Tag: wind energy
Wind Energy Production

Why Are Texas Republicans Taxing Their State's Abundant Clean Energy?

Texas is currently America's leader in wind and solar power. It provides 28 percent of America's wind energy. If it were a country, it would be the fifth biggest source. Surprisingly, it's about to eclipse California in production of solar power.

And so why aren't Texas Republicans bragging about all that? Why, on the contrary, are they attacking clean energy with regulatory and tax burdens? Perhaps it's their co-dependance with oil and gas interests.

On the psychosis level, renewables serve as a right-wing culture-war toy. After all, they are the pride and joy of President Joe Biden and concerned environmentalists everywhere. Same goes for the science behind planet warming.

Renewables have become "a four-letter word," according to a big Texas landowner trying to stop a real rancher from putting a wind farm near his rich-man ranch. (His land is his land, and so is his neighbor's.)

This leads to a plausible guess: Some of the older Texas money sees green energy's amassing of economic power — with its growing empire of wind turbines and solar farms — lording over parts of Texas they're supposed to be lording over.

Well, we will need fossil fuels for the near future, but they are headed into the sunset. We don't power our lamps anymore with whale oil.

If there weren't so many Texans gaining economic benefit from America's green energy policies, one might say, "Boys and girls, go out and play your game."

But they're going after a source of big money and bigger money to come. In olden times, Gov. Rick Perry likened the state's wind projects to Spindletop, the spectacular 1901 gusher that turned Texas into an oil giant.

Last year, over a third of the country's clean-power projects were in Texas. One reason, ironically, is that Texas is a low-regulation state that lets people easily build things. Plus, it has loads of open land swept by mighty winds.

But one of the bills before the legislature would require renewable energy projects to get permits from the state and an environmental impact statement from the Parks and Wildlife Department. Any property owners "within 25 miles" could call for a hearing. It goes on.

The Earth Liberation Front would look on that regulatory aggression with envy.

You would think that the self-interests in green energy would stir some brain cells in the Texas Capitol. But Gov. Greg Abbott blamed the 2021 electricity blackouts that left millions of Texans without heat in frigid temperatures on ... wind turbines. They did freeze, as did gas-powered plants, coal-fired plants and a nuclear plant.

Industrial and consumer users of energy are complaining that the proposed disincentives for green energy will drive up their electricity costs. One of the biggest developers of renewables in Texas, Enel, now says it might reconsider its expansion plans if confronted with new bills targeting their projects with higher costs.

(Imagine a governor in Florida threatening his largest taxpayer and employer over some minor disagreement and then the company saying it would halt a big planned development. These are strange times we live in.)

Two years ago, Elon Musk moved his electric vehicle carmaker, Tesla, to Texas. His plan was to "end the Oil Age." And when Donald Trump pulled the U.S. out of the Paris Accords, Musk quit Trump's advisory council.

Sure, Musk has gone mental over woke activism — whose clout he greatly overestimates — but you wonder what he thinks about the bold efforts in Texas to punish the very industry he relies on. America now has 55 plants making EVs.

As for the Texas political leaders or anyone else who wants to stymie green energy: What's wrong with these people?

Follow Froma Harrop on Twitter @FromaHarrop. She can be reached at fharrop@gmail.com. To find out more about Froma Harrop and read features by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators webpage at www.creators.com.

Reprinted with permission from Creators.

Wind Energy Production

Oil Lobby's Republicans Aim To Hinder Clean Wind Energy Production

The Union of Concerned Scientists calls wind 'one of the cleanest and most sustainable ways to generate electricity.'

House Republicans plan to hold a vote this week on the Lower Energy Costs Act, a package of proposals to boost fossil fuel drilling and roll back environmental regulations, which they claim will promote an "all-of-the-above energy policy," meaning tapping every renewable and nonrenewable source available. But several amendments being pushed by GOP lawmakers would undermine the development of the production of wind energy, a power source experts say must be a major component of efforts to avert catastrophic climate change.

The GOP package would cut taxes on natural gas; reduce environmental safety regulations; and make it easier for oil and gas companies to drill on public lands, build pipelines, and export their products. It is designated as H.R. 1, a number typically reserved for a bill representing a top priority for the majority party.

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy said in a statement posted to his official website:

H.R. 1, the Lower Energy Costs Act, focuses on two main priorities: increasing the production and export of American energy and reducing the regulatory burdens that make it harder to build American infrastructure and grow our economy. … To lower costs for Americans and grow our economy, we need to get the federal government out of the way. The Lower Energy Costs Act will fast-track American energy production, and includes comprehensive permitting reforms that will speed construction for everything from pipelines to transmission to water infrastructure.

Before the vote on the bill itself, the House will vote on amendments to it, including three proposals by anti-wind energy Republicans to put the federal government in the way of wind energy development.

Florida Rep. Anna Paulina Luna will offer two proposed amendments to the bill.

One of Luna's amendments would require the Government Accountability Office to produce and publish a study of the impacts of wind, "including the adverse effects of wind energy on military readiness, marine environment, and tourism," before the administration could move forward with wind farm leases in Eastern Gulf of Mexico Planning Area, the South Atlantic Planning Area, and the Straits of Florida Planning Area.

