Government Bytes


Reid's Energy Policy: Would Someone Please Change Channels?

by Pete Sepp / /

It may be premiere season for many favorite TV programs, but in Harry Reid’s Senate, it looks like nothing but reruns – bad reruns.

Just over a week ago, the Senate Majority Leader said that a costly federal renewable energy standard (RES) would “absolutely” be under consideration as the Senate attempts to churn out a few more pieces of legislation before the end of the year. This week, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) and Sen. Sam Brownback (R-KS) announced that they will be introducing a stand-alone federal RES rather than combining it with other bills.

These statements might not have garnered so much media attention if the Senate hadn’t already tuned out this terrible program, and that’s primarily because an RES simply hasn’t had the support in the Senate or in the public.  One reason why it hasn’t gained much traction is because an RES would undoubtedly raise energy costs for taxpayers by forcing every state to use expensive and often unavailable, mandated renewable sources.

 Apparently the reruns will keep coming. Sen. Reid’s team has said the renewable energy standard might have the best chance of passage during a lame-duck session, after the American people have already voiced their opposition to the scheme and to the lawmakers who back it. In other words, a federal renewable energy standard is such bad policy that if they passed it before an election, they would all surely be voted out by the public.

And for good reason. In April, NTU produced a map showing the severity of the economic damage to each state as a result of the proposed federal RES. To determine the severity, we looked at each state’s unemployment rate as of February 2010, the net electricity generation by coal, the projected increase in electricity bills by 2030 because of an RES, the projected loss of jobs by 2030, and how much of a state’s electricity generation meets Congress’s definition of “renewable.”

We found that almost every state will suffer to some degree as a result of federally mandated energy sources, but the states with higher unemployment rates will hurt the most because they, generally speaking, tend to rely more on traditional sources like coal in the first place. When you add the higher costs of renewable energy, the result is disastrous for many states.

Check out our data and see for yourself. Then, tell Harry Reid that America can’t afford a federal renewable energy standard, regardless of how many times he reruns it.