The lies we tell about green energy

Move over Siegfried & Roy. Make room for Sen. Harry Reid’s Psychedelic Green Magic Machine.

Step right up, check your common sense at the door and watch dog-faced politicians tell lies and make piles of taxpayer money disappear.

The Psychedelic Green Magic Machine, also known as National Clean Energy Summit 4.0, played Las Vegas last week. It was a festival of unchallenged mushy liberal thought.

The conclave broke down into three big lies.

Fib No. 1: Green energy is also a jobs program.

No theme echoed more than this one. Sen. Reid, Vice President Joe Biden and Energy Secretary Steven Chu said it. And I suspect President Obama plans to repeat the lie in his speech to Congress this week.

Truth is, green energy provides few jobs beyond the initial construction phase, every single one of which hinges on continued federal subsidies.

For example, the city of Seattle spent $20 million to create 14 solar energy jobs, and Nevada spent $12 million to produce five jobs. Only in the most socialistic regions of the economic amusement park called ObamaLand can that kind of deal be called good.

Fib No. 2: Green energy reduces American dependence on foreign oil. That’s true only if you mean it in the same sense that a little kid peeing in the Pacific Ocean helps melt the polar icecap.

Solar energy costs 35 times more than coal, oil and gas. If we really wanted to reduce American dependence on foreign oil, we could do it in a generation by focusing on all available domestic energy products. Yet Team Obama pays attention only to the one least likely to make a difference.

Want to make unfriendly Middle East despots quake in fear? Double down on coal.

Green energy isn’t going to do it. There is simply not enough money in the federal treasury to fund enough solar, wind and geothermal projects to put a significant dent in America’s foreign oil use this year, 10 years from now or 25 years from now.

And even if the economics were there, it would produce so little power at such an extraordinarily high cost, only the Amish could make the conversion without a significant lifestyle change.

Consider, if you will, Solyndra, a California solar outfit that the Bush and Obama administrations backed with more than $500 million in loan guarantees. The Obama administration, which took a wad of campaign cash from Solyndra execs, called Solyndra a shining example of stimulus dollars at work. The president even used the plant for a re-election photo-op.

But, alas, while Reid’s confab played “Let’s Pretend Green Energy Really Works” in Las Vegas, the real world sent Solyndra into bankruptcy, sticking taxpayers with the tab. More than 1,000 workers were laid off.

What changed in the marketplace, according to Solyndra, were the increased subsidies by the Chinese government to Chinese competitors of Solyndra. In other words, China out Obama-ed Obama.

Do I have to tell you Obama’s response to that? You guessed it: Biden, at Reid’s confab, said the answer is to provide greater subsidies to keep pace with the Chinese. There’s a pretty left-wing circle for you.

Fib No. 3: Federal spending spurs greater innovation.

As Chu said, the federal government has always primed the pump of American ingenuity — from land grant colleges to the transcontinental railroad to the space program.

That might be a fair observation — if that were what was actually going on. Yes, we facilitated a handful of land-grant colleges — but not 16 in each state. We spurred a sensible westward railroad grid, not 15 lines 50 feet apart from St. Louis to Portland. We grubstaked one American space program, not 20 to the highest political contributors of JFK.

We’re handing out welfare in the form of duplicative alternate energy subsidies like it were Halloween candy. We’re even giving some to communist Chinese companies. Have we no shame?

And to make the mess worse, Reid & Co. are not giving out cash to reward technological advancements, per se. Reid and Obama are using solar projects like FDR used the old Work Progress Administration, the make-work jobs program initiated during the Depression.

There is a place for federal subsidies for green energy projects. But the funding should be less political and more scientific. It should be efficient, effective and in balance with this one overriding objective: Facilitate innovation so that one day Americans may enjoy cost-effective alternative energy.

Sadly, the liberal idea of green energy investments is little more than a political agenda to spend money with no accountability, proportion or clear purpose.

And that trick grows weary on an American public suffering mightily through the Obama economy.

Sherman Frederick, former publisher of the Las Vegas Review-Journal, writes a weekly column for Stephens Media.

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