Climate: The (Flabby) Arms of Krupp

The Wall Street Journal editorial page this morning suggests that individual states should simply refuse to cooperate with Obama’s “Clean Power Plan” finalized on Monday. But across the page from their feisty editorial is an op-ed article singing a “hosanna we’re saved!” hymn about the wonderfulness of the climate plan from Fred Krupp, president of the Environmental Defense Fund.

There are a large number of snarky online comments on why the Journal would print such drivel in its otherwise sensible pages, but I think the critics are looking at this wrong. The worst thing the Journal could do to Krupp is put his complete intellectual bankruptcy on full display. The piece is downright embarrassing.

The online headline is “A Clean Energy Breakthrough,” which is the first sign of that the Journal is pulling our leg, since the Obama plan does nothing in the way of producing genuine technological progress in low- or non-carbon energy supplies. There’s no breakthrough here; just a new regulatory scheme that will help line the pockets of otherwise uncompetitive and unprofitable wind and solar power purveyors.

Now, before getting into some samples of Krupp’s Krud, remember this salient fact: by the EPA’s own calculation, full implementation of the Clean Power Plan will avert 0.018 degrees C of warming by the year 2100. Yes—that’s right: two one-hundreths of a degree. Whoa—that’s some kind of breakthrough indeed!

With that backdrop in mind, a few samples to see what kind of intellectual firepower Krupp brings to the field:

[C]limate change has put us in the race of our lives—and the countries that move the fastest toward clean energy will be the most competitive, create the most jobs and have the healthiest air. It’s a race to the top, and the Clean Power Plan gives the U.S. a better chance of winning.

Question: Can anyone name a single industry, anywhere—ever, that said: “Gee, federal government, please come regulate us to make us more profitable. We couldn’t possibly figure it out on our own.”

Speaking of jobs, there’s this:

There is positive data on the jobs front, too. Clean energy now delivers three times as many jobs per dollar invested as fossil-fuel investments.

This is the most stunning fragment of economic illiteracy in the piece, as it explicitly concedes that costs for “clean” energy are higher than for hydrocarbons, and that clean energy labor productivity is much lower than hydrocarbons. Makes you wonder exactly which kind of energy should be called “fossil” energy. Would you rather pay three people to get a job done, or one person to get the same job done? If you pay just one person, what’s his comparative wage rate likely to be compared to the three people? I assume that Krupp thinks McDonald’s is superior to Morton’s because $1 million spent to open and operate a McDonald’s will create four to five times as many jobs as $1 million spent to open and operate a Morton’s. (There are data on this point, in fact.) The fact that it takes more jobs for the same investment in “clean” energy is evidence for how inefficient it is.


Driving down carbon emissions will ramp up the energy transformation that is already happening across America. What once seemed exotic—electric cars, highly efficient appliances, competitively priced clean energy—is becoming commonplace. In 2014, the clean-energy market in the U.S. expanded by 14%, to almost $200 billion.

As I pointed out in my post on the CPP yesterday, if all kinds of good things are happening in energy already, why do we need the CPP in the first place? Of course, Krupp knows but obfuscates here that a lot of the trends he likes are occurring through coercion, mandates, and subsidies. Incidentally, I’m sure Krupp has upgraded from a Prius—his car of a few years ago—to a Tesla. Easy to do when your salary as head of EDF is $540,000. That kind of scratch will buy a lot of Krupp’s Kool Aid.

And it bears repeating: we’re going to go with this massive regulatory scheme to avert  two one-hundreths of a degree of warming 85 years from now.

Stay tuned: lots more coming on the CPP later this week.