There’s no question that Obama and the Democrats will invest heavily in green, clean energy, particularly the varieties liberals love (no nuclear, no “clean” coal). But it’s not as though he’ll be the first to use government to push these alternative energies. Actually, the whole history of alternative energy is one of government pushes and nudges, and typically they’ve been wasteful:
Culture11: Indeed, wastefulness and special pleading have been hallmarks of government alternative energy spending. Remember FutureGen, an ambitious effort aimed at developing a coal-burning power plant in Illinois that uses sophisticated technology to capture carbon dioxide emissions?
Three years ago, FutureGen was trumpeted by Congress as the future of the coal industry. In January the DOE finally pulled the plug on it, because of meager results and skyrocketing costs.
That decision didn’t sit well with Illinois officials who faced the loss of a multi-billion-dollar project in their state. The Illinois government lobbied the federal government to put the project back on track and Illinois Senator Richard Durbin even threatened to block President Bush’s appointments to the department until the state got its boondoggle pork barrel project back. Obama now looks set to reinstate it.
Granted, it’s only natural for members of Congress or presidents-elect to bring home the bacon. But let’s not pretend that more pork-barreling is going to magically fix our environmental problems.
The article goes onto note our ongoing ethanol embarrassment (though we’ll refrain from getting into that in order to head off the inevitable discussion about ‘if only it was sugar ethanol like Brazil!’)
Bottom line: We should be curious not just in how much Obama plans to spend on energy, but on how he thinks it can be differently from the failed efforts of the past.