Green Energy Push Harmful to the Economy

February 19, 2013

President Obama doubled down on his commitment to green energy during his State of the Union address, promising more investments to help grow the economy. This commitment fails to recognize current trends in the energy industry, says Diana Furchtgott-Roth, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute.

  • The Labor Department counted 3.1 million green jobs in the U.S. economy in 2012.
  • Green energy is substantially more expensive, which raises utility costs for consumers, particularly low-income Americans who spend a higher proportion of their income on energy.
  • President Obama justifies green energy investments on the grounds that carbon emissions from fossil fuels cause global warming.

The rapidly expanding oil and natural gas industry, not green energy investments, will drive economic growth in the years to come.

  • The trade balance shrank to just $38 billion in December, the smallest in three years, driven by new hydrofracturing ("fracking") technology.
  • "Fracking" has led to a 9 percent increase in exports and an 11 percent decrease in imports as oil and gas companies tap into America's 200-year supply of natural gas.
  • The electricity that is produced from natural gas is 43 percent the cost of solar power, 68 percent the cost of wind power and 57 percent the cost of biomass.

Green energy grants issued after 2009 by the Department of Energy have a dismal record, with more than 90 percent showing some sign of trouble. Of the 33 companies that received grants, four have filed for bankruptcy, two have reported losses and one has furloughed employees.

  • In the 38 states that have passed laws requiring utilities to produce a percentage of their electricity from renewables, consumer energy prices have risen.
  • The Labor Department estimates that the lowest one quintile spends an average of 24 percent of their income on energy, compared to 10 percent of income for those in the middle fifth and 4 percent of income for those in the top fifth.

Source: Diana Furchtgott-Roth, "Obama Must Drop Green For Real Energy," Real Clear Markets, February 12, 2013.

 

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