When we first started Everblue, I always felt a little guilty that solar and other forms of renewables couldn’t survive without a state or federal energy subsidy. It went against the free market, right?
But over time, I realized that we give far more subsidy to other forms of energy. Anyone downwind of a coal plant, downriver of a coal mine, or with drinking water near coal ash storage suffers health and environmental effects ranging from asthma to cancer. What’s the cost of this hidden subsidy?
We’ve spent $7 trillion in the Middle East since 9/11, mostly fighting wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Do you know why we care about the Mideast? Because it sits on top of a lot of oil. Sure, the U.S. produces about 10-11 million barrels of oil per day, but we consume twice that amount and import the shortfall. Have you ever noticed how the U.S. doesn’t really care what happens in places that don’t have big oil reserves? For $7 trillion, we could have an entirely carbon-free economy, cured cancer, and a colony on Mars with money left over.
This past week, President Trump worked with Russia and Saudi Arabia to coordinate a reduction in global oil output by about 10 million barrels a day in response to the Coronavirus. While I am happy to see less oil getting burned, the president’s motivation was ostensibly to prop up U.S. oil producers. U.S. consumers will now spend an extra $200 billion per year in the form of higher gas prices. That’s a federal energy subsidy, folks.
Meanwhile, investors are flocking to solar because of its stable, long-term returns in this time of crisis.
Imagine what could happen if we stopped subsidizing forms of energy that are killing us? Just remember this next time someone complains to you about tax credits for wind, solar, or electric vehicle batteries.