It looks like the “green revolution” has entered the long slide into “What was all that about?”
In January, the Spanish government removed lavish subsidies for its renewable-energy industry, and the industry all but imploded. You could say it was never a renewable-energy industry at all, but a government-subsidy industry: The government gave the makers of inefficient windmills and solar panels piles of cash that consumers never would.
“They destroyed the Spanish market overnight with the moratorium [on subsidies],” European Wind Energy Association CEO Christian Kjaer told Bloomberg News.
The Spanish example shows how the whole green-energy “revolution” was really an ideologically driven boondoggle from the start.
At the start of his administration, President Obama insisted that if we didn’t follow their lead, we’d surrender the hugely profitable renewable-energy sector to those sagacious Spaniards.
Yet researchers at King Juan Carlos University found in 2009 that Spain had destroyed 2.2 jobs in other industries for every green job it created, and that the Spanish government has spent more than half a million euros for each green job created since 2000.
When asked about the study, then-White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs responded that he hadn’t read it, but, “It seems weird that we’re importing wind-turbine parts from Spain in order to build – to meet renewable-energy demand here if that were even remotely the case.”
Of course, this was before the White House discovered that its “investments” in companies like Solyndra were little better than shoveling taxpayer dollars into an industrial mulcher. So it shouldn’t surprise anyone that Gibbs would find it “weird” that our domestic subsidy-seeking sucker fish might want to buy Spain’s artificially cheap products in a scheme to feed off domestic subsidies.
The evidence that this administration put cronyism and ideology ahead of reality is all around us. “Since 2009,” reports The Wall Street Journal, “the Obama administration has awarded more than $1 billion to American companies to make advanced batteries for electric vehicles. Halfway to a six-year goal of producing one million electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles, auto makers are barely at 50,000 cars.” Just 950,000 cars to go.
Obama believed he could start new industries simply by sluicing taxpayer dollars into the right maws. Any suggestion that the transition to inefficient energy sources might come at a cost to taxpayers or economic growth was derided as a “false choice.”
It seems like Obama at least understands the tough choices he faces. In 2009, his Earth Day message was stridently dedicated to climate change. In 2012, it didn’t even mention the word “climate.”
Now the administration wants everyone to believe it supports “fracking” and natural-gas development. To the chagrin of the green lobby, Obama won’t be attending this year’s Earth Summit. Heck, the current picture on the White House’s energy and environment page even shows Obama walking past a stack of oil pipes. Subtle.
Yes, Obama threw a bone to the greens on the Keystone pipeline, but he more quietly opened up the Alaskan Arctic to new oil development, granting Shell permits to drill offshore.
“We never would have expected a Democratic president – let alone one seeking to be ‘transformative’ – to open up the Arctic Ocean for drilling,” Michael Brune, Sierra Club executive director, told The New York Times.
Now, Obama’s course correction is entirely political. For instance, if he hadn’t approved the Arctic drilling, Shell almost surely would’ve sued the administration for the billions it’s spent developing its Arctic leases. That’s not the kind of lawsuit Obama would want in an election year.
But saying Obama has caved to political reality doesn’t change that political reality is largely a function of economic reality. In Europe and America alike, voters recognize that the benefits of the green revolution aren’t worth the costs, especially when the revolutionaries don’t have a clue about what they’re doing.
The only question for voters is whether Obama has really learned his lesson, or plans on reverting to type if re-elected.
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