Creating artificial scarcity in energy

Today’s WSJ has a good op-ed on how extreme environmentalism hurts the poor.  Greens generally don’t want to talk about the trade-offs involved, it’s a conspiracy of physicsWind farms kill birds (including endangered species), solar farms destroy habitats for multiple species, carbon taxes are extremely regressive.  So we kill eagles, destroy wildlife, gouge the poor… for what exactly?

From Carbon Income Inequality:

As an alternative to a carbon tax, some states will force-feed wind, solar and other renewables that are both more expensive and less reliable than fossil fuels. Consumers may not realize how these regulations will affect their daily lives. Groups like the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Brookings Institution support a policy known as “direct load control” that would manage when you are allowed to run the air conditioner or washing machine.

The EPA claims to be targeting “polluters,” but the government is essentially creating an artificial scarcity in carbon energy. Scarcities mean higher prices, which will hit the poor far harder than they will the anticarbon crusaders who live in Pacific Heights. The lowest 10% of earners pay three times as much as a share of their income for electricity compared to the middle class. If you want more inequality, this is an ideal way to ensure it.

The EPA plan will also redistribute income from economically successful states to those that have already needlessly raised their energy costs. The New England and California cap-and-trade programs will get a boost, while the new rule punishes the regions that rely most on fossil fuels and manufacturing: the South, Ohio River Valley and mid-Atlantic. Think of it as a [wealth] transfer from Austin to Sacramento

The irony is that all the damage will do nothing for climate change. Based on the EPA’s own carbon accounting, shutting down every coal-fired power plant tomorrow and replacing them with zero-carbon sources would reduce the Earth’s temperature by about one-twentieth of a degree Fahrenheit in a hundred years

Oh, and one more thing:  it undermines democracy.

The 645-page rule is targeted at the 1,000 or so U.S. fossil fuel power plants, but it more or less orders states to adopt cap and trade or a carbon tax. A Democratic Congress debated and rejected this anticarbon program in 2010, and there isn’t a chance it could get 50 Senate votes now…

In the American system, legislative inaction does not create a vacuum that the executive is entitled to fill. Almost all economic and human activity has some carbon cost, and the huge indirect tax and wealth redistribution scheme that the EPA is imposing by fiat will profoundly touch every American. Voters should at least have a say and know the price they will pay before ceding so much power to regulators.

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