meters after that is a horizontal, despite a temperature in an oven ~1,000 degrees C. It is cooling with height and, as it full mostly with molecules of heavy gasses, forces of a buoyancy can’t lift it.
    2. At the same time, the billions of molecules of water vapor are making any parcel of air lighter, than other parcels with lesser numbers of molecules of water vapor, and forces of the buoyancy are lifting it up. When with a height air in a parcel is cooling, part of a water vapor condensed, released energy, which heats air in this parcel and recreates the convection forces. Step by step all molecules of all gases in this parcel together with their kinetic, latent and trapped infrared radiation energy are coming to upper troposphere, where energy is going to space easy, than from ocean (land) level.
    The properties of water:
    – Transport huge amount of energy from an ocean (land) level to the upper troposphere and helps cool the atmosphere, despite water vapor is a greenhouse gas. (Methane is doing the same.)
    – These properties cover 1/3 of the earth by clouds, which reflect to space direct sun radiation.
    – Properties of water cover all Antarctica, most of Arctic, most of the mounts on the earth, and huge territories in the winter time by ice and snow. These ice and snow also reflect to space huge energy of direct sun radiation.


  4. Michael Ioffe  

    The real reasons for climate change during industrial revolution are:

    1. A population of the earth in 1800 was 1 billion, today more than 7.3 billion. To feed the growing population mankind activities created around the world 4,000,000,000 acres of fields of potato, corn, wheat, etc. (area ~ equal of two areas of the USA). These fields were created instead of the former forests and the virgin steppes. It reduces evaporation of water from a soil over all continents with arable land, reduces the humidity in the air and the probabilities of rains – a real cooling mechanism in the nature.
    2. As we use mostly a fossil fuel for our energy needs, a black carbon and a dust from it cover a fresh snow, which reduces a reflection back to the space of the direct sun radiation.

    You can read more in book: -Case against the Science of Climate Change by Michael Ioffe.


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    […] Neeley of R-Street, once a critic of climate alarmism and wind power (see Part I yesterday), took the dough and is now desperately trying to make a case to libertarians and […]


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