Mike Rosen has a talk show on the right-wing propaganda cog called 850-KOA. Rosen is a loyal ideological foot-soldier in the extremist “free-market” religion. He had Myron Ebell of the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) on his show last week. The CEI is a “free-market” “think-tank”. Their work is decidedly slanted toward corporate America – corporations should be able to do and say anything and actual citizens of this great country should stand on the sidelines and be happy to receive whatever scraps are leftover that they happen to get along the way.
But the fact is that all of those renewables right now give us less than 1 percent of our electricity. […] That [doubling renewables] will raise our electricity prices a little bit. But if we actually went as some states — and I believe Colorado’s a good example, and California’s one — where they’ve passed a renewable mandate for electricity providers in their state so that a certain percentage by, you know, in five or 10 years has to come from things like windmills — if we all did that all across the country, we would raise our electricity rates tremendously. And we would also move manufacturing jobs out of this country.
Ebell’s statement is blatantly false on many levels and the second part of his comment proves it without looking up the facts. I’ll start with the bolded portion. Renewables accounted for 8.4% of total U.S. electricity generation in 2007, according to the U.S. Dept. of Energy. Ebell is purposefully trying to get Rosen’s listeners to think that renewables are a fringe technology that isn’t ready for wide-scale deployment. That would mean Obama and the Democrats are wasting everybody’s time and money chasing down things that won’t help the energy sector.
The second portion of this quote demonstrates the absolute falsity of that premise. If it were true that renewables accounted for less than 1% of the U.S. electricity generation, doubling it would mean it would account for less than 2% of electricity generation. How exactly is that minute increase supposed to “raise our electricity rates tremendously”? The answer is simple: it couldn’t and it wouldn’t. Renewable energy research, development and deployment costs are coming down. It will cost less and less per unit for each future solar and wind plant installed across the country.
What’s really going on here is Ebell’s Institute benefits from donations from the coal, oil and gas industries. They pay his salary. So of course he’s going to publicly relay information that would benefit the source of his salary. That’s a natural reaction. But it isn’t an ethical reaction. Because here’s the rub: his belief in the false “free-market” religion blinds him to the realities of the energy sector. If he was truly a supporter of the “free-market”, he would not support the corporate welfare that the fossil fuel industry receives from the government.
Oil, gas and coal corporations receive billions of taxpayer dollars every year for their operations. They’re excluded from paying for their use of public goods, even though that use exceeds that of the public’s. Renewable energy doesn’t receive anywhere near the level of financial support from the government that fossil fuel does. That leads to a nasty little fact that Ebell and others can’t stand to think about: if their corporate welfare dried up, renewables would be more than cost-competitive. Fossil fuels would actually find themselves on the other end of the currently-skewed playing field. They would possess all the disadvantages that the fossil fuel industry is trying to smother the renewable industry with.
No, Ebell and Rosen only believe in the “free-market” when it benefits their interests. They don’t favor the application of real free-market principles.
As a Colorado resident, I can say that our implementation of a renewable energy standard has been a good thing. The only reason my energy bills have fluctuated this year is due to excessive speculation of natural gas on commodity exchanges. I don’t hear Ebell and Rosen knocking the speculators’ greed and lack of ethics. That should be a big indicator of where their interests really lie.
h/t to Colorado Media Matters who flagged this.