- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 22, 2011

As President Obama hurries to catch up to Europe in the conversion to so-called green energy, our trans-Atlantic neighbors are finding that they can no longer afford to support their “sustainable” power schemes. Mr. Obama’s fiscal 2012 budget, released Feb. 14, takes a page from the global-warming believer’s hymn book. It calls for a 4.2 percent boost in the Department of Energy’s budget to $29.5 billion. It also pours $8 billion into solar panels, windmills and batteries, blowing the country in the wrong direction.

Congressional Republicans attempted a small but important course correction on Saturday when they adopted an amendment to the House budget that prohibits the administration from sending $13 million in U.S. taxpayer dollars to the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, an organization whose dodgy statistics have been used to inflame climate hysteria. The United Kingdom, an early player in the green game, is also cutting back on its sponsorship of intermittent sources of power. The U.K. Department of Energy and Climate Change announced Feb. 7 that it would reconsider one of its programs in light of evidence that money intended for homes and small businesses to generate their own electricity was being gobbled up by large-scale solar farms. Investors who depend on government checks to bail out their money-losing ventures are crying foul. “Change damages confidence in established assets, and for fledgling industries such as solar, it could be fatal,” one investor told the Financial News.

Even the Netherlands, which has always been at the cutting edge of windmill technology, may pare back national goals for renewable energy. Noting the unsustainable expense of underwriting such ventures in tough economic times, the Dutch are dropping the renewable mandates and instead planning to build their first new nuclear plants in nearly 40 years.

With many on both sides of the Atlantic struggling through yet another severe winter, trendy green programs look more and more like luxuries everyone can do without. In Wales, about 26 percent of households find themselves in “fuel poverty,” spending at least 10 percent of their income heating their homes. Wales Online reports that during this particular cold spell, some low-income families chose to go hungry so they could afford to pay the bill to stay warm.

Until now, the European Union has been all-in on the green-power craze. EU Energy Commissioner Gunther H. Oettinger recently threw cold water on the European plan to boost carbon-dioxide-reduction targets from 20 percent to 30 percent. “If we go alone to 30 percent, you will only have a faster process of deindustrialization in Europe,” he told Britain’s Guardian.

Deindustrialization is precisely the goal of the administration. While other nations drop out of the race to be the greenest, America’s me-too president soon could find himself running alone. Winning this race would make losers of taxpayers, who would be the ones left in the cold.