Beware of “Conservative” Groups Pushing For Renewable Energy and Carbon Taxes

Every year, millions of dollars are spent propping up astroturf groups that pretend to be conservative that push for decidedly unconservative policies including taxing carbon dioxide emissions and advocating for renewable energy. This happens both on the national level, and in states around the country.

According to an article in the Daily Caller:

“Wealthy charitable foundations spent $10 million on an effort that included handing money to conservative and libertarian think tanks and grassroots organizations to promote “a stable climate” and “a clean energy future” among other environmental issues, The Daily Caller News Foundation has found.”

“For example, two foundations that promote liberal energy policies handed nearly $4.2 million to the Christian Coalition to sway its conservative, religious membership of policies typically associated with liberals and environmentalists, according to grant information from tax filings from 2008 to 2016.”

Unfortunately, liberals see church groups as a means of getting groups that have traditionally voted for conservatives to change sides and vote for more subsidy-laden renewable energy. Please, don’t be fooled by this rouse.

The plot thickens, as several so-called “conservative groups,” have received truck-loads of cash from liberal donors:

“Environmental foundations have funded faux-conservative groups for many years to make it seem like their radical climate ideology has a broader consensus than it really does,” Institute for Energy Research (IER) President Tom Pyle told TheDCNF.”

“IER’s database also shows groups like the R Street Institute and Niskanen Center, known for their efforts to promote a carbon tax, received $2.1 million and $550,000, respectively, from liberal foundations, according to Big Green Inc.’s data.”

This is also happening in Minnesota, as some groups are pushing for energy policies that are “Cleaner and Cheaper” and “All of the Above.” While these probably make good bumper stickers, they are not serious energy policy.

As I’ve shown many times before, electricity prices in Minnesota have skyrocketed since 2007, when we enacted our renewable energy mandates. Minnesota’s electricity prices have increased 26 percent faster than the national average since 2007, and this is largely because we’ve spent $15 billion on wind turbines and additional transmission lines needed to generate the electricity generated by them.

If it is not cheap, is wind worth really cleaner? I would argue it is not.

The graph below shows air pollution data from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. It shows air quality in Minnesota already meets the most strict air quality standards established by the state to protect even the most vulnerable populations like the elderly and children. The air got cleaner primarily because pollution scrubbers were installed on coal-fired power plants and using natural gas, not because wind is a clean, cheap panacea.

The reason wind makes electricity so expensive is because it is incredibly unreliable because it depends on the weather. Sometimes the wind is generating a lot of electricity, but sometimes it produces zero electricity. This huge variability simply does not exist with coal, natural gas, or nuclear plants. Sure, these plants can have breakdowns, but unlike wind power, these outages are bugs, not features inherent to the design.

This increases costs because people are unwilling to only have electricity when the wind is blowing, so we must build the system to be ready to produce enough electricity for everyone when the wind output is zero. This means we still need enough coal or natural gas capacity to come online when needed. Paying for the upkeep and infrastructure on both kinds of plants is incredibly expensive.

Imagine you had a very reliable gas-powered car, but then you had to buy an electric car that only worked when the wind was blowing or the sun was shining. You can drive the electric car for “free” when the wind is blowing or the sun is shining, but it isn’t really free.

Just because you drove the electric car to work and are not burning gasoline, you still have to pay your car payment, with interest, on the gas-powered car, you still have to pay the insurance, registration, pay for mechanical breakdowns and the other fixed costs that go into driving a car. These fixed costs generally make up 80 percent of the cost of driving a car.

In addition to these expenses, you are now paying a car payment, with interest, on the electric car, the registration, insurance on maintenance costs, even if the fuel is “free.” You can’t get rid of your gas powered car because you need it to get to work on cloudy and windless days, so now you’re paying twice for a car, even though you can only drive one car at a time.

This is why renewable energy is incredibly expensive, and it also shows why “All of the Above” doesn’t make sense. We need all of the reliable energy, not renewable energy mandates that force Minnesotans to pay more for electricity.