Secretary Chu, At It Again

A new statement should be added to the list of winners that President Obama’s Energy Secretary Steven Chu has said.

In 2008, Secretary Chu said: “Somehow, we have to figure out how to boost the price of gasoline to the levels in Europe.”

In February of 2012, when asked if his goal was to decrease gas prices, Secretary Chu said: “No, the overall goal is to decrease our dependency on oil, to build and strengthen our economy.”

His latest statement comes while speaking at an energy forum hosted by the New York Times. While claiming that global warming is occurring even faster than alarmists originally thought (beware, we’re just years away from burning to death, apparently). According to the Hill, Secretary Chu said of subsidies:

“There should instead be ‘short-leash’ subsidies, perhaps in the 10-year range, he said, and that the private sector must be confident a technology can survive without subsidy.

“‘We want to create self-sustaining entities,’ Chu said.”

As we know from Washington, once something “temporary” is put in place, it is rarely ever temporary; especially when it comes to subsidies. Once an industry gets subsidies, lobbyists for that industry never let those subsidies expire.

Take the wind industry, for example. The wind industry has been receiving subsidies for the past 20 years, since 1992 – twice the amount of time that Secretary Chu says subsidies should receive – and they refuse to give them up. Wind only accounts for 2.3% of America’s electricity, yet receives subsidies 1000 times higher than what the oil industry receives.

The reason these subsidies persist is because the private sector is not confident in these technologies – hence they’re not investing in them. This is why the government steps in. The government believes wind and solar are the waves of the future, but the private sector knows they are not – at least not any decade soon. And this is why those subsidies are not allowed to expire; because the industries can’t survive on their own and the private sector won’t invest in them.

Maybe Secretary Chu was right for once. Let’s – at the very least – retroactively expire all subsidies that have been around longer than ten years. We can start with the two-decade-old wind subsidy.

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