Back to the Future on Green Energy | Citizens Against Government Waste

Back to the Future on Green Energy

The WasteWatcher

As of today, President Biden has issued 25 Executive Orders since he entered the Oval Office, more than his last five predecessors combined during their first two weeks in office.  On Wednesday, January 27, he signed an Executive Order (EO), “Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad,” which is the most expensive, expansive, and elaborate plan intended to address climate change ever implemented by a President.  The EO is intended to create jobs, build infrastructure, and deliver environmental justice.  It will also make climate change “as essential element of U.S. foreign policy and national security.”  Added to his prior announcements to rejoin the Paris Climate agreement, suspend oil and gas leases on federal lands, and spending billions of dollars on climate change initiatives, the EO is another decision by President Biden that will cost Americans trillions of dollars in higher energy prices, lost wages, and a lower gross domestic product that will do little to decrease global warming.

The EO declares the United States and the world faces a “profound climate crisis” and that we have a “narrow moment to pursue action at home and abroad” and that “domestic action must go hand in hand with United States international leadership, aimed at significantly enhancing global action.”  But climate change doomsayers, like Al Gore, have been preaching a climate apocalypse for years and not much has changed.

Biden’s Climate Czar, former Senator John Kerry said at a United Nations Climate Adaption Summit on January 25 that, “Three years ago scientists gave us a stark warning.  They said we have 12 years within which to avoid the worst consequences of climate change.  Now we have nine years left and I regret that my country has been absent for three of those years.”  Two days later at the EO announcement on Wednesday, Kerry admitted the U.S. could go to zero carbon emissions by the next day and the problem would not be solved because 90 percent of the planet’s emissions are created outside of U.S. borders.

Kerry also failed to note that according to the International Energy Agency, the United States has the largest reduction in “CO2 emissions in 2019 on a country basis – a fall of 140 Mt, or 2.9%, to 4.8 Gt. US emissions are now down almost 1 Gt from their peak in the year 2000, the largest absolute decline by any country over that period.  A 15% reduction in the use of coal for power generation underpinned the decline in overall US emissions in 2019.  Coal-fired power plants faced even stronger competition from natural gas-fired generation, with benchmark gas prices an average of 45% lower than 2018 levels.  As a result, gas increased its share in electricity generation to a record high of 37%.”

The climate change EO builds on the disastrous job-killing EO that revoked the license for, thus shutting down, the expansion of the Keystone XL Pipeline that CAGW discussed in a January 22 WasteWatcher blog.  When asked about the loss of jobs caused by that decision, Kerry said in effect, “let them become solar panel installers.”  A November 16, 2020 Real Clear Energy article noted in January 2020, before COVID 19 struck, workers in the oil and gas sector had an average pay of $2,059.28.  By contrast, in 2019, the average wage for wind turbine technicians was $1,014.71 a week and solar panel installers had an average wage of $860.91.  A solar panel installer would have to work 2.4 times longer to earn the same pre-tax wages as workers in the oil and gas industry.

The EO also creates a Task Force that will “facilitate the organization and deployment of a Government-wide approach to combat the climate crisis.  This Task Force shall facilitate planning and implementation of key Federal actions to reduce climate pollution; increase resilience to the impacts of climate change; protect public health; conserve our lands, waters, oceans, and biodiversity; deliver environmental justice; and spur well-paying union jobs and economic growth.”

The administration plans to use federal dollars to have a “carbon pollution-free electricity sector no later than 2035 and produce clean and zero-emission vehicles for Federal, State, local, and Tribal government fleets,” including the United States Postal Service.

The nation has seen this green energy “movie” before during the Obama administration and it did not end well.  CAGW’s 2015 Issue Brief, “The Sun Should Set on Solar Socialism,” discussed how taxpayer dollars flowed freely to politically well-connected companies like Solyndra.  The solar power company received a $535 million loan from the Obama administration’s Department of Energy as part of the 2009 stimulus package.  President Obama, at a highly publicized visit to the company’s headquarters six months before the 2010 mid-term elections, declared that the “true engine of economic growth will always be companies like Solyndra.”  The day after the 2010 election, the company began to lay off employees and would have done so sooner, if not for White House pressure.  Six months later, the company filed for bankruptcy.

But Solyndra was not the only company that squandered taxpayer dollars.  A Heritage Foundation October 2012 Daily Signal article reported there were 33 companies that received billions of dollars in taxpayer funding from the Obama Department of Energy that were either faltering or had already filed for bankruptcy.

Heritage Foundation Senior Fellow Stephen Moore’s Real Clear Politics January 19, 2021 column, “Get Ready for More Obama-Era Green Energy Scams” discussed several other government-funded disasters.  For example, Crescent Dunes, a thermal power plant, received more than $975 million in federal funds.  It was supposed to provide half-a-million megawatts-hours of electric power energy every year, but never came close to its goal.  The company shut down in December and is now in Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization.

Biden’s new Climate Crisis EO has additional action plans like requiring every agency to “bolster adaption and increase resilience to the impacts of climate change,” and rebuilding infrastructure for a sustainable economy while reducing climate pollution.  It also creates a Civilian Climate Corps, another wasteful government make-work initiative reminiscent of the New Deal.

The EO calls on American farmers, ranchers, and forest landowners to sequester “carbon in soils, grasses, trees and other vegetation and sourcing sustainable bioproducts and fuels,” which sounds like an expensive and unaffordable mandate on how to manage their property and raise their livestock.

The EO demands “securing environmental justice and spurring economic opportunity” by “investing and building a clean energy economy that creates well‑paying union jobs, turning disadvantaged communities – historically marginalized and overburdened – into healthy, thriving communities, and undertaking robust actions to mitigate climate change while preparing for the impacts of climate change across rural, urban, and Tribal areas.”  There is a requirement that 40 percent of the benefits of federal expenditures go to “disadvantaged communities” and sets up a tracking system to determine if that goal is being met.  There is no requirement that the funds should be spent effectively or efficiently, just that they should go to achieve that policy objective.

The giant thorn in these grand ideas is that 88 percent of energy generated in the U.S. comes from fossil fuels and nuclear according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, while renewable energy only makes up 11 percent.  And solar and wind power are inefficient and unreliable when weather conditions change.  A December 24, 2020 Reason article discussed the huge land mass required to build a carbon free power grid and trade-offs needed for a massive increase in green energy source, including relying on China for rare-earth metals that are necessary to build solar panels and wind turbines.  And the Biden administration will have to deal with the NIMBY crowd, like when John Kerry was not the Climate Czar and opposed building wind turbines in Nantucket Sound, arguing that there are probably windier places to build than off the coast from his home in Nantucket.

Another  concern is Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s (D-N.Y.) suggestion that President Biden declare  a “climate emergency.”  In doing so, all funds spent on the “emergency” would be in a special category of the budget that would not “count” against the annual deficit but would of course be added to the overall national debt.  That would unleash even more wasteful and inefficient spending on “climate change.”

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