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  • Demonizing Energy Producers

    Posted by David Foster on June 26th, 2009 (All posts by )

    In a statement intended to help justify the proposed “cap and trade” energy tax, Barack Obama said:

    At a time of great fiscal challenges, this legislation is paid for by the polluters who currently emit the dangerous carbon emissions that contaminate the water we drink and pollute the air we breathe.

    There are so many things wrong with this that one scarcely knows where to begin.

    Obama demonizes those who emit “dangerous carbon emissions” (ie, CO2–the same substance you breathe out with every breath, not some exotic poison)…a category which encompasses virtually every electrical utility facility in America, and a high percentage of industrial facilities. Most of these plants were using the best available technology at the time they were constructed. Does Obama really think that a coal- or gas-fired power plant, built in, say, 1985, should have been built instead as a solar plant? Does Obama know what solar cells cost in 1985? Even today, solar and wind power are considerably more expensive than conventional sources, and in 1985, the gap was much, much larger.

    The statement “this legislation is paid for by the polluters” is clearly fraudulent. The investors in power utilities include many pension funds, as well as individual 401(k) and other investment portfolios: to the extent that the tax is paid by shareholders and bondholders, it would be felt by individuals in the form of lower investment returns and/or jeopardy to their pension payouts. But in reality, most of the tax would necessarily be passed through to utility bills and manufactured product prices. Obama knows this: during the campaign, he admitted that his energy proposals would cause utility bills to rise. The legislation would also make U.S.-manufactured products, especially those that are energy-intensive in their production, less competitive with those in other countries, and would lay additional heavy burdens on American manufacturing.

    In the same speech, Obama says “These incentives will finally make clean energy the profitable kind of energy. And that will lead to the development of new technologies that lead to new industries that could create millions of new jobs in America – jobs that cannot be shipped overseas.” The truth is that–as noted above–the energy tax would cause many existing manufacturing jobs to be shipped overseas, and would prevent other manufacturing jobs from ever being created in the first place. And even with regard to specific jobs in the manufacturing of “clean technology” equipment, the statement is false. Wind turbines, for instance, can come from Vestas or Siemens as well as from GE. Or does Obama also want to prohibit the import of this kind of equipment and start a global trade war?

    The Obama/Reid/Pelosi Democrats like to talk about “nuance” and about their appreciation of “shades of gray” when talking about terrorists and dictators. But when dealing with energy and with American business, there is no room for complexity or nuance: only for simplistic black-and-white pictures and demonization of those whom it is convenient to demonize.

    Related:

    Spain’s experience with “green jobs”

    Attempted suppression by the Obama administration of a scientific report raising inconvenient concerns about their position on climate change

     

    6 Responses to “Demonizing Energy Producers”

    1. Andrew_M_Garland Says:

      In a year we could hear this from Obama. Somone tell me why this won’t work.

      “Yes, the price for gasoline and heating fuel has gone up, and the costs for many necessities of life.

      “This is the fault of the energy companies who took a vital program, the carbon cap, and recklessly passed these costs onto the public, rather than adjusting their business practices.

      “Until these companies can act responsibly, my administration will temporarily manage these company’s energy practices and carbon footprint. I don’t want to be a manager of American business, but the current crisis forces government to act.”

    2. Ming the Merciless Siamese Cat Says:

      Obama is being perfectly honest. He says that the legislation will be “paid for by the polluters who currently emit the dangerous carbon emissions.” We all emit carbon and we will all pay for this monstrosity.

    3. Trouble Says:

      Wind turbines, for instance, can come from Vestas or Siemens as well as from GE. Or does Obama also want to prohibit the import of this kind of equipment and start a global trade war?

      Our “scientist” at the DOE, Steven Chu, basically said as much. When asked about the disadvantage that US business would bear under cap-and-tax, his first suggestion was a tariff.

      On a related note, the recent and idiotic “we need carbon caps to rescue Anerican manufacturing” TV PSAs have been pulled off the air, at least where I live. How did the steelworkers who made these spots keep a straight face?

      GE will make their subsidized turbines in Mexico using Chinese steel. NTTAWWT.

    4. veryretired Says:

      This cap and trade legislation is the Smoot-Hawley anchor to fully engage all the depressionary factors in the current economic downturn and turn it into a full fledged depression. I hesitate to say that this policy outcome is, in fact, the true purpose of the bill, but it will give the statist elements another major excuse to enlarge their governmental response to yet another big crisis.

      And, as in the original credit collapse, this political implosion will be designated as an economic crisis brought on by reckless capitalism, requireing further state intrusion to save the nation from itself.

      By the way, just love Ming’s screen name.

    5. Tatyana Says:

      I hear the bill passed.
      We are heading down with acceleration.

    6. Robert Schwartz Says:

      BO has gotten so bad that AP published an analysis of the first BO quote above:

      THE FACTS: Carbon dioxide is not directly harmful to humans’ air and water in the way of traditional pollutants, such as sulfur dioxide or mercury. Carbon dioxide has no direct effect on drinking-water quality, but is likely to affect how much is available. Carbon dioxide in itself is not harmful when inhaled in normal amounts, but increased warming from carbon dioxide increases harmful smog.

      The gas that is exhaled every time a person breathes, and released by the burning of fossil fuels, is primarily considered a pollutant because as it builds up in the atmosphere it raises the temperature of the planet.

      Research has shown that the warmer temperatures caused by the buildup of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases can reduce the amount of oxygen in lakes, rivers and reservoirs making it difficult for fish and other living things to survive. The increased rainfall expected to come with global warming could also wash more pollutants into waterways, but more rain could also dilute pollution such as pesticides, sediment and fertilizer.

      When it comes to air pollution, warmer temperatures can worsen smog and other air-quality problems. But carbon dioxide itself does not taint water or pollute the air. It is the warming it contributes to that can.

      Link