The overarching purpose is to expand renewable energy. But is this approach feasible, affordable and economically sound?


With the Senate’s Democratic leadership now poised to introduce a “compromise bill” on energy policy to the floor this week, lawmakers are talking up the merits of renewable technology. Key concessions are being made to placate wavering Republicans who oppose the sweeping industry restrictions included in the Waxman-Markey bill that passed the House last year.

But, there has been very little discussion of global warming concerns that have been invoked in the past as a rationale for “cap and trade” polices. Instead, the political class now says the legislation is needed to help spur green technology and alleviate American dependence on foreign oil.

Unfortunately, The New York Times and other compliant media outlets have allowed key U.S. Senators to shift away from global warming alarmism in the direction of new marketing techniques without any critical examination.

Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, who has been a key Republican player, openly acknowledges that the pending legislation has no correlation with any genuine climate concerns. Moreover, the “climategate” scandal involving leaked emails from the University of East Anglia’s Climate Research Unit (CRU) in Great Britain demonstrates that the science underpinning man-made global warming theories should be called into question. In any event, they are less politically useful.

Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and other top Democrats who have deliberately sidestepped any discussion of the environment should be asked about the “climategate” scandal and the junk science they have all invoked in the past to advance industry restrictions. This time around the discussion revolves around the economy where there is also room for informative articles that measure rhetoric against reality.

“Several senators, including John Kerry, Democrat of Massachusetts, and Joseph I. Lieberman, independent of Connecticut, are trying to create specific plans to draw enough votes across the aisle,” the Times reports. “Mr. Reid outlined four main elements: responding to the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, promoting greater energy efficiency, developing more clean-energy production and curbing power plant emissions.”

“He [Reid] said he was prepared to incorporate a plan championed by T. Boone Pickens, the oil and gas executive, to sharply expand the use of natural gas as a transportation fuel in large vehicle fleets,” the report continues. “The proposal, supported by Senators Orrin G. Hatch, Republican of Utah, and Robert Menendez, Democrat of New Jersey, would provide tax breaks for natural-gas-powered vehicles and fueling stations.”

Not everything in the bill should be seen as a sop to the Sierra Club and other green groups, Reid told The Times. The overarching purpose is to expand renewable energy. But is this approach feasible, affordable and economically sound? These questions have thus far gone missing not only in the New York Times but in other major publications. The Institute for Energy Research (IER) has published detailed reports on state level energy policy that should help to instruct federal lawmakers.

States that already have renewable electricity mandates of some kind have electricity prices that are 40 percent higher than those that do not, Dan Simmons, IER’s director of state affairs noted in a recent conference call.

“Where states get their electricity is the key to the price of electricity as in the sources of electricity generation,” he said. “13 of the 15 states that have the cheapest electricity in this nation either get a majority of electricity from coal or get a majority of their electricity from hydro-electric power –and the problem here is that we’re not building new coal or new hydro electric power – at least large hydroelectric power in the U.S. and that is a problem for electricity prices going forward.”

Another point that should be explored in subsequent coverage concerns the migration patterns the IER has pulled together. It would seem lead sponsors of “cap and trade” schemes tend to be concentrated in areas of the country where electricity prices are already high. Instead of working to alleviate the fiscal burdens on their constituents, congressional figures appear more inclined to drag down neighboring states.

“People are moving to areas of the country where they have a better chance at economic opportunity and the remaining states who have saddled themselves with different layers of regulations are starting to recognize the negative implications of that in the form of fewer jobs, fewer opportunities,” Tom Pyle, president of IER said in an interview. “There’s a manufacturing flight and quite frankly I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the leading proponents of cap and trade bills include a senator from California and a senator from Massachusetts.”

By raising energy prices in other parts of the country like the South and the Midwest, political figures intend to spread the pain and boost living expenses elsewhere so there is less of a flight from their home states.

That’s what you call selfish.

Kevin Mooney is a contributing editor to Americans for Limited Government (ALG) News Bureau and the Executive Editor of TimesCheck.com.