WOLF: Energy Obamanomics: No green jobs and plenty of red ink

It’s time to end all forms of corporate welfare

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It wasn’t enough to preside over the first-ever downgrade of America’s credit rating. Now the Obama administration is downgrading America’s energy supply as well. “We’ll invest $15 billion a year over the next decade in renewable energy, creating five million new green jobs that pay well, can’t be outsourced and help end our dependence on foreign oil,” candidate Barack Obama promised in the fall of 2008. But why stop there? Why not claim that you can heal the planet - whatever that means - and control the ocean levels too? Oh yeah, he did.

Let’s start at the beginning. America’s energy policy should center around the obvious: supplying Americans with affordable and reliable energy. File that under D for “duh.” Instead, it has been hijacked by those with ulterior motives ranging from slaying the mythical man-made-global-warming monster to scoring political points against “Big Oil” to creating phony jobs programs. So, how well have President Obama’s “green jobs” initiatives fared?

The president recently toured Johnson Controls Inc., a Michigan company that received $300 million from “Obama’s stash” to create - drumroll, please - a whopping 150 jobs. Do the math: That’s $2 million per green job. And this is the company the White House chooses to showcase? Evergreen Solar, a Massachusetts company, also received stimulus money, but the White House that is “the most open and transparent in history” won’t say how much, only that Evergreen is “hoping to hire 90 to 100 people.” Instead, it declared bankruptcy and shipped 800 jobs overseas. Well, so much for green jobs.

Should we be surprised? During the campaign, Mr. Obama held up Spain’s green initiatives as a blueprint for America. We now know that the Spaniards lost 2.2 actual jobs for each “green job” they created. Some blueprint.

Consider ethanol. The government takes billions of dollars from people with actual jobs to prop up the ethanol industry. The trifecta of ethanol’s corporate welfare includes a 45-cents- to 55-cents-per-gallon subsidy, a mandate that forces supposedly free Americans to buy the industry’s product and an anti-competitive tariff on ethanol imports to prevent consumers from purchasing it at a lower price.

The unintended but easily predictable consequence of burning our food supply in our gas tanks is that grocery prices have skyrocketed. When the limited supply of farmland is diverted to ethanol, the demand for the remaining land goes up, so all food prices are affected. Simple economics. Food shortages are being felt around the world. When Mexico runs short on corn tortillas, you know there’s a problem.

Proponents of ethanol trumpet its grandness with undelivered promises of “green jobs,” environmental impact and energy independence, but they leave important questions unanswered: If ethanol is so great, why can’t it pay its own bills? Energy companies, the president reminds us constantly, are making “record profits.” Why then must Americans be forced by law and then still bribed - with their own money - to buy ethanol?

Compare this with John D. Rockefeller’s Standard Oil Co. While ethanol, solar power and other “green” boondoggles claim they need corporate welfare during their never-ending “infancy period,” Rockefeller almost single-handedly built the American oil industry. Perhaps the most successful businessman in world history, the oil magnate catapulted America ahead of Russia as a 19th-century world power not by begging politicians and taxpayers for handouts but by following a simple rule: “We must ever remember we are refining oil for the poor man and he must have it cheap and good.”

Barack Obama does not know John D. Rockefeller.

The president tried to sock it to the poor man with his “cap and trade” energy, plan under which, in his words, “rates would necessarily skyrocket.” The Obama energy policy started with, again in the president’s own words, putting a “boot on the neck” of America’s oil suppliers. Since he effectively imposed a moratorium on drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, which resulted in the administration’s being found in contempt of court, 10 oil rigs have left the Gulf and are providing affordable energy and jobs for South America, Africa and the Middle East. Meanwhile, gasoline prices have doubled since Mr. Obama took office. The court didn’t go far enough. This White House is in contempt, not just of court, but of the American people themselves.

Mr. Obama’s Environmental Protection Agency is poised to stomp a few more necks. The EPA’s regulatory train wreck is a set of regulations that energy experts say will add $129 billion to Americans’ already high energy bills while threatening to dismantle one-fifth of the nation’s coal-mining capacity. Considering that coal provides almost half of America’s electricity, this could be devastating. State leaders are already warning their residents to brace for roaming blackouts if these regulations are enacted.

American family and business budgets depend every bit as much on energy that is “cheap and good” today as they did in Rockefeller’s day. It’s time we refocus our energy policy on affordable and reliable energy rather than sabotaging it with the false promises of green jobs and the suffocating effects of governmental regulations.

It’s time for downgraded America to demand that every business pay its own bills. Mr. Obama would like to end what he calls subsidies to oil companies. Fine. Let’s apply that evenly to all energy companies. In fact, let’s apply it to all companies in America. No more bailouts, subsidies, targeted tax breaks, selective tariffs, mandates to purchase certain products or any other form of corporate welfare. If alternative energy is half as good as its proponents claim, the companies will have no problem thriving in the marketplace, but think about it: If ethanol or solar power or other so-called green companies can’t survive without keeping the oil, coal and nuclear power companies around to pay their bills for them, what’s the point?

Dr. Milton R. Wolf is a board-certified diagnostic radiologist, medical director and a cousin of President Obama’s. He blogs daily at miltonwolf.com.

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