2013 Ryan Republican Budget likes clean energy even less than 2012 version

Last week, Rep. Paul Ryan, the Republican Budget Committee chairman, released