Thursday, January 31, 2013

Obama’s path toward energy poverty

by Tom Harris

In his inaugural address last week, President Obama demonstrated that he is putting people at risk with misguided climate and energy policies.

If there really were an increased threat from “raging fires, and crippling drought, and more powerful storms,” as the president indicated in his speech, then America would need more, not fewer sources of reliable and affordable energy to prepare for and cope with these hazards. More electricity would be needed to handle greater demands for air conditioning and heating. More power would be required to irrigate drought-ridden lands, build dikes, harden public infrastructure and relocate populations living on flood plains or in harm’s way due to tornadoes and hurricanes.

Yet instead of promoting the most reliable and least expensive energy technologies, such as coal-fired electricity generation, Mr. Obama encourages the least reliable and most expensive sources. It was certainly an understatement to say, as he did in the address, “The path toward sustainable energy sources will be long and sometimes difficult.” He should have added, “and virtually useless,” because the sustainable energy sources he has most in mind are wind and solar power.

The president presents the transition to these technologies as an economic benefit. He asserted, “We cannot cede to other nations the technology that will power new jobs and new industries — we must claim its promise. That is how we will maintain our economic vitality.”

No, that is how you ruin a country’s economy.

Sustainable energy sources have had decades to mature. Energy from wind and solar power still costs between 3 and 10 times more than energy from conventional sources like coal, oil, natural gas and nuclear. The government had to funnel billions of dollars into subsidies for “green energy” technologies just to keep them afloat during Mr. Obama’s first term, and some failed even then. The Energy Information Administration shows that for 2010, non-hydroelectric renewable electricity generation was still only 3.6 percent of all generation, but it received 53.5 percent of all federal financial support for the electric power sector.

No country, the United States included, can afford to sustain this indefinitely.

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