Scared does not make for good energy policy

Like Jimmy Carter before him, Barack Obama is using condescending scare tactics to push a dead-end energy agenda. However, in American politics, disingenuous predictions of doom often backfire, for both sides of the aisle. Photo: Washington Times

Washington, D.C. –Like Jimmy Carter before him, Barack Obama is using condescending scare tactics to push a dead-end energy agenda. However, in American politics, disingenuous predictions of doom often backfire, for both sides of the aisle.

Couple that with a flawed understanding of economics and the result is more money spent with scant results realized.

On April 18, 1977, a very earnest looking then President Jimmy Carter told us, “The oil and natural gas we rely on for 75 percent of our energy are running out. Unless profound changes are made to lower oil consumption, we now believe that early in the 1980s the world will be demanding more oil that it can produce.” 

This statement frightened many Americans, but it motivated Venezuela along with Arab and African nations such as Iraq, Iran and Nigeria to increase production of oil.  By the end of the 1970s, the world saw rapidly increasing prices and we didn’t run out of oil. In fact, the world increased production from the 60 million barrels of oil a day in 1977 to almost 86 million barrels per day currently, according to the U.S. Energy Administration.

That oil and natural gas has turned out to be abundant is not to say that pursuit of alternative energy sources is a waste of time. There are many reasons to pursue conversion of our renewable natural resources to energy, especially independence from those producer nations listed. The issue is tactic and policy approaches from our government. So far, at least in terms of energy, fear has not led to good policy for the United States.

Today, Barack Obama is using even gloomier and scarier rhetoric than Carter with the same results. Except now it’s the Asian nations that are moving forward aggressively and beating us in the development and manufacturing of renewable energy technology; China alone plans to spend more than $740 billion over the next 10 years for renewable technologies.

In November 2008, President elect Obama sent a video message to a global warming summit hosted by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger of California: “Few challenges facing America — and the world – are more urgent than combating climate change…The science is beyond dispute and the facts are clear. Sea levels are rising. Coastlines are shrinking. We’ve seen record drought, spreading famine, and storms that are growing stronger with each passing hurricane season. Climate change and our dependence on foreign oil, if left unaddressed, will continue to weaken our economy and threaten our national security.”

That’s even scarier than Carter’s prediction, but the science is not beyond dispute (See a fairly balanced set of interviews on the climate change topic at PBS Warming debate). Yet, I’m scared. My kids are scared. What’s the government response to this impending doom?

President Obama’s first step was integrated into the massive stimulus plan. Of the $787 billion, $5 billion went for weatherizing homes and public buildings to improve their energy efficiency. This step was going to reduce our carbon emissions and create almost 900,000 jobs, according to the Green Recovery reports written by Obama transition director John Podesta. Podesta and his cohorts authored most of the key reports used by the Obama Administration to support the stimulus and cap-and-trade. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, the program created or saved about 13,000 minimum-wage jobs to date.

The second step is a cap-and-trade system more rigorous than any other in the world, which he’s said will create a larger market for nonfossil-fuel-based energy because government policy will put a high cost on the emission of carbon.

With explanations of cap-and-trade have come more scary predictions. In one interview Obama said,

Under my plan of a cap-and-trade system, electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket.”

And for power developers, Obama said,

 “So if somebody wants to build a coal-powered plant, they can; it’s just that it will bankrupt them because they’re going to be charged a huge sum for all that greenhouse gas that’s being emitted.”

Ted Nordhaus and Michael Shellenberger of Breakthrough Institute recently wrote an article showing up all over the internet entitled Green Jobs for Janitors: How Keynesians and Neoliberals Wrecked Obama’s Promise of a Clean Energy Economy. In it they succinctly explain that Obama’s green energy agenda will not succeed because it is based on a flawed understanding of economics and what spurs new technology development and adaptation.

The United States continues to spend literally billions supposedly for movement toward energy independence yet Canada, Europe and Asia are out-competing, out-manufacturing, and out-implementing us still.


Read in the Washington Times: China races ahead of U.S. to invest in green energy


Technical and creative writer, Carla G. Harper follows current events with one eye on history and one eye on the future.  Her goal is to encourage people to think critically about what’s going on, both around them and in their lives. Follow Carla at Twitter: CarlaGHarper

This article is the copyrighted property of the writer and Communities @ Written permission must be obtained before reprint in online or print media. REPRINTING TWTC CONTENT WITHOUT PERMISSION AND/OR PAYMENT IS THEFT AND PUNISHABLE BY LAW.

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Carla Garrison

Carla writes about current issues and events with an aim toward telling the truth, using the writings of great thinkers, dead and living, as well as common sense.

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