Saturday, July 23, 2022

OCPA column: Environmental policy folly is no laughing matter

Environmental policy folly is no laughing matter
by Jonathan Small

In states across the country and nations across the globe, politicians’ embrace of a “Green New Deal” style of environmental policy has often been a comedy of errors. But the real-world results are no laughing matter.

The problem is appearing even in conservative states like Texas, where over-reliance on “green” wind power has created numerous problems. About 30 percent of Texas’ electricity is generated by wind power. That’s all well and good—unless the wind isn’t blowing, which is often the case during hot spells.

The growth of wind-power production in Texas has coincided with the shuttering of some older fossil-fuel plants and a significant increase in population and demand for power. When wind power production declines, it has ripple effects throughout the state. The remaining power plants can’t compensate for the loss of wind power.

Thus, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas recently warned citizens they could face rolling blackouts. Some manufacturers have even reportedly curtailed production due to the rising cost of electricity (which has surged 70 percent since last year).

Elsewhere, the nation of Sri Lanka has fallen into chaos due to its governmental embrace of supposed climate-change mitigation by transitioning the nation’s agriculture industry to organic farming.

That shift earned praise from all the “right” people. Sri Lanka was given an Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) score of 98, while the United States’ score was just 51. Supposedly, the U.S. needed to emulate Sri Lanka, not the other way around.

But Sri Lankans have learned you can’t eat ESG scores as domestic rice production has dropped more than 50 percent and rice prices increased more than 80 percent. U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., put it plainly when he noted that Sri Lanka is experiencing “a government-created famine reminiscent of Mao.”

Americans paying high prices at the pump are getting a glimpse of a similar future. In May, in response to a question about surging gas prices, President Biden declared that “we’re going through an incredible transition,” an apparent reference to his goal of achieving a net-zero emissions economy by 2050. 

The problem with Biden’s plan is it relies, in part, on mass transition to electric cars most people can’t afford. And there’s little infrastructure in place, such as charging stations, for those cars. And increased use of electric cars means significantly increased demand for electricity, which is already constrained in many places.

But other than that …

And, although these “green” policies have generated widespread hardship, they’ve done little or nothing to alter alleged climate change.

Even in Oklahoma, state lawmakers previously supported wind-power incentives, and giant turbines are now common. But our lawmakers wisely decided to cap those incentives. The wisdom of that decision is becoming clearer every day.

Jonathan Small serves as president of the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs.


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