NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

The Reality behind Clean Energy Standards

September 6, 2011

Climate activists failed to achieve comprehensive greenhouse gas controls in the United States in the form of a cap-and-trade program.  And while they pursue incremental greenhouse gas regulation at both the federal and state level, they have not given up on their Holy Grail of a comprehensive national regime to control greenhouse gas emissions.  Instead, they have rebranded their campaign, says Kenneth P. Green, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute.

  • The current incarnation of the greenhouse gas agenda is hidden in the campaign for a national Clean Energy Standard, or CES.
  • Other terms for this approach are Renewable Energy Standards (RES), or, even more obliquely, Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS).
  • While many states have already implemented such standards, the push now is for federalization.

What they all come down to, at the end of the day, is a governmental mandate that energy utilities must buy and distribute a certain percentage of energy that comes from so-called "clean" sources, such as wind power, solar power, nuclear power, "clean coal," and so on.

Here's why Clean Energy Standards are a bad idea:

  • They are hidden energy taxes.
  • They are hidden subsidies.
  • They are hidden greenhouse gas controls.
  • They are hidden technology standards.
  • They decrease consumer choice.

The new stealth approach to energy policy being pushed under the guise of a Clean Energy Standard is frankly dishonest, says Green.

Source: Kenneth P. Green, "Not Free to Choose: The Reality behind Clean Energy Standards," American Enterprise Institute, August 23, 2011.

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