Harry brings home the green bacon
Four-term Oregon governor John Kitzhaber was forced to resign Valentine’s Day in a juicy scandal involving influence peddling by his fiancee, Sylvia Hayes. She is a green energy consultant who proclaimed herself Oregon’s first lady and then, without actually holding any public office, began commandeering state resources to implement the green energy projects she was paid to promote.
Kitzhaber was a better-than-average public servant, who fell from power in a tawdry spectacle that some call a “Greek tragedy.” What is interesting is how liberals believe using state power to push green energy is such a great idea, and how time after time the corruption that inevitably is bound up with state power proves the opposite. Why do many on the left believe the end justifies the means, that using conservative means (state police power) to achieve liberal goals is justified?
When legislators mandate a certain percentage of power be produced from renewables by a certain time, they are setting themselves up for both failure and scandal. Nevada’s green energy scandals usually start with Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid. When Reid wasn’t lecturing us on the evils of legalized prostitution, he used his considerable power to funnel over $1.3 billion in federal subsidies for green energy to Nevada. Reid claims it is about creating jobs. The jobs actually delivered—under 300 permanent jobs—cost Nevada taxpayers $4.6 million per job. Politicians love to talk about jobs, but jobs are not the measure of economic progress.
Jobs are a cost, not a benefit. The end result should be production for consumption, with the lowest possible cost and the highest benefit for willing consumers. When government is involved, taxpayers get the highest costs and the fewest benefits. Reid’s pet alternative energy beneficiaries like ENN Mojave Energy, Nevada Geothermal and bankrupt Amonix Solar, have benefited from sweetheart deals engineered by Reid and his son Rory while plundering Nevada tax and energy ratepayers. Other green boondoggles like Ormat Nevada and the Ivanpah solar farm dot Nevada’s economic landscape like the sun-bleached bones of dead coyotes.
Sen. Reid famously believes the Koch Brothers are evil incarnate because they use their oil and chemical billions to benefit causes he dislikes, but liberals have their own billionaires who use their money to influence the political process for personal gain disguised as political causes. Billionaire Warren Buffet’s takeover of NV Energy was accompanied by a sweetheart deal that left ratepayers on the hook for the conversion from coal to natural gas. The Nevada Public Utility Commission said Nevada Energy’s phoney projection that rates would rise no more that 3 percent over 10 years was not worth the paper it was printed on. Expect Buffet’s new toy to raise its rates at least 10 percent, and probably much more.
Billionaire “former” hedge fund manager and friend of Reid Tom Steyer spent $57 million to elect Democrats in 2014 with ads proclaiming climate change is a dangerous reality. Now record-setting freezing temperatures and snow in the eastern half of the country say the voters were right to elect Republicans instead. While CO2 levels are rising, solar activity is declining, and we may be facing a little ice age. Reid hasn’t yet figured out how he can profit from Congress mandating more sunspots. Steyer made many of his billions on investments in coal in Asia but now that he’s got green religion and is invested in solar energy, his global warming alarmism would generate more profits if only voters would buy into it.
Why not get politicians out of energy and finally let the markets work?