Booming North Dakota Shows The World What Free Market Energy Looks Like
Michael Barone has an interesting article at the Washington Examiner comparing Williston, North Dakota, the heart of the Bakken oil boom to Fremont, California home of notorious green energy “stimulus” flop Solyndra.
“This tale of two cities has a moral, which is that no political or governmental leader can forecast the future,” writes Barone. “Barack Obama and his Nobel Prize-winning energy secretary thought solar panels were a huge growth industry. They bet billions of tax dollars and lost.”
Barone’s “tale of two cities” comparison is apt, but another apt comparison can be made between America’s energy markets and Germany’s. Call it a “tale of two countries.”
Here in America, the brightest spot in our economy is the energy secto, thanks largely to fracking in places like the Bakken in North Dakota – the Marcellus Formation in Pennsylvania, the Utica Formation in Ohio, etc., etc. – which has opened up entire galaxies of oil and gas reserves. These new reserves are lowering energy prices which are having a profound impact on our economy far beyond oil and gas jobs. But it’s not just jobs and commerce, it’s better energy too. Cheap, reliable natural gas is replacing coal as the cornerstone of the nation’s energy grid. And because natural gas is cleaner, carbon emissions are down to Clinton administration-era levels.
In summary, America has a booming energy sector creating wealth, prosperity, energy security and a cleaner environment.
What’s happening in Germany? The government there, led by Chancellor Angela Merkel, decided to try and instigate a “green revolution” with the usual raft of policies ranging from mandates, taxes and subsidies. How has that worked out? Not so great (via Erika Johnson):
Germany may need to adjust its energy efficiency targets but remains committed to the “green revolution” it outlined last year, the country’s environment minister said on Tuesday. …
The minister caused a stir on Sunday by comments to a newspaper that the target would require an enormous effort and that he doubted whether it was even possible. …
Such comments are something of an embarrassment for Chancellor Angela Merkel, who abruptly announced an accelerated exit from nuclear energy last year after Japan’s Fukushima disaster and laid out a vision for a switch to renewable power. …
Merkel’s goals are to increase renewable energy to at least 35 percent of power generation by 2020 and 80 percent by 2050. Twenty percent of electricity now comes from renewables, nearly half of that from wind turbines. …
“The problems the ministers describe are long known. The coalition’s energy revolution is nothing more than rhetoric … The expansion of the grid is not making progress, and the integration of renewable energy is a failure,” he said.
This isn’t just about oil and gas being better sources of energy than windmills and solar panels (though I’m not ruling out the day when wind and solar technology might improve to the point of being a viable alternative). This is about what happens when the government tries to drive the market instead free enterprise.
Can the government make the right decisions? Sure. But they don’t very often, and when they fail it costs taxpayers. Capitalists aren’t perfect either, of course, but when they lose it’s their own money they’re playing with.Tags: energy, fracking, germany, green energy, North Dakota News