The Clinton campaign’s newly announced “ambitious renewable energy plans” move far beyond Obama’s highly criticized efforts that have increased costs and jeopardized reliability—but they appease environmental activists and wealthy donors. Obama’s policies push a goal of producing 20 percent of the nation’s electricity from renewables by 2030; hers is 33 percent by 2027. We are at 7 percent today.
At a rally in Ames, IA, Clinton said: “I want more wind, more solar, more advanced biofuels, more energy efficiency.” She added: “And, I’ve got to tell you, people who argue against this are just not paying attention.”
I’ve got to tell you, the Clinton campaign isn’t paying attention—or, it is paying attention to the demands of wealthy campaign donors.
The White House has received aggressive push back and a Supreme Court’s smack down over the administration’s policies designed to cut carbon dioxide by requiring renewables.
A growing list of governors refuses to comply with Obama’s Clean Power Plan (CPP)—the cornerstone of his climate agenda—and Congress has pending legislation giving the governors the authority to “just say no” if such plans would negatively affect electricity rates, reliability, or important economic sectors. Other efforts to restrain the CPP include reducing the budget of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)—which is tasked with CPP implementation. The 2016 Interior Department and EPA spending bill developed by the Senate Appropriations Committee, reduces EPA’s budget by $538 million from its 2015 level.
Clinton pledged, according to The Guardian, “to uphold the Obama administration’s heavily opposed restrictions on carbon emissions of power stations, which are expected to accelerate the rapid shut-down of coal plants across the country.” Don’t worry, though, if you are one of thousands of employees put out of work, or a retiree whose pension includes utilities or mining companies that have lost value, because of these policies, according to the New York Times (NYT): “Mrs. Clinton promised that in coming months she would unwrap additional climate policies, including aid to workers in coal-producing regions who suffer economic harm.” So now, instead of having a good-paying job and contributing to the economy, those who used to work in the coal industry will become wards of the state—while those of us who still have jobs pay for the “aid” through our taxes.
To meet her goals, NYT reports: “Congress would have to mandate production of renewable power, or to tax greenhouse gas pollution—both proposals that have floundered on Capitol Hill.” If she’s paying attention, Clinton would acknowledge that she’ll have virtually no chance of that succeeding as she’ll likely have at least one house, and probably both, still controlled by Republicans for her first two years in office. NYT adds: “Policy analysts said it could be tough for Mrs. Clinton to follow through on such ambitious goals.”
Meeting her 33 percent goal would also require “further federal investment,” which would require “resuscitation of tax credits and some innovation and regulatory incentives”—all of which add up to more government spending of tax-payers dollars and more debt. The Guardian points out that the recent growth in solar installations has been “aided by the soon-to-expire solar investment tax credit,” which Clinton will have to try to “revive.” Leading climate alarmist James Hansen, formerly with NASA, surprisingly, announced: Clinton’s plan “is going to make energy more expensive.”
Due to dire economic consequences, other countries have abandoned or, at least, dialed back on, CO2 reduction plans—but, perhaps, she isn’t paying attention.
The Australian, in an article titled: Renewable energy: hopes scaled back in Britain, Germany and US, starts out saying: “Ambitious plans to greatly boost renewable energy to cut carbon dioxide emissions have collided with political and economic reality in Britain, Germany and the US.” The story begins with Australia’s own experience with its now defunct carbon tax: which caused a “strong backlash to rising electricity costs.” It chronicles Britain’s “determination to stop runaway electricity prices and check green energy spending.” For Germany it states: “the Merkel government has been forced to scrap a plan for an environmental levy on coal producers.” And, “Despite the billions spent on wind and solar projects, Germany still generates 44 percent of its electricity from coal.” It concludes, that for Germany, “The cost of the transition in terms of household power bills and industry competitiveness is proving difficult.” It also cites several difficulties for “The U.S. President’s green energy plans.” While the article points out “Renewable energy companies have said the withdrawal of subsidies will cripple the industry,” it summarizes: “Rising electricity prices are cited as the reason for the backlash against renewable subsidies.”
The Guardian coverage of Clinton’s climate plan echoes comments from The Australian: “In Germany and the UK, the solar industry has come under political pressure for being too successful when subsidies were high and now suffers from accusations of being a ‘subsidy junky’” It also warns: “People in the U.S. may care less about climate change than they do about cost.”
Clinton’s “ambitious” plans will take money from your pocket through increased taxes and higher energy bills, but it will help her ambitions by putting money in her campaign and help her expansive political network—a fact to which voters need to pay attention.
Why isn’t Clinton paying attention to the backlash against renewable energy and the higher costs it imposes on consumers and industry? The answer is clearly laid out in the NYT: “Mrs. Clinton’s strategists see climate change as a winning issue for 2016. They believe it is a cause she can advance to win over deep-pocketed donors”—specifically billionaire environmentalist Tom Steyer who held a fund raiser for her in May. He’s announced that “for candidates to receive his support in 2016, they must offer policies that would lead the nation to generate half its electricity from clean sources by 2030 and 100 percent by 2050.” When it says that Steyer influenced “the details of her proposal,” the NYT is, in essence, acknowledging that she is paying attention to her wealthy donors. Her press secretary tweeted: “Counting nuclear, as Steyer does, she exceeds his 50 percent goal.”
Voters need to pay attention to the facts behind her call for “generating enough renewable energy to power every single home in America”—which is designed to make voters think they’ll be getting free (think Obama phones) solar panels. Even if it is possible to generate 33 percent of our electricity from renewables, The Guardian points out “not all of it will end up on homes.” However, “factories and office buildings don’t vote.” Her promise of half a billion solar panels is aimed at the bill-paying voter, but it actually benefits China as 7 in 10 solar panels are now made there.
Additionally, her plan “raises important questions about the ability of the grid—which is,” The Guardian reports, “built to carry power from continuously-burning large power stations rather than millions of diffuse and variable solar panels—to handle such high levels of variable electricity supply.” Clinton says her plan will require “a more open, efficient and resilient grid”—commonly called a “smart grid” that is computerized and, therefore, susceptible to hackers. It will also require spending that the Clinton campaign has flagged as a “priority.”
If you pay attention, you’ll realize that the priority of Clinton’s ambitious climate change plan is to further her ambitions by putting money in her pocket, as usual, while taking it from the average American. For once, I agree with James Hansen who calls her plan “just plain silly.”
The author of Energy Freedom, Marita Noon serves as the executive director for Energy Makes America Great Inc. and the companion educational organization, the Citizens’ Alliance for Responsible Energy (CARE). She hosts a weekly radio program: America’s Voice for Energy—which expands on the content of her weekly column. Follow her @EnergyRabbit.