The Economic Report of the President came out late last night. Among other things, it talked up wind and solar energy. Ken Haapala, Executive Vice President of the Science and Environmental Policy Project, comments:
The ERP promotes the development of solar and wind, but has significant omissions:
* The ERP omits any plan for sensible development of the huge oil resources in the United States and its off-shore boundaries.
* It omits stating imported oil is principally used as a transportation fuel – less than one percent is used to generate electricity. Generating electricity from solar or wind does not significantly reduce the need for transportation fuels.
* It omits any plan for promoting the construction of modern nuclear power plants to include the recycling of nuclear fuel.
* It omits any discussion of the poor 120-year economic history of wind-generated electricity – erratic wind power was always rejected by consumers demanding reliable, affordable electricity.
* It omits the staggering investments China is making in traditional sources for generating electricity. The EPR emphasizes China’s development of solar and wind but ignores massive investments in nuclear, coal, and hydro. This omission leads to the false assertion that the US is in a race with China for wind and solar power.
* It omits any rigorous economic discussion of the difference between government expenditures and government investment. Expenditures are exactly that, they may create jobs and prosperity for a few, but not for the general public. Successful investments create general prosperity yielding far more to the general public than the cost. Replacing coal plants which reliably generate affordable electricity with wind farms or solar plants that unreliably generate more expensive electricity is an expenditure, not an investment. Such an action is no more an investment than replacing the reliable family car with an exotic, expensive, high-maintenance sports car. It may create jobs for some but at the expense of the family.
* It omits any discussion of an existing technology that can economically store electricity on an industrial scale. Without one, spending heavily on solar or wind is speculation.
In short, the EPR does not provide a path to a prosperous energy future, but a path to a boxed canyon that will make the US uncompetitive in the world markets.
If we are lucky–that is, if the its other failings don’t create worse disasters–this could be the enduring image of the Obama administration:
UPDATE: One more thing. President Obama, during the 2008 campaign, said that energy costs would “skyrocket” if he became President and his policies were implemented. Does this constitute “skyrocketing”?