I participated in a debate last night in Miami, sponsored by Lexus, called “The Dark Side of Green.” To the carmaker’s credit, this is edgy and clever marketing for its hybrid luxury SUV that the nodding classes might find paradoxical — but with a spine, so very unusual from business.
In such a forum — in a nightclub, after an hour of thumping bass and freely flowing liquor, 60-second response time and other factors — neither I nor my counterpart, author Amanda Little, plowed any new ground. In fact, I (and the audience) got to listen to lots of silly “everyone’s doing it, the Pentagon says this is our doom, ClimateGate was a victory for Team Alarmism” boilerplate. But the glaring weakness — the ultimate thesis resorted to at each turn, and one that will persist as the global-warming agenda tries to make its way thrtough Congress in the coming months: It’s time to let renewables compete. The poor dears.
I noted the relative subsidies for various energy sources, including the fact that wind and solar get in the neighborhood of 100 times the subsidy that oil and gas do, per unit of energy produced (according to the Energy Information Administration: $23.50 per MwH for wind, $24.50 for solar, $0.25 for oil and gas, whereas coal gets $0.44, nukes about $1.60, and dams $0.60).
So, erm, yes, let them compete. We’ve witnessed five decades of coddling and protection for these industries already. Renewables are like those 45-year-olds my (mostly female) Northern Italian friends joke about as still living with their parents in the South. That is, if their parents’ basement is a suite at the Conrad, and it’s breaking the folks’ bank.
So on this point of agreement I repeat: beginning with Harry Reid’s looming “green economy” bill (that is, the Obama Energy Tax–cum-windmill subsidy) this month, let’s finally give those poor, infantilized renewables we’ve kept under our wing for all these years their chance to compete. If we can’t zero out subsidies, let’s just equalize them, to level that playing field. But the trough is empty, and carrying them around like this is breaking our back.