“Post-Partisan Power”: blueprint or pipedream?
Report on energy policy omits smart grid
I promised readers a closer look at the recent report, “Post-Partisan Power: How a Limited and Direct Approach to Energy Innovation Can Deliver Clean, Cheap Energy, Economic Productivity and National Prosperity.”
Okay, you’re probably thinking what I’m thinking: it’s Christmas time and Santa Claus must be just around the corner. How else to explain such a sprawling and unlikely promise?
But let’s review the report’s main points.
First off, “post-partisan” anything is unlikely to visit Earth anytime soon. We’ve seen what that notion has reaped for President Obama. Still, the notion that the two major parties can agree on anything whatsoever is appealing and, of course, much like a second marriage: the triumph of hope over experience.
The report, an effort by well-known personalities on the left and right, now residing at partisan think tanks, attempts to deliver some tough talk.
“For the better part of two decades, much of the right has speculated darkly about global warming as a United Nations-inspired conspiracy to destroy American sovereignty, all while passing off chants of ‘drill, baby, drill’ as real energy policy. During the same period, much of the left has oscillated incoherently between exhortations that avoiding the end of the world demands shared sacrifice, and contradictory assertions that today’s renewable energy and efficiency technologies can eliminate fossil fuels at no significant cost. All the while, America’s dependence on fossil fuels continues unabated and political gridlock deepens, preventing real progress towards a safer, cleaner, more secure energy system.”
That language might be bracing if it didn’t depend on a total caricature of both sides.
Liberals, the authors suggest, will have to acknowledge that renewable energy technologies are too expensive and difficult to scale to meet the energy needs of the nation. Cap-and-trade and a “mess” of subsidies aren’t going to do it, either. And nuclear power is “far cleaner and safer than most liberals imagine.” (I’m down with that.)
Conservatives, for their part, must acknowledge that fossil fuels have serious health, safety and security consequences. (That should be easy, too.)
The government should have a limited, focused role on driving down the cost of clean energy technologies through research and development and procurement processes, the authors say. (Whoa, a government-driven solution? The boat is starting to rock.)
“We propose across-the-board energy subsidy reform,” the authors propose, without noting that the American electorate doesn’t generally “get” how energy prices would skyrocket accordingly and, that without income and payroll tax reform (read: reductions), this would violently exacerbate present economic conditions.
Further, the authors argue that “the innovation system we propose builds on the successes of the military procurement process to purchase and prove advanced energy systems while providing competitive markets for emerging energy technologies.” The report goes on to encourage “energy discovery-innovation institutes,” the darling of one of the authors.
How to pay for it? Cut existing energy subsidies, charge new royalties for oil production, impose “small surcharges” for oil imports and electricity sales and a “very low” carbon price.
“While each of these mechanisms may bother some on both the left and right, all should agree that exacerbating the national debt is unwise.Revenues must be found in order to make these productive investments, which have long-term potential to revitalize the economy.”
Well, we can safely store this report on the shelf. First, anyone even vaguely familiar with the military procurement process over the past four decades will LOL on this suggestion. Is there a more corrupt system in the United States, with the revolving door between procurement officers and industry? Is one single American willing to put our energy future into the hands of the military? What about the vaunted “free market”? And how about those “small surcharges” and a “very low” price on carbon? Those are taxes. Does anyone at this late date imagine that, no matter the benefit, the foaming anti-tax crowd is going to approve of paying for what you get? Even if the country depended on it?
As is always the case, proposed solutions, wrapped in fake tough talk, are created in antiseptic environs such as the Brookings Institution and the American Enterprise Institute, which along with the newborn “Breakthrough Institute” promulgated this report.
I realize I’m using this report as a piñata, but if there’s one thing I can’t stand, it’s pasting a “win-win” headline on a load of you know what. The fact is, either side is going to have to seize power and drive its agenda home to make any dent in a forward direction. And it’s only going to be through the good, old American way of lurching from right to left, left to right that we’ll stumble towards progress. Anyone who doubts that is free to join the ostriches.
Intelligent Utility Daily