NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Disarmament in America's Energy Security Battles

November 22, 2010

Development of abundant power and fuel sources is being restrained by regulatory headlocks in favor of much higher-cost "renewable" and "green" alternatives with relatively scant capacity prospects, says Larry Bell, a professor at the University of Houston.

The European Union, which like the United States relies heavily upon coal and oil, has found little salvation through enormous investments in renewable alternatives.

  • A report from Spain discredited the notion of wind power as a job creator, a claim touted by the Obama administration.
  • Researchers at King Juan Carlos University concluded that every "green" job created by the wind industry eliminated 2.2 jobs elsewhere in the Spanish economy.
  • The researchers also found that when a government artificially props up the industry with subsidies, higher electrical costs (in Spain's case 31 percent) and tax hikes (5 percent) along with government debt follow.
  • Every job created was estimated to cost $800,000 to create, and 90 percent of these were temporary.
  • The researchers specifically presented lessons for the United States, warning that potential "self-inflicted wounds" could cost our country 6.6 million jobs if we follow Spain's example.

The European Commission has finally concluded that nuclear power offers the only clean energy solution that can avert a rapidly approaching energy crisis.  Even formerly antinuclear Italy, weary of paying the highest electricity prices in Europe, plans to begin building nuclear plants, says Bell.

Long neglected, expansion of nuclear infrastructure development (which currently provides about 20 percent of U.S. power), is an inevitable priority here as well.  Such initiatives are being hampered by regulatory and permitting processes, and also by a lack of safe waste storage accommodations.

Let's heed lessons from Europe's failed green adventures:  Develop all practical energy alternatives, but let free markets, not government, pick the winners, says Bell.

Source: Larry Bell, "Disarmament in America's Energy Security Battles," Forbes, November 18, 2010.

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