Ronald: Partly due to your prior comments (thanks!), I've changed the focus of these pieces from subsidies to the umbrella term of "welfare," because it strikes me as more accurate. Wouldn't it be fairer to also stop having taxpayers pay to clean up the mess that dirty energy makes or to just absorb the ruination of public property by the fossil industries?
If we did all that, then I'd like to see how "real" the dirty energy guys can get on "competing on price" [not your quotes, but their common refrains].
Thanks to Clifford Goudey for raising important points. It's an open question how dependent dirty energy is on government welfare for its profitability. It's interesting how reluctant these self-proclaimed "cheap" energy sources so tenaciously cling to government support of all types.
Bravo, Tom. Well said!
There have been a rash of columns recently in which pundits, mostly conservative, have done dirty energy's dirty work by attacking renewable energy as "costly" or "not ready." The Wall Street Journal editorial page is the latest to move this laughable nonsense.
I look forward to these same pundits, all of whom have long-expressed concerns about government spending, vigorously calling for ending the hundreds of billions of dollars in subsidies, tax breaks, pollution forgiveness, and research grants that coal and oil annually enjoy in the U.S. and abroad.
Those century-old energy sources are comprised of some of the most profitable corporations in the history of the world. Do they really need our tax money to get by, especially when Americans want deficits cut and renewable energy supported?
And, if government support is a sign of supposed "immaturity," at what point do the coal and oil companies lose the teenage acne and grow up?
Let's kick Massey Energy and ExxonMobil off government welfare, then have a conversation about whose technology is "costly."
All the back-and-forth about the merits of the conservative worldview miss the consistency challenge to free-market, small-government conservatives: Where is your outrage at the taxpayer money being thrown at highly profitable, dirty energy companies - $557B worldwide, according to the International Energy Administration. They total almost $100B here in the U.S. alone, according to federal sources. These are discoverable with a simple Google search, so saying, "sorry, I don't see subsidies" only means you haven't looked.
I can see why small-government purists want to oppose policies that support the growth of new energy industries. That's at least consistent. I think it's wrong for America, and our international competitors think its great that we're doing a fraction of what they are in spurring clean energy industries.
But where is your opposition to the atrocious waste of OUR money in the largess the fossil fuel industry players get -- and fight to keep? I might have missed it, but I haven't seen a single conservative commenter here address this point since I raised it in the second comment.
The bottom line is that these energy sources have been around for 150+ years, and they are being bankrolled by government to the tune of several hundred billion dollars a year. Does Rex Tillerson or Don Blankenship seriously need our money to get by? if so, how cost-effective does that make them?
More importantly, can you or anyone seriously talk about "costs" without factoring in the costs TO US as taxpayers from subsidies, loopholes, etc.
If we kick these large, highly profitable corporations completely off government welfare, then we could have a straight-up conversation about which energy sources are "costly" or not.
I suspect a lot of dirty energy defenders would not like the welfare-free costs of dirty energy.
Thank you, David Anthony, for starting this conversation with such a spot-on post. Your experience as an investor mirrors what we see as a PR firm focused on scaling cleantech businesses. The issue-isolated have a steeper challenge because they don't have the readily available best practices access that clusters provide.
We envy those commenting here with "marketing doesn't matter" assertions – they are operating in meritocracies we haven't found yet.
An excellent step toward getting co-ops to be more forward looking is to encouarge the Commonwealth of Virginia to fire paid global warming "debunker" Patrick Michaels. Recent news accounts have now confirmed what many of us suspected all along: Michaels is a paid industry propagandist, having gotten money, without their members' knowledge, from utility co-ops who want to keep on making the global warming problem worse. He has no business remaining in a position to take taxpayer money while moonlighting in his more destructive role. Tell 'em what you think by emailing: email@example.com