Green Energy Subsidies Hurt the Economy

Renewable energy technology has a long way to go before it is viable, and the government should leave the problem up to the private sector to find a solution. Green energy subsidies are bad in practice and in principle, and they should be cut entirely.

These subsidies are supposed to create jobs in the energy industry, but they fail to do so. In fact, despite the high level of government subsidy, green technology jobs make up merely 2% of employment nationwide. The United States is allocating a lot resources to this sector, and it's seeing few results. Even Vice President Joe Biden's former economic advisor, Jared Bernstein, admitted that green energy is not a labor-intensive industry.

These subsidies also mean that people are paying more for their energy through higher taxes. This means that they have less money to save or invest on their own.

Not only do green energy subsidies turn out to be giant failures that waste tax, they're fundamentally wrong too. The government should not be in the business of picking certain industries over others, or using the tax code to micromanage the economy. As we saw earlier with the Chevy Volt boondoggle, which I've discussed before on PolicyMic, government officials do not have enough knowledge about the economy to make predictions about the future or to anticipate what consumers will demand.

Plus, when the government intervenes, it distorts the profit incentive that would otherwise give people an incentive to innovate in this industry.

Energy subsidies are key part of the Obama administration's war on fossil fuels. This is no secret — since Obama has been elected, the  EPA have effectively banned new coal-fired power, and enacted rules to harm existing coal plants. This includes the Utility MACT rule, which is the most expensive regulation that the the federal government has enacted to date, at $11 billion per year.

American taxpayers deserve a government that puts them first — not the interests of lobbyists and special interests. Ending energy subsidies would be a step in the right direction. 

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Christine Harbin

Christine Harbin considers widespread economic freedom to be one of the most important goals for sound public policy. She holds undergraduate degrees in economics, mathematics, and French from the University of Wisconsin–Madison, and an MBA from the University of Wisconsin–Eau Claire.

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