May 24 2012
Old (Energy) Habits Die Hard
For the Obama White House, old habits die hard.
Today Mr. Obama is in Iowa, visiting a wind-energy facility to try to increase pressure on Congress to extend renewable-energy tax breaks. Against the backdrop of TPI Composites wind turbine manufacturer in Newton, President Obama is expected to call for the extension of the production tax credit for wind, as well as an expansion to provide tax credits for the manufacturing of green-energy-related equipment.
Green energy can be a good thing if it’s the market – rather than government – that determines a need for it. But too often lawmakers in Washington want taxpayers to pay for expensive, unproven green projects.
In fact, it’s hard to believe that in the wake of the Solyndra embarrassment Mr. Obama is even remotely willing to push for wind tax credits. In case readers forget, President Obama made the solar energy company Solyndra the center-point of his green-jobs initiative. It was expected to be the symbol of all things great and green, was the recipient of a government loan to support clean jobs, and then promptly went bankrupt.
Too often it’s not clear if these “clean energy” projects are going to do anything for the environment. It’s often technologically premature and, even more importantly, burdensome to job creators.
The fact is Washington shouldn’t be in the (energy) business of picking winners and losers. As I’ve written before, a progressive government like the Obama administration mandates that lawmakers take from some in order to give to others. Even before the Solyndra disaster, the president was clear who will be the energy winners (“green energy”) and who will be the losers (oil companies). But this is – and has been – a recipe for disaster.
The best thing government can do to drive down energy costs is to stop advancing useless policies that favor one energy source or industry over another. Instead, they should let market forces determine what the best energy solution is for the country.
They’ll avoid a lot of embarrassment and we’ll all have cheaper energy.