Green Energy Is Bad Medicine

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By George Demos | March 14, 2012 4:15 AM EST

There's only one remedy for America's feverish gas prices: oil. But President Barack Obama mocks drilling, blocks drilling, and stonewalls the Keystone pipeline. "No quick fixes," he scolds, while hawking unproven technology like algae as the cure for $5 and $6 gas.

Obama's infatuation with alternative energy not only fails to soothe our pain at the pump, it squanders our tax dollars on unworkable schemes. And it's no coincidence that much of that money comes back to him in the form of campaign donations from corporations like GE and Solyndra.

Americans are tired of this storyline. First, Obama is star-struck by some "green" company's Magical Mystery Cure. Next, he lavishes them with our cash, and sometimes pushes legislation that forces us to use their product or service.

But the president always fails to ask the key questions: "Does the technology work, and will it ease energy prices within the lifetime of people suffering today?"

The media doesn't help. They love new and futuristic ideas, and they hype the "green" just as they hyped Obama in 2008. Recently, they gushed over the $50 light bulb that Obama awarded the $10 million "L Prize." Never mind that the Washington Post wrote, "Similar LED bulbs are half the cost" and puzzled over just what Phillips had done to deserve that money.

And electric cars? They run on hype. Here on Long Island, where I'm running for Congress as a conservative Republican, Newsday waited breathlessly for the first Chevy Volt to arrive. And Motor Trend named it "Car of the Year" before it had done anything  -- the automotive equivalent of Obama's peace prize.

Reporters ignored inconvenient truths like the Volt battery bursting into flames and that, even with Obama's tax credit, it's more expensive than a sedan with an internal combustion engine. Proven technology. Certainly no one mentioned that electric cars are essentially powered by coal, the source of about 60 percent of U.S. electricity.

Obama gambled billions on the Volt, but GM sold only 7,000 last year -- barely enough to fill the lot at Nassau Coliseum, home of our New York Islanders. And Fisker's $100,000 hybrid died during a Consumer Reports road test. Another $529 million government loan down the tubes.

Love is blind, and that's the case with Obama's green crushes. Remember his boast that Solyndra's silicon-based solar panels would leave competitors in the dust? Forbes's Tim Worstall called it "blatantly obvious" that silicon prices would drop and that Solyndra was "never even close to being competitive on pricing against non-silicon technologies."

The prognosis is grim for wind power, too. On our North Fork, it cost $500,000 to erect the first of what Greens hope will be thousands of turbines. But the UK Telegraph warns that Britain's power industry "admits that for up to 30 percent of the time, turbines are idle because wind speeds are too low to turn the blades, or too high, risking damage to the machines," and because there's no "suitable method of storing the excess power produced when winds are blowing but electricity use is low, many turbines also have to be turned off for fear of overloading the grid."

Wind conditions need to be consistent, and they are anything but on Long Island Sound.

When these boondoggles fail, it's a nightmare for the rest of us. AEI found, "Green programs in Spain destroyed 2.2 jobs for every green job created, while the capital needed for one green job in Italy could create almost five jobs in the general economy."

Yet we're repeating the mistakes of Europe here at home. Suffolk County "has found jobs for only 33 percent of welfare recipients being trained under a federal grant to do 'green jobs,'" a similar effort in Seattle spent $20 million for 14 jobs.

Unfortunately, alternative energy is bipartisan bad medicine. Both my primary opponent Randy Altschuler (recently of the Green Party) and incumbent Rep. Tim Bishop (D-NY) have donned the emerald-colored glasses. In their eyes, oil is not the cure to mankind's brute, animal-powered existence; it's a disease.

Greens are entitled to their opinion, but I would remind them that doctors have always used the medicines they have on hand even if they weren't perfect.  They didn't let patients suffer while waiting for better technology that might not arrive for centuries.

It will be the market, not the government, that finds our future replacement for gasoline. But until we discover that miracle fuel, we have to use what the earth gives us: Oil.

From the Gulf.

From shale and sands.

From Canada via the Keystone pipeline

And if Green politicians continue their economic malpractice, the American people will hire new doctors this fall -- ones who know there's only one cure for high gas prices, and who aren't afraid to drill for it. 

George Demos, a former U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission enforcement attorney, is a Republican candidate for Congress in New York's 1st District. You can find him at or on Twitter @Demos4Congress.

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