Obama and the European energy example

Max Schultz:

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Obama is absolutely right that we can learn a lot from the European approach to energy. But he is dead wrong on what those lessons are. We should study what the Europeans are doing with regard to energy and the environment, and then generally do the opposite. Sadly, indications are that the Obama administration will ignore the accumulated evidence of Europe's energy failings and instead emulate some of the worst aspects of policies across the pond.

Take Obama's fabled green jobs plan, which paradoxically suggests there is economic benefit to switching away from inexpensive carbon-based fuels and toward far pricier renewable energy technologies. Throughout last year's campaign, Obama pledged he would spend $150 billion on green technologies to create "five million new jobs that pay well and can't ever be outsourced."

Turns out there really is a downside to forcing the marketplace to shift to energy sources that are less economical than those currently used. Spain, which instituted a green jobs program a decade ago, found this out the hard way. A study by researchers at King Juan Carlos University found that 2.2 jobs were destroyed for every green job created through government mechanisms, and those green jobs are rarely permanent. Obama has touted the Spanish experience as a model for the United States, but the study's authors deem those policies "terribly economically counterproductive." Simply put, they wrote, "the Spanish/EU-style ‘green jobs' agenda now being promoted in the U.S. in fact destroys jobs." The study has been condemned by former President Bill Clinton and left-wing groups such as the Center for American Progress, a sign that its findings have touched a nerve in the United States.

Far worse is Obama's proposal to institute a cap-and-trade regime to lower carbon dioxide emissions similar to the one European nations implemented earlier this decade. However commendable the goal may be, the evidence is clear that cap-and-trade is a monumental failure.

Emissions have soared in most industrialized European nations during the plan's first phase, in most cases more than in the United States during the same period. Moreover, cap-and-trade has led to substantial increases in electricity bills for European consumers, hindering economic growth.

Only recently have emissions in European nations begun to drop. But that is hardly proof that cap-and-trade works. A global economic meltdown is responsible for falling emissions all over the planet, including in the United States, where no such system for curbing emissions yet exists. What the recent trends show is that there is a rough correlation between CO2 emissions and economic growth. Perhaps the only way to dramatically cut greenhouse gas emissions, it seems, is to put the brakes on prosperity.

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It turns out that France's embrace of nuclear energy is the only European example that seems to be working and the Democrats hate nuclear energy as much as they hate carbon based energy. There are elements in the Democrat party that oppose virtually every form of energy, including the so called renewable energy touted by Obama.

Energy is an issue that Republicans should be able to defeat Democrats on. The Democrat policies are meant to control consumers freedom of choice and drive up cost. This will mean a permanent recession and a lower standard of living for everyone.

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