- - Monday, October 6, 2014

The League of Conservation Voters is going all in with $25 million on the table in a desperate gamble to keep the Senate in Democratic hands. “This is five times more than what we spent in 2010,” Daniel Weiss, a senior vice president of the league, tells a C-SPAN interviewer. In addition to the usual torrent of television commercials, the league will pay for a get-out-the-vote drive in the final weeks of the campaign. It’s all about green — including putting more of it into the pockets of the league.

At the top of the “environmental” agenda is renewal of the wind-production tax credit that expired last year. Since 1992, this credit transferred $24 billion to big companies invested in windmills, a hopelessly uneconomic power source that only works in a breeze.

Naturally, the wind-energy industry wants its free money, because without the government cash, it can’t keep the lights on. Enter the League of Conservation Voters, with campaign funds to aid the six most endangered Democratic senators, on whom they will count to press the subsidy button to restore the flurry of wind freebies.

The league says Democratic control of the Senate is the only thing keeping Republicans from rolling back other “green” subsidies. “Power plants are the No. 1 source of climate pollution,” says Mr. Weiss. ” If a number of senators lose and the Senate firewall is destroyed, then the Senate, like the House, will pass laws that will undo existing environmental protections.” (We must all hope.)

The league, including its treasurer, Tom Kiernan, has a lot at stake. Mr. Kiernan is the CEO of the American Wind Energy Association, which blows hard for restoration of the multibillion-dollar tax credit. Another board member, Peter Mandelstam, is CEO of Green Sail Energy, a firm to develop offshore windmills. Board member Theodore Roosevelt IV, great-grandson of the president, is a managing director of Barclays Capital with a portfolio that includes a $400 million investment in the $2.5 billion Cape Wind offshore windmill farm in Nantucket Sound off the Massachusetts coast.

Republicans must remember who paid for these attacks on their candidates when Congress returns. Some in the party are susceptible to the claims of “renewable energy,” but now the boondoggle is as much bad politics as bad economics.

The self-dealing is done in the name of healing the planet, all of whose ills the league blames on affordable energy sources. “The prolonged drought that we’re facing in the Southwest and California may be climate-related,” says Mr. Weiss, ” … so we’re already seeing the effect of climate change here.”

Wind subsidies may keep the Dom Perignon flowing in the boardrooms of the environmentalists, but the subsidies won’t do a thing to make water flow to the farmers in California’s parched valleys, fields and deserts. Spools of environmental red tape won’t prevent forest fires and lower the planetary thermostat. Most of the available wind comes in a bag that looks a lot like someone from the League of Conservation Voters.

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