Friday, July 17, 2009

Boxer on energy policy

Sen. Barbara Boxer writes an opinion piece in the Huffington Post that attempts to justify federal backing for "clean energy" sources:
The carefully crafted Climate Security Jobs bill that we will present to the Senate, based on the Waxman-Markey bill, will jumpstart our economy, protect consumers, stop the ravages of unchecked global warming, and ensure that America will be the leading economic power in this century.

But don't just take it from me.
Thomas Friedman put it concisely in his most recent book, Hot, Flat and Crowded:

"...the ability to develop clean power and energy efficient technologies is going to become the defining measure of a country's economic standing, environmental health, energy security, and national security over the next 50 years."

John Doerr -- one of the nation's leading venture capitalists, who helped launch Google and -- has told us that putting a price on carbon will help spark the clean energy revolution. He predicted that the investment capital that will flow into clean energy will dwarf the amount invested in high-tech and biotech combined.

Doerr said, "Going green may be the largest economic opportunity of the 21st century. It is the mother of all markets."
So the federal government should promote these types of energy sources because Tom Friedman and John Doerr say that it would be a wise move? I'm underwhelmed. Let's keep in mind that Friedman has no experience or expertise in the energy field, having served as a journalist, columnist and author for his entire career.

Doerr meanwhile is described by wikipedia as a "high profile supporter of the Democratic Party in Silicon Valley" who "has also invested heavily in 'carbon trading' and is a big advocate of its use." Given that he stands to directly benefit from Waxman-Markey I'm not sure his support should be chalked up as terribly remarkable.

Boxer continues:
This bill is a jobs bill. By creating powerful incentives for clean energy, it will create millions of new jobs in America -- building wind turbines, installing solar panels on homes, and producing a new fleet of electric and hybrid vehicles.

Just look at a recent report by the Pew Charitable Trusts, which found that more than 10,000 new clean energy businesses were launched in California from 1998 to 2007. During that period, clean energy investments created more than 125,000 jobs and generated jobs 15 percent faster than the California economy as a whole.
This is a classic example of the broken window fallacy. Yes, supporting such legislation can help promote job creation in this sector. That, however, does not mean it is worthwhile. Far more important is the net impact across the broader economy as indicated by the unemployment rate -- an area where California is not performing terribly well:

Coincidentally, or not, Californians are also paying some of the highest energy costs in the country.

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