10.09.2012 0

Romney Campaign Should Take Note of European Fatigue with Green Energy

By Kevin Mooney — Both Gov. Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama have expressed support for green energy initiatives throughout the campaign. But in their debate last Wednesday, Romney quickly pivoted away from the concept when he was asked to discuss tax policy. Obama has accused the former Massachusetts governor of favoring large tax breaks for oil companies and individual wealthy Americans at the expense of the middle class. In response, Romney seized upon the political favors Obama has extended to costly and ineffective green schemes that subtract away from genuine job opportunities for unemployed Americans.

In just one year, Obama “invested” $90 billion worth of breaks into the “green energy world,” Romney informed audience members. By comparison, Romney noted, the oil companies received about $2.8 billion in tax breaks each year and most of this is directed to small companies. Here is Romney’s complete statement.:

“Now, I like green energy as well, but that’s about 50 years’ worth of what oil and gas receives. And you say Exxon and Mobil. Actually, this $2.8 billion goes largely to small companies, to drilling operators and so forth. But, you know, if we get that tax rate from 35 percent down to 25 percent, why that $2.8 billion is on the table. Of course it’s on the table. That’s probably not going to survive you get that rate down to 25 percent. But don’t forget, you put $90 billion, like 50 years’ worth of breaks, into — into solar and wind, to Solyndra and Fisker and Tester and Ener1. I mean, I had a friend who said you don’t just pick the winners and losers, you pick the losers, all right? So this — this is not — this is not the kind of policy you want to have if you want to get America energy secure.”

This is the right touch of potent, forceful rhetoric, rooted in objective facts that will keep Romney on offense. But going forward he should reject the premise of green energy and green jobs. If they are losing their luster in Europe, it’s a sure sign they have very little political staying power in America. No less than European Union Energy Commissioner Günther Oettinger is now advising against new climate targets. He is also lobbying in favor of pro-industrial policies and against global warming initiatives.

“I strongly advise against more stringent targets after 2020”, Oettinger said in comments to the European Parliament. During the years 2007 to 2009, there had been too many “do-gooders” in the European Parliament and climate policy enthusiasm had become excessive,” he added. It was useless “to go to Greenland and hug polar bears.”

Back in Britain, a power regulator now warns of impending blackouts and higher electricity prices, compliments of stringent environmental regulations.

“Coal fired-generation is likely to close earlier than expected under EU environmental legislation and the risk of a shortfall in electricity is highest in 2015/16,” Ofgam says in a report.

This is a remarkable turnaround from just a few years ago and sure sign that the Romney campaign is in position to mount a vigorous assault against anti-energy policies.

Back in America, even former Vice-President Al Gore seems to be taking a walk away from green energy. The Street reports that Gore’s company has refrained from making any substantial investments in wind, solar and biomass. But he is investing in a natural gas pipeline.

“If these green energy projects were viable investments with the real potential for profitable returns that could power our nation, they would not need one cent of subsidies from taxpayers,” Americans for Limited Government Bill Wilson said. “It’s time to pull the plug on these subsidies, not to pander to the supporters of a failed idea.”

It would seem that Romney has been advised to offer up accolades to green energy. That may have been understandable going back a few years when the concept was political fashionable.  That no longer holds. Out of work Americans would like to hear more about the opportunity cost of the $90 billion that Obama is putting into green energy at expense of new job opportunities.

Kevin Mooney is a contributing editor to Americans for Limited Government. You can follow Kevin on Twitter at @KevinMooneyDC.

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