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Walter Russell Mead: Yet Another Glorious Green Policy Accomplishment

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Walter Russell Mead, Via Meadia

The green movement today is often an alliance between people who are selling and promoting uneconomic ‘alternative’ energy schemes and greens who are willing to front for them. It’s an attempt to legislate profit for crony capitalists

wind turbine

RWE—one of the UK’s biggest power utilities—recently announced that the country’s push into renewable energy sources is going to mean electricity bills nearly 20 percent higher for its customers. This news comes shortly after the company was given permission by the UK government to build the Triton Knoll Offshore Wind Farm, which with with a maximum generating capacity of a whopping 1.2 gigawatts would measure in as the world’s largest. But green energy comes at a premium, the FT reports:

[T]here is mounting concern in the power industry that the costs of [green energy] policies, combined with other measures such as the carbon floor price and big subsidies for renewable energy, will be much higher than government estimates and will have a sizeable impact on what average consumers pay for their gas and electricity.

When they are trying to sell green policies, environmentalists spew statistics about growth and efficiency. But when those policies are put into place, costs go up, jobs wither, and living standards go down. The green movement could use better leadership, and would do well to adopt smarter, more practical ideas. Promoting telework and beefing up infostructure—both policies that would decrease the need to physically move things around, thereby reducing emissions—would be two good places to start. Improving the efficiency of appliances and machines is another promising avenue.

Beyond that, more research into green tech is the best way to support basic research. The green movement today is often an alliance between people who are selling and promoting uneconomic ‘alternative’ energy schemes and greens who are willing to front for them. It’s an attempt to legislate profit for crony capitalists, green lipstick on a herd of pigs like ethanol and wind turbines.

With better tech, alternative energy can make its way on the legitimate marketplace. Until then, green policy will produce white elephant after white elephant, and public support for this nonsense will inevitably fade as the bills come due.

Via Media, 21 July 2013