Last year at the climate-change conference in Copenhagen, Hillary Clinton promised lots of cash for the cause, presuming that Democrats would control the budget process for FY2011. Thanks to a year-long avoidance strategy, neither chamber of Congress has yet to produce a budget, and now Clinton’s cash pledges look increasingly endangered. The incoming Republican majority wonders exactly where Clinton thought the US could find the money in the first place:
Obama officials insist they are full-steam ahead with their pledge to help create a $30 billion short-term fund that helps developing countries keep their forests standing, gain access to low-carbon energy technologies and also in adapting to rising seas, extreme weather and new crop patterns.
To pay its share, the United States will triple its financial contributions in fiscal year 2010 on climate-related activities to $1.7 billion, including $1.3 billion appropriated from Congress and another $400 million in development finance and export credits that don’t need approval from Capitol Hill.
Obama also has asked Congress for another $1.9 billion in fiscal 2011, though that appears unlikely as lawmakers prepare a continuing resolution for the remainder of the 2010 budget.
“They can make all the promises they want, they may have to find somewhere else to pay for it other than the Appropriations Committee,” said Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), the chairman of the spending subpanel that oversees the State Department’s budget.
“They promised to pass a cap-and-trade bill and reminded us they wanted to give away $100 billion and I said, ‘From where?'” incoming House Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) told POLITICO.
Just to remind everyone, the US ran a $1.3 trillion deficit in FY2010, following a similar deficit in FY2009. The deficit got covered by borrowing, with a large portion of the bonds bought by China. Why not just ask China to fund these efforts and cut out the middleman? Well, for one thing, China’s not foolish enough to waste its money on these efforts, being much more interested in building coal plants and exploring for oil.
China also isn’t foolish enough to participate in a self-flagellating redistribution program, either. The Obama administration remains committed to funding “its share” of a $100 billion account that would redistribute funds from the wealthy industrial nations to developing nations, ostensibly on the basis of their commitment to green energy. Even the distribution protocols look iffy, thanks to resistance from the developing nations — many of which are autocracies or dictatorships — on verification. Now that the Democrats have lost the House, liberal groups like Center for American Progress now want to spin this as aid for allies against terrorism.
Meanwhile, progressives have another beef here at home on climate change with — wait for it — the tax deal Barack Obama cut with the GOP. The New Republic reports on the latest outrage, which is that a lack of corporate welfare in the deal could kill the “green economy”:
Back in 2008, Congress extended (yet again) tax credits for solar and wind producers, which now cover 30 percent of upfront costs. But when the recession made it tougher for firms to get financing, the credits were no longer working as advertised. So, in last year’s stimulus bill, Congress converted the credits to flat grants. That seemed to do the trick: According to the Financial Times, two-thirds of all new solar projects and 85 percent of all new wind projects in the United States now rely on these grants. Trouble is, the grant program is going to expire at the end of the year. This frequently happens with tax support for renewables, and Congress usually just extends the program after a brief period of dithering.
But not this time. The tax breaks weren’t included anywhere in the Obama deal. And so the solar and wind industries are now freaking out, warning that their companies are about to tumble off a cliff, shed thousands of jobs, etc. What’s particularly galling is that the ethanol industry is getting its tax breaks renewed. As a clean-energy source, ethanol is highly dubious: Studies have found that the whole process can produce more heat-trapping CO2 emissions than regular old gasoline. But ethanol has a powerful farm-state constituency, and those subsidies have long been sacrosanct.
Ethanol subsidies should have ended long ago. But if the solar and wind producers are still only existing on the grace of federal subsidies, then perhaps those should end as well. The US has been underwriting wind and solar for decades in the hope that they would eventually transform into profitable and high-production industries. Even the progressives that back them in principle and insist on subsidizing them wind up opposing construction of sites like the wind farm off of Cape Cod (the Cape Wind project) and solar farms like Ridgway and Teanaway. The use of these technologies in practice for mass production creates eyesore sites, eats up tons of land, and has their own impacts on the local environment.
It’s time to stop wasting money, and certainly time to stop the push for redistribution of wealth using “global warming” as the excuse du jour.