Thursday, October 22, 2009

The Importance of Green Freedom

With the headlong rush to conquer problems raised by fossil fuels: bans on drilling, lengthy transportation issues, regulatory restrictions, and diminishing existing supplies, we have observed some unusual occurrences in the development of viable alternatives. With massive government subsidies available, we find the green fuel industry burgeoning. The pioneering states have had varied success.

Normally, we would look to California to capitalize on natural resources to enhance their energy capacity. Back in the seventies I vividly recall my son, the newly named manager of a chain store in Sacramento, calling to brag that his large operation had the lowest electric costs of any of the many chain stores in the entire system. As a manager in one of the other stores I took particular interest. He explained it was the result of an efficient nuclear power generating facility which was hugely cost effective. As the third place cost component, after lease and payroll, it was a significant factor in the computation of year end bonuses.

That was then and this is now. Long ago, California was a totally different world. They have implemented onerous restrictions, not only on further nuclear development, but also regulatory oversight on any new eco-friendly technology. At about the same time they were host to a pioneering wind farm which held great promise for the future due to natural prevailing wind sources. Upon the deaths of unwary species of birds, the environmentalists backed further and further regulation upon operating hours, turbine speeds and even closing down some operations.

Many other attempts to harness the natural energy sources have wound up the victims of the same fate. The huge deserts were seen as a natural site for arrays of energy absorbing solar panels. But no; the renewable energy backers provided their own opposition. The protection of desert rats, bugs, and a turtle or two became a higher priority than renewables. Even the placement of transmission lines became an impediment to progress. As a consequence, another layer of regulatory bans was put in place. Even geo-thermal projects came under the eco-gun to complete the picture.

So who then is the number one producer of renewable energy? Texas! Even more amazing is the number two spot in wind power—Iowa! In Texas, we find a location long absorbed by energy production so it should not come as any real surprise if you think about it. But Iowa in the number two spot? That does not include figures to include corn production for ethanol. That would be easily understood. I spent my boyhood in Iowa and find the thought astonishing.

As we look for reasons for these placings, it eventually comes down to over-regulation vs. the freeing of markets. Each layer of bureaucratic interference serves little purpose other than to block the wind and cloud the solar panels. The paradox lies in the acknowledgment that the principle promoters of these alternatives are the same people who advocate not implementing them. In a relatively regulatory free atmosphere provided by historical supremacy in the generation of energy we find Texas in the lead.

The exploits of Texas “wild-catters” moving from “hole” to “hole” in search of black gold has left a legacy of non-interference by local government. You can’t tax the profits from a dry hole. You can take the tax levy on a successful operation and build a new local school house or a civic center. With community backing of entrepreneurship everyone shares some of the bounty.

By allowing the narrowly focused self-interest of a few dedicated greenies to shape their energy policy, states influenced excessively by them are doomed to unending problems. It does not serve the “general welfare” to place ever more restrictive covenants in place to bar further development of valuable resources. From a federal prospective, an ever enlarging energy base will eventually call for lessening the huge subsidies now allocated for their development. While that would be disastrous for Al Gore’s stock portfolio it would be a boon for the nation and its liberty loving people.

In His abiding love,

Cecil Moon

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