Kerry invokes Giffords to push windmill agenda

Christopher Horner Senior Fellow, Competitive Enterprise Institute
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I was just forwarded an email from calling for more federal intervention in the energy markets, further supporting politically deigned winners from the pool of losers that must petition for aid in order to exist. Which of course isn’t all that different from the old, First Way (post-FDR, that is). But it’s got a Blair-ite marketing panache that’s worth a try, anyway.

The email is noteworthy for a couple of reasons, including its acknowledgment that the renewable energy mandate you will soon hear very much about, as the next “other way to skin the cat” of energy rationing, is so far as your wallet is concerned the same as the very cap-and-trade scheme for which it is Plan B:

“China is about to put a price on carbon. The UK and EU are already there. So how can the U.S. begin to compete for the $2 trillion clean energy market? …We can help do that by establishing a national clean energy standard.”

Windmill mandate equals cap and trade. According to its champions. Got it.

More eye-catching was the whole $2 trillion thing, especially since on the same day, per Greenwire (subscription required), Sen. John Kerry continued his silly (very silly) advocacy of this agenda — if in less humorous fashion, seeking to take advantage of tragedy for political aims: “Infrastructure, clean energy can unite Congress after Tucson tragedy — Kerry” (noting that, hey, Rep. Giffords was really big on renewable energy supports, so…).

He “call[ed] for renewed support for investment in the energy economy — especially ‘green energy’ — where the United States, he said, is losing its competitive edge in a $6 trillion market to the rest of the world and China in particular.”

Is Sen. Kerry saying, as this reporter implies, that the renewable energy market is $6 trillion? Exaggeration in support of the green agenda? Quelle horreur, Sen. Kerry!

But, no. And yes. Kerry’s prepared remarks here say only that the “energy” market overall, including the real kind, is $6 trillion. But he does still manage to misstate the matter of “green energy” (broadly defined, incidentally, including even dams) as being “projected at [sic] $2.3 trillion in 2020.”

First, that would mean there surely isn’t a $2 trillion market today. Which is true, and the claim that it is $2 trillion is not. But, second, no, the “green energy” market isn’t “projected” to be that large in 2020 either.

Sen. Kerry’s claim is unsourced but, barring a remarkable coincidence, surely came from this recent, self-serving puffery by a group that advocates for the global warming agenda, the Pew Environment Group: “Global Clean Power Sector Could Attract $2.3 Trillion by 2020.” Yes, many things could happen.

Pew merely conjured the “opportunity”…if you adopt our demanded, massively increased restraints on energy sources that work and massive spikes in supports for those that don’t. Kerry’s source is an advocacy document saying, if you do what I want, this is what could happen. But it doesn’t say what he says it does.

Quickly reviewing the bidding of today’s surely coincidental escalation of the campaign for more wealth transfers to political icons/technological losers reveals that Pew is less outlandish than Kerry, who is less outlandish than Third Way. This appears to just be a case of one party making a puffed-up hypothetical claim of a possible future world and another party trumping it as a projection of where things will be, which is then further trumped up by another.

The original sin — the puffery of If you do X, Y could happen! — is what the wind and solar industries have survived upon for decades and decades. Even though Y — wind (let alone the hopeless solar) as a commercially viable energy source in the absence of taxpayer wealth transfers — continues to be just around the corner, as it will always be just a few decades around the corner, just as it has been for…are you ready for this?…more than a century.

That’s right. Wind power, we are told, still needs massive per-unit subsidies because it is “nascent.” Now, being nascent does not in fact mean that you need subsidies, so the implication is rather intellectually insulting. But they do have a point: wind-powered electricity was only first commercialized back in ’91. 1891! “Dinosaur” coal-fired electricity had a head start of a whole nine years.

Anyhow, the Pew projection upon which Sen. Kerry apparently relies, upon scrutiny, also makes clear there’s no $2 trillion renewable energy market now, as even another decade of the extant, breakneck pace of lavishing the stuff with mandates, preferences and taxpayer billions would just grow it to $1.7 trillion by 2020. So Sen. Kerry, Third Way and Pew have a lot to straighten out amongst themselves.

But look, we’re talking about windmills and solar panels, longstanding flops that are so hopeless that they are styled by the president as “new technology.” Chuckle. And when that’s the case, people know right off the bat you’re just saying stuff, anyway.

Chris Horner is a senior fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute.