NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

When "Being Green" Means Favoring the Rich

January 31, 2012

During last year's Occupy Wall Street protests, President Obama expressed sympathy with calls for more "green" policies from the self-styled advocates for the 99 percent.  So far, however, the environmental agenda has overwhelmingly favored the 1 percent, say Iain Murray, vice president, and David Bier, a research analyst, at the Competitive Enterprise Institute.

Consider the Obama administration's subsidies for electric vehicles.

  • To start with, there is the $7,500 credit for the car itself.
  • Add to that the recently expired $1,000 credit for installation of a 220-volt charger.
  • And on top of these, the government has thrown more than $3 billion at the Chevrolet Volt alone -- which totals out to $250,000 per vehicle.

Not only do these credits go to corporate giants like General Motors, they subsidize cars for the wealthy.

  • The Volt sells for about $40,000, while the Fisker Karma sells for $100,000 -- well above most Americans' price range.
  • That means that the federal government is again working to benefit the rich so they can drive cars that ease their environmental conscience.

In fact, nearly every environmental policy hurts the poor the most.

  • Last year, Americans spent more on gasoline as a percentage of their income than they have for 30 years.
  • Yet that hasn't stopped the president, cheered on by his environmentalist allies, from rejecting the Keystone XL oil pipeline or restricting offshore oil permits.

Source: Iain Murray and David Bier, "When 'Being Green' Means Subsidies for Rich, Harm for the Poor," Washington Examiner, January 23, 2012.


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