Luna's second amendment would put Congress on record as warning "that major components of wind infrastructure, including turbines, are imported in large quantities from other countries including countries that are national security threats, such as the Government of the People's Republic of China."

New Jersey Rep. Chris Smith's amendment would compel the Government Accountability Office to carry out a "study of sufficiency of the environmental review process for offshore wind."

New Jersey Rep. Jeff Van Drew, who once backed wind energy and even previously served as co-chair of the House's Offshore Wind Caucus, proposed changes that would similarly force the nonpartisan research agency "to publish a report on all potential adverse effects of wind energy development in the North Atlantic Planning Area."

These amendments would force the government to devote time and energy to creating reports telling only one side of the story. And Luna’s amendment would also halt progress until that research is done.

All three lawmakers have taken a significant amount of campaign cash from nonrenewable energy interests. Luna took $33,369 in political action committee donations from oil and gas during her 2022 campaign; Van Drew received $32,000 from the oil and gas sector and $22,500 from electric utilities for his 2020 and 2022 races; and Smith has accepted $2,000 from oil and gas PACs and $17,000 from electric companies since his 2012 campaign.

According to a 2013 explainer published by the Union of Concerned Scientists, wind power creates some environmental concerns that need to be mitigated, such as making sure turbines are built in places that disrupt land use as little as possible.

But the group noted: "Harnessing power from the wind is one of the cleanest and most sustainable ways to generate electricity as it produces no toxic pollution or global warming emissions. Wind is also abundant, inexhaustible, and affordable, which makes it a viable and large-scale alternative to fossil fuels."

The Sierra Club also endorses wind farming as a safe and climate-friendly energy source: "Wind energy plays an important role in fighting climate change and weaning us off fossil fuels. In 2018, wind energy avoided 201 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions. It is also one of the lowest-priced sources of energy available today."

The Republican Party has long rejected calls to curb climate change and reduce fossil fuel use, frequently framing their energy policies as an "all-of-the-above" approach.

The party's 2016 platform, left unchanged in 2020, states: "Together, the people of America's energy sector provide us with power that is clean, affordable, secure, and abundant. Their work can guarantee the nation's energy security for centuries to come if, instead of erecting roadblocks, government facilitates the creation of an all-of-the-above energy strategy."

House Majority Whip Tom Emmer told Politico on March 6 that this was the strategy behind the GOP's energy package. "Everybody will have a little different perspective," the Minnesota Republican said. "But when you want to attack inflation in this country, it starts with an all-of-the-above energy policy, and I think that will be the more unifying thing."

On March 9, Van Drew hosted a House field hearing in Wildwood, New Jersey, on the dangers of offshore wind development.

Local environmental leaders criticized the hearing and Van Drew's position on the subject.

Ed Potosnak, executive director for the New Jersey League of Conservation Voters, said in a statement that climate change is the real threat to the state's residents.

"As co-chair of the Offshore Wind caucus in the House of Representatives, Van Drew was once regarded as the 'most progressive Republican' on climate and environmental issues," Potosnak noted. "Now, he's a shill for the fossil fuel industry, flip-flopping on his promises to support New Jersey's growing clean energy economy and pushing lies implying that offshore wind development is killing marine life."

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has already proclaimed the bill dead on arrival should it reach the Senate. President Joe Biden's office said that he would veto it if it reached his desk.

Reprinted with permission from American Independent.

Yes, We Really Can Save The Earth (And Here’s Proof)

Yes, We Really Can Save The Earth (And Here’s Proof)

Reprinted with permission from Creators

Anyone who lives in the world of scientific reality — which we all do, although some like to pretend we don't — may feel dejected these days by the inevitability of catastrophic climate change. For years now, the news about the fate of the Earth (and the living things that inhabit our planet) has grown increasingly grim, with doomsday projected to arrive sometime before the end of this century.

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Mired In The Present, They Won’t Seize The Clean Energy Future

Mired In The Present, They Won’t Seize The Clean Energy Future

When Henry Ford introduced the Model T in 1908, America had almost no paved roads outside the cities. One of the early owners’ biggest headaches was tires punctured by horseshoe nails left on the road.

“Forget about this car thing,” Ford’s detractors might have said. “We don’t believe in government subsidies for road paving, and we’re protecting the pony cart makers. Anyhow, less than 1 percent of Americans even travel by car.”

Today’s can’t-doers must have been surprised this month when Tesla, the electric-car innovator, drove past Ford Motor Co. in market value while nipping at the heels of General Motors. Both Ford and GM have been doing well of late, but investors have flocked to Tesla stock as a growth rocket. (Days before, Tesla founder Elon Musk’s SpaceX company launched — and landed! — a real rocket.)

All this follows years of conservatives’ carping against Tesla and green energy initiatives. In 2015, the conservative Daily Caller website panned Tesla thusly:

“Liberal entrepreneur Elon Musk’s business ventures have benefited from nearly $5 billion in government subsidies in the past few years, but apparently that’s not enough taxpayer support to stop his electric car business from losing $4,000 on every vehicle it sells.”

IMAGE: Employees carry solar panels at a solar power plant in Aksu, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, in this May 18, 2012 file photo.  REUTERS/Stringer/Files