Our nation’s $15 trillion federal debt will soon be insurmountable. Every day it increases another $3.5 billion. We now pay over $400 billion a year just in interest on this debt – money desperately needed for schools, health care, infrastructure and national defense.
This debt is caused by the shortfall between federal revenues and the money Congress spends. This year’s revenues will be over $2.2 trillion, but Congress will spend over $3.6 trillion – a $1.3 trillion deficit that will push the debt over $16 trillion.
So any Congressional spending above our $2.2 trillion revenues just adds to this monumental debt, and increases the risk it can never be repaid. And every expenditure must be evaluated not only in present borrowed dollars but also in all the future interest payments it will incur.
Despite this drastic situation, Colorado’s Senators Bennet and Udall want to indebt us another $60 billion with one of the worst pork barrel programs in history – corporate welfare for companies like British Petroleum, Goldman Sachs, Siemens and General Electric.
Senators Bennet and Udall have consistently backed 2012 legislation involving extension of three little-known items: the Production Tax Credit, the Investment Tax Credit, and Section 1603 grants. These notorious mechanisms provide billions in tax cuts, upfront grants and other subsidies to the least efficient, most hated, and most environmentally destructive type of power generation: industrial wind projects.
Though touted as “green” and “renewable,” wind projects don’t lower greenhouse gases or fossil fuel use. But they’re a fantastic way for oil companies and investment banks to enrich themselves at taxpayer expense.
“The only thing green about wind power,” says Texas oilman and wind developer T. Boone Pickens, “is the money it puts in my pocket.” British Petroleum, which gave us history’s worst environmental disaster – the Gulf Oil Spill – owns seven out of every ten wind projects in America, and uses wind tax credits to avoid environmental upgrades on their refineries.
Studies worldwide have shown industrial wind projects generate only 5-20 percent of their supposed capacity. And they don’t cut greenhouse gases or reduce fossil fuel use because wind is so erratic that fossil-fuel plants have to be run constantly to back them up.
In one of the most detailed analyses ever done on wind generation, Colorado’s Bentek Energy studied 300,000 emission points across Colorado and the central U.S., and found that wind projects led to no emissions or fossil fuel reductions, and in some cases actually increased them. The largest British environmental group, the John Muir Trust, has revealed that the over 1,000 wind projects in the U.K., costing trillions of dollars, have reduced CO2 emissions and fossil fuel use less than 1 percent.
But wind projects do have tragic impacts on property values, human health (wind turbine syndrome), birds, bats, visual beauty, wildlife, soil stability, water quality, archaeology, and many other important resources. Wind developers jokingly call their projects “bird Cuisinarts”, as some kill 500 birds a day. Instead of costly and destructive wind projects we can fund far more efficient rooftop solar at a fraction of the cost.
Arizona Public Service, the state’s largest utility, announced last week it has stopped any further wind projects because residential and corporate rooftop solar is more energy-productive and cost-effective. And Idaho Power announced a $43 million rate increase due to wind project costs, and that it does not want to invest in further wind projects.
Many wind projects cost $3-5 billion (95 percent paid for by American taxpayers and electricity customers), so under the programs backed by Colorado’s Senators, billions more get added to our national debt. Money we must borrow and may never be able to repay.
The Senate has already turned down this insidious piece of pork four times, but Senators Bennet and Udall are trying to bring it back to life. Heavily lobbied by the wind developers, the House Ways and Means Committee is now working on similar legislation. The wind developers are throwing millions of our money into the campaign, including healthy contributions for accommodating Senators.
Debt? Our Senators aren’t the ones stuck with it. We are. And maybe every American for the rest of time.
Mike Bond is a former international energy company CEO, advisor to over 70 of the world’s largest utilities and energy companies, and a former Democratic U.S. Senate candidate in Montana. He lives in Littleton.
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