Green Energy My⁠t⁠hs

By: The James Madison Institute / 2010



By Dr. J. Robert McClure III, JMI President & CEO
Last month, Governor Crist called for a special session for the expressed purpose of putting an amendment on the November 2010 ballot to enshrine into our Constitution a ban on drilling in Florida waters in the Gulf of Mexico. Let’s be clear: there is already a ban of this kind in statute for Florida.Given this call by the Governor, let’s take his idea and his rhetoric to a logical conclusion. What if we turned to green energy today to meet our personal and economic needs for energy consumption? Could we do it? With the help of Robert Bryce from the Washington Post, who authored a recent article on the subject, let’s chase down several popular maxims related to “green energy” and check out the veracity of each.

Solar and wind are truly clean energies. Not true – as an example, both require large tracts of land including what the Nature Conservancy called “energy sprawl”…tens of thousands of high-voltage transmission lines required to carry electricity to far off places for the purposes of consumption.
Wind energy substantially reduces the dreaded carbon footprint. Not true – the wind doesn’t always blow so guess what electric companies use to offset the unpredictability of wind – gas and coal-fired generators. Plus, when the wind does blow, how is it trapped, contained and transported as a power source?
A green economy means green jobs. Not true – American companies must compete in the global market whether they produce turbines or tiddly winks.  You can bet that if there is a profit to be made, companies around the world will compete with America’s high corporate taxes and labor costs to gain an edge…and if we decide to subsidize or mandate these “jobs,” well then we’re losing money, not making it.
Going green will reduce our dependence on foreign sources as well as people who mean us harm. Not true – right now the oil market has numerous players in it…an opportunity for America to get the best deal at the lowest cost with the greatest efficiency. If we go green, China is the 500 pound gorilla in products and parts needed to retrofit our economy–they’ve got 90 percent of that market. Think they have our best interests at heart?
Electric cars are the future. Not true – Car companies haven’t figured out a way to mass produce these babies and make a profit. They are expensive to make, don’t go as fast or as far, and no one wants them. Plus, can you name the closest place in your neighborhood to plug in and recharge that battery…me neither.

The James Madison Institute’s position on energy has been the same as long as I’ve been here…let’s try all of the above.  Plus lower taxes, reduce regulations and release the entrepreneurial spirit. The market will provide the answer.