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December 11, 2018

The Gap Between Green-Energy Dreams and Reality in Two Pictures


To hear leftists tell it, the U.S. could easily transition to 100 percent clean energy quickly and easily—and create lots of high-paying jobs and economic growth to boot.
For example, Representative-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez—who has become the go-to socialist for foolish quotes—recently told an audience, “As a matter of fact, it’s not just possible that we will create jobs and economic activity by transitioning to renewable energy, but it’s inevitable.”
Then she added, “And it’s inevitable that we can use the transition to 100% renewable energy as the vehicle to truly deliver and establish economic, social, and racial justice in the United States of America. That is our proposal and that is what we are here to do.”
A bold claim given that President Obama was the most pro-renewable energy president we have ever had, funneling billions of taxpayer dollars to his green-energy friends. And yet renewable energy was responsible for only 9.6 percent of U.S. electricity generation in 2017 (17.0 percent if you include hydropower, but that’s not really what they’re talking about). It was about 5 percent when Obama entered office.
But here is another example of how renewable energy reality falls short of leftist projections.
In 2007, the Democratically controlled Congress passed the Energy Independence and Security Act, and President George W. “America is addicted to oil” Bush signed it.
The law mandated a dramatic increase in the renewable fuel volume—i.e., ethanol and biofuels that are blended with gasoline.
The graph on the left shows what the law mandated. Traditional corn-based ethanol usage would only increase slightly between 2010 and 2022, while cellulosic and other advanced biofuels would see a huge increase.

Now look at the graph on the right. That’s what the Environmental Protection Agency actually required. Why the difference?
The primary reason is the green-energy advocates and companies assured Congress they could meet those production goals but failed miserably—even though taxpayer subsidies flowed like a green river.
As energy contributor Robert Rapier points out, “[T]here was no commercial cellulosic ethanol production when the mandates were established, but proponents of the technology were certain that commercialization would come in response to the mandates.”
The industry did, finally, begin producing some cellulosic ethanol, but far short of the congressional mandate. In 2017, the industry produced 10 million gallons, but the mandate required 5.5 billion gallons.
We don’t expect Ocasio-Cortez will learn from this lesson, but maybe some lawmakers will realize that just because environmental hardliners claim the technology is there, transitioning to 100 percent renewable energy is likely decades in the future—if then.


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