by Titus Businelle

Energy powers our society and is a powerful resource for control. Our ability as a nation to turn the lights on in our homes, connect online, travel to work, or stay warm during blizzards is in the hands of those who regulate every form of energy. In the United States of America, energy policies instituted by the Federal Government impact every citizen’s use of energy, which makes it imperative for smart policy decisions to advance reliable solutions for the growing energy needs. However, when analyzing the status quo, or current situation, the Federal Government is passing policies to further harmful forms of renewable energy usage, which are detrimental to our grid, environment, and energy sector as a whole. While degrading energy based on fossil fuels as bad and promoting sources such as wind, solar, electrics, and biofuels as good, the current government policies are designing a disaster. Both sources of energy have benefits and harms, but the drive for net-zero emissions through the exclusive use of renewables by 2050 is detrimental. The path forward must begin by removing all government funding and subsidies for renewable energy and turn to focusing on technologies that are ready, reliable, and able to meet market success.

In order to shift to new energy policy plans, it is essential to clarify the agenda currently leading US energy policy. The Biden Administration has clearly pushed renewable energy to the forefront of the agenda, going so far as to have the US be one hundred percent reliant on renewable energy by 2050.[1] The primary facet chosen to obtain net-zero emissions is renewables such as wind, solar, and electric vehicles. While pumping money into the renewable market, the Biden Administration has taken steps against the use of fossil fuels, as evidenced by the revocation of the cross-border permit for the Keystone XL pipeline on President Biden’s first day in office. Biden’s long-term goal forces energy plants that produce emissions, such as gas and coal plants, to close down.

Though many hope renewables can wholly replace fossil fuel sources, it is necessary to first critically examine if renewable energy has price-performance parity (P3).[2] Renewable energy sources require government subsidies or tax credits to be competitive in price and cannot keep up when it comes to reliability when compared to fossil fuel energy sources. While P3 may be a major goal of the government, issues such as transportation efficiency have yet to be addressed. Fossil fuels contain about forty times more energy than the state-of-the-art battery. This is especially important in places such as aviation and long-haul shipping, where electric vehicles fail to be competitive or safe, which disables their ability to reach P3. (Gross, 2020)[3] Though counterintuitive, renewable energy is extremely harmful to the environment. Solar panel and windmill farms require an absurd amount of land. For example, the amount of land required to power New York City’s 205,000 acres is about 2 million acres. Additionally, since every wind turbine requires a 2,500-ton block of concrete, millions of acres would be filled with destructive materials.[4] Renewable energy depends on mined materials, which is a huge threat to biodiversity. A recent study found the risks of mining could surpass any benefits presented for climate change mitigation.[5] The transition to renewables also has major performance issues. Due to the fact that renewable energy depends on uncertain conditions, the risk for blackouts or shutdowns during extreme weather, or in the wrong conditions are expected. Examples such as these show a need for new innovation to achieve P3, as the current renewable, net-zero options will not provide for the US energy needs.

Acknowledging the insufficiencies of current renewable options forces the conclusion that US energy policy must change directions and stop wasting taxpayer dollars on unreliable, unaffordable technologies. Current US policies only seek to create more of the existing technologies that fail to reach P3.[4] The Biden Administration is subsidizing and meddling in the market through policies such as the Tax Inflation Reduction Act, the Renewable Fuel Standard, and Executive Order 14057. Should the government extort the market to its will? This is a long-disputed topic, led by two opposing economic schools of though, most notably John Maynard Keynes and Friedrich Hayek. Some argue that projects and parts of the economy would fail without intervention,[6] while others argue that if it truly were important, the free market and consumers would support it.[7] As for policies supporting renewables, government intervention is creating a more uncertain and unreliable energy future by subsidizing poor forms of energy. The principles outlined by free market economics, which are not controlled by government forces, prove that as soon as a reliable solution meeting price-performance parity enters the market, it will be readily adopted by consumers. Technologies such as lightbulbs revolutionized society and have been sustained without government forces.

The US government’s desire for net-zero emissions should not impose a burden on society. Evidence shows the Federal Government’s goal of net-zero emissions cannot be accomplished through current renewable options, and forcing renewable energy through policies such as the Inflation Reduction Act are harmful. These problematic policies focus on renewables that are unreliable,[8] damaging to the environment,[4] and are creating an artificial market. Ending the policies subsidizing renewable energy will save billions of U.S. taxpayer dollars,[9] maintain a reliable energy grid,[8] and let the free market innovate sustainable solutions that meet the standards of P3. Frankly, the idea that unproven, harmful, and unreliable technologies could be the sole backbone of our grid is concerning. Ecosystems destroyed, blackouts, and extortion of the market are the results of current harmful government policy. The government shouldn’t pick the source of energy we use, and by removing government support for renewables, we ensure the free market chooses the best energy sources. Instead of settling for the current situation, we can continue to innovate and allow for a solution to happen naturally. This should be the path forward.