It’s been a rough two years for global warming alarmists.
Cap and trade failed in 2009, despite the fact that Democrats controlled the House, Senate and White House. The recent United Nations summit produced an agreement that means little — with countries like Canada dropping off an extension of the Kyoto Protocol. Meanwhile, high unemployment and economic woes are drawing public attention from environmental issues.
Groups like the Sierra Club and Greenpeace, left in the legislative wilderness, must be wondering where to go from here. The consensus among Democratic offices on Capitol Hill is that the best hope for their agenda — now that cap and trade is dead for good — is to pass a national renewable energy standard. This would require utility companies to produce a certain percentage of electricity from renewable sources.
Thankfully, we have the states — those “50 laboratories of democracy,” as Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis called them — to show us that this mandate, like cap and trade, would drive up electricity bills for families, increase costs for employers and destroy jobs — and likely be unfeasible, to boot.
A renewable energy standard is nothing new. In fact, 29 states and the District of Columbia have a binding renewable energy standard on the books. The Democratic election waves of 2006 and 2008 swept in many liberal state legislators who, though they hadn’t run on it, passed renewable energy mandates once in office.
We’ve now had a few years to see some of the results. It isn’t pretty for taxpayers or the economy.
Renewable energy standards, by design, are intended to drive up energy costs — requiring utilities to use more expensive and often less reliable sources of energy. Not surprisingly, such laws have hit ratepayers hard. States that have a binding RES now have electricity costs that are 39 percent higher than states that don’t have a binding RES.
Suffolk University’s Beacon Hill Institute has examined the effects of these mandates in individual states, and the results don’t get better. The RES in North Carolina, one of 2012’s key battleground states, is projected to reduce real disposable income by $56.8 million and likely be responsible for the loss of 3,592 jobs by 2021.
New Mexicans could pay an estimated $2.3 billion more for their power and lose more than 2,800 jobs by 2020, as a result of that state’s RES. Beacon Hill projected similarly bleak economic effects in various other states with an RES.
Opposition to renewable energy mandates should not be misinterpreted as an aversion to renewable energy. In fact, renewable sources could play a significant role in the future. But as Todd Wynn of the American Legislative Exchange Council astutely noted in a Cascade Policy Institute report: “Legislation that forces the use of renewable energies despite the resistance of the economy distorts the free market, reduces our freedom and raises the cost of doing business, thus endangering economic growth.”
Repealing renewable energy mandates already on the books in these 29 states would reduce costs for employers and promote economic growth. It’s not just good policy, it’s smart politics heading into an important election year.
With unemployment so high and the economy still in critical condition, the Pew Research Center’s latest annual survey of Americans’ top priorities found global warming ranked 21st — one spot above last place. The Pew survey listed the economy and jobs as the top two issues, respectively, with 87 percent of Americans citing the economy as their highest priority.
Legislators in states around the country are now working with Americans for Tax Reform to repeal renewable energy mandates in 2012. The iron is hottest to strike in states where Republicans recently took control of both the Legislature and the governorship — including Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio and Pennsylvania. Those Rust Belt states have high unemploy...
Continue reading here.
Grover Norquist is president of Americans for Tax Reform. Patrick Gleason is its director of state affairs.
Fair Use Notice: This website may reproduce or have links to copyrighted material the use of which has not been expressly authorized by the copyright owner. We make such material available, without profit, as part of our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, economic, scientific, and related issues. It is our understanding that this constitutes a "fair use" of any such copyrighted material as provided by law. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes that go beyond "fair use," you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.