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Opinion: Green energy will gut more than the oil market

Peter J. Ferrara

Oil workers are not the only people who will lose their jobs if we try to replace fossil fuels with so-called “green energy.” Coal miners, pipe layers, natural gas workers and people in related industries will also suffer. But it will go much deeper than that.

American blue-collar workers in manufacturing jobs, who have been enjoying a historic boom under President Trump, will likely lose their jobs due to higher energy prices and manufacturing costs. Manufacturing is energy intensive. That means low-cost, reliable energy is essential to manufacturing and blue-collar jobs.

Because they require backup from fossil fuels, wind and solar energy are not real alternatives to fossil fuels, Ferrara writes.

Germany tried to replace fossil fuels with green energy primarily involving wind and solar power. As a result, electricity costs soared in Germany, for businesses and consumers. German households pay three times as much for each unit of electricity as U.S. households pay. German businesses pay among the highest costs in the world. Imagine your monthly electricity bill three times higher than what it currently is!

Denmark also suffered high electricity costs when the nation attempted to replace fossil fuels with green energy.

In America, California has higher electricity costs than the rest of the nation because of wind and solar mania. It is effectively another tax increase, draining money away from household budgets and decreasing living standards.

As Robert Bryce explains in his insightful book, "Power Hungry: The Myths of 'Green' Energy and the Real Fuels of the Future": "We use hydrocarbons [fossil fuels] – coal, oil, and natural gas – not because we like them, but because they produce lots of heat energy, from small spaces, at prices we can afford, and in the quantities that we demand.” He adds, “The energy business is ruthlessly policed by the Four Imperatives: power density, energy density, cost and scale.”

Fossil fuels have high energy density, which means they produce large amounts of usable energy from comparatively small amounts of fuel, much more than can be found blowing in the wind or dancing on sunbeams. That is most fundamentally why green energy costs so much more than fossil fuels.

Moreover, the sun doesn’t always shine, and the wind doesn’t always blow. But the electric grid requires a consistent flow of electricity. That is why wind and solar energy require backup from fossil fuels. That required backup energy adds to the effective costs of wind and solar. It also means that “alternative energy” is not a real alternative to fossil fuels.

Under President Trump’s energy deregulation, America is now the world’s top producer of oil and natural gas. The United States also has the resources to be the world’s  No. 1 producer of coal.

Abundant, low-cost, reliable energy provides American manufacturing with a decisive cost advantage over Germany and the rest of Europe, and over Japan and other East Asian competitors.

Affordable energy brings real benefits that significantly improve people’s lives. More than 6 million jobs have been created during this boom, with unemployment among blacks, Hispanics, Asians and youth already the lowest ever measured in American history.

The blue-collar boom has also created $12 trillion in wealth for Americans since Trump’s election, primarily through the skyrocketing stock market that began on Election Day 2016. The expectation of this boom was a primary reason Trump won in 2016, as blue-collar workers, the original core of the Democratic Party, flipped Republican in Iowa, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Wisconsin.

Democrats are committing a historic political blunder running in 2020 on reversing one of the primary drivers of President Trump’s blue-collar boom. Banning fossil fuels under the Green New Deal is a recipe for economic and political disaster.

Peter J. Ferrara is a senior fellow at The Heartland Institute and at the National Tax Limitation Foundation. He is also the Dunn Liberty Fellow in Economics at Kings College in New York.