Gordon Tomb: Are ‘green’ agendas carrying governors to political cliffs?

Pennsylvania Gov. Josh Shapiro and Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon are riding the same “green energy” horse, trotting into the sunset — or toward a political cliff.

After voicing concerns, Shapiro is pressing ahead with Pennsylvania’s proposed participation in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, appealing a Commonwealth Court ruling barring the governor from unilateral action. He also has proposed expanding subsidies for “alternative energy” sources.

In the Cowboy State, Gordon advocates “decarbonizing the West” with a facility that would suck carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Challenged by state legislators to debate his proposal publicly, Gordon ultimately declined.

Both governors have drawn fire from political critics, mostly Republicans, who note that their states’ economies rely heavily on fossil fuel production to generate affordable electricity and create high-paying jobs.

Do Shapiro and Gordon believe they are saving the planet? Or do they consider the environmental lobby more powerful than the voters who would foot the bill for their “green” initiatives with higher energy prices and power outages?

The political headwinds of “green” energy policies aren’t restricted to Pennsylvania and Wyoming. While these governors are sticking to their agendas, politicians worldwide face career-threatening backlashes to climate activism.

As physics teaches us, every action has an equal and opposite reaction. Climate activists swung the political pendulum in one extreme direction. Now, the pendulum is heading toward its logical pivot: “Eco-friendly” governments losing to skeptical political forces.

In Germany, a constitutional court ruled that one of the “government’s main gimmicks for funding green projects” violates the law. The ruling forced the government to “level with voters about how much the net-zero energy transition will cost,” resulting in “a fiscal moment of truth that exploded into a political crisis.”

Calling climate change “a socialist lie,” self-described libertarian Javier Milei surprised some Argentinians by beating the incumbent president substantially, “fueling concerns that South America’s second-largest economy will backtrack on climate promises.” However, Argentinians’ concerns about raging inflation and economic stagnation trumped climate change.

In the Netherlands, the Party for Freedom won parliamentary elections, replacing a government that sought to kill off large segments of Dutch agriculture to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The winning party’s manifesto declares, “We have been made to fear climate change for decades. … We must stop being afraid.”

In addition to political fallout, economic troubles in green energy abound. Ford and General Motors have cut investments into poorly selling electric vehicles. Meanwhile, Siemens Energy, a wind turbine manufacturer, reports multibillion dollar losses.

Green projects are regularly falling by the wayside. Offshore wind has run into rough seas along America’s East Coast. A Danish company scrapped two New Jersey projects, and New England developers canceled three projects slated to provide power to Massachusetts and Connecticut.

Robert Bryce, author of Power Hungry: The Myths of “Green” Energy and the Real Fuels of the Future, follows the fortunes of “green” projects in the United States. His latest tally of canceled wind and solar projects is more than 600 since 2015.

“The march to ‘green’ energy, after years of uncontradicted hype, is now experiencing one reverse after another,” writes energy analyst Francis Menton.

Menton continues: “It turns out that there are limits to how much governments can achieve by trying to hide the costs of wind and solar energy through various subsidies and tax credits. At some point, after pocketing all the subsidies and credits, the developers still must deliver power to the grid at an affordable cost; and if they can’t, they will go broke.”

It is little wonder that so-called “green” technologies are having a tough go in the marketplace. A Bank of America analysis states, “Solar and wind look more expensive than almost any alternative on an unsubsidized basis. … [W]ind, biomass, and non-concentrated solar power may not be economically viable without perpetual subsidies.”

That puts taxpayers on the hook forever unless those imposing destructive policies face political consequences.

Leaders like Shapiro and Gordon might pay closer mind to certain realities, although we’ll stop short of predicting their futures. The impossibility of controlling Earth’s most complex system, the climate, may be equaled only by that of predicting the luck of a particular individual in the world’s most perplexing unnatural system: politics.

Gordon Tomb is a senior fellow with the Commonwealth Foundation, a Pennsylvania-based, free-market think tank, and senior advisor with the CO2 Coalition, Arlington, Virginia. He is primary editor of two books on climate change, including “A Very Convenient Warming: How modest warming and more CO2 are benefiting humanity.”

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