News Story

"Green Energy" Subsidy Factory — not just Cap & Trade — the Real Test for GOP Energy Chair

In her weekly Wall Street Journal column, Kim Strassel offers some benchmarks for who congressional Republicans’ should choose to be the next House Energy and Commerce Committee chair. Michigan Congressman Fred Upton is one of the candidates, and — as described in the other day's Michigan Capitol Confidential — this has some on the right fuming.

Strassel characterizes support for more oil drilling, coal mining and “root-and-branch” nuclear reform, plus opposition to cap-and-trade and EPA-imposed carbon restrictions, as “baseline” requirements for the new chair, not “value-added.” That is, none of the contenders should get any extra-credit for being on the right side of those issues.

Instead, the “value add-on” is support for “stepping back a federal energy apparatus that is flushing taxpayer dollars down ethanol, wind and battery projects while crowding out cheaper fuels and killing jobs,” and represents “Soviet central planning under the guise of ‘investing’ in America's future.”

After being blown away by eight years of “green jobs” policies from Gov. Jennifer Granholm, this is something Michigan has some experience with (see “Cost to Revive Economy With Battery Plant Subsidies: $5 Trillion”).

In Stassel’s view, failure to articulate an alternative to this Soviet approach are checkmarks against Upton and two other congressmen under consideration for the Energy chair. Referring to Republicans in general she writes: “Rather than sell a principled energy position, they've found it easier to adopt ‘all of the above.’ They're for oil drilling and also for government–funded renewable energy. The latter is at odds with everything they claim to believe—smaller government, freer markets—but it's green’."

Indeed, rolling back the “subsidy factory” will be one of the tests for whether Republicans in Washington and Lansing really have “learned their lesson.” It’s hard to be optimistic  — again for reasons that Michigan has seen time and again, such as these bipartisan votes by our legislature to transfer hundreds of millions of dollars from Michigan families and existing businesses to a handful of highly speculative electric car battery assembly plants (most of the components are made overseas).

As Strassel puts it, “plenty of Republicans helped create—and love—this subsidy factory. It keeps their corn farmers and wind-turbine producers in business. The grants will prove more valuable now that earmarks are gone. There's a reason so many Republicans list an energy bill as a top item on which to cooperate with Mr. Obama.”

Michigan Capitol Confidential is the news source produced by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Michigan Capitol Confidential reports with a free-market news perspective.