Late-Night Radio Show Caller Throws Tantrum Over Subsidies for Renewables

I got a call shortly after dinner last night from a radio host in Denver, explaining that due to a last-minute cancellation, he had an hour-long opening on his show. He asked if he could call me for the interview – at 1 AM!

I agreed, stayed up late, reading, checking out Jay Leno, and fighting off the yawns.

The highlight of the show for me was a caller attacking clean energy based on the fact that the government subsidizes it. When I pointed out that fossil fuels get 12 times the amount of subsidies as clean energy, he responded that since clean energy is only 2% of the total grid-mix, the subsidies it receives represent four times those of fossil fuels per installed megawatt.

I’m not sure how to argue this. Of course, if you don’t believe in government subsidies for anything at any time, that’s one thing. But if you’re not in that camp, the caller’s position strikes me as considerably shortsighted, which I told him. It’s like saying that we shouldn’t have built the Internet in the 1990s because there were a only few people online; his point is really no better than that.

And here, I mentioned, we’re talking about a subject that transcends convenience and the (few) niceties of our modern age. Whether your concern is environmentalism, national security, lung disease, the ballooning national debt (just take your choice), we need to be concerned about real dangers here that government, I believe, is duty-bound to address.

I also note that the subsidies for oil have been in place for 80 – 90 years. Washington is so completely bought off by the oil industry and its 7000 lobbyists that it simply does have the integrity to bring this sad state of affairs to a close; this is corruption in its purest and most obvious form. By contrast, you’ll have a hell of a hard time finding an advocate of clean energy who thinks the industry should be subsidized until the year 2190.

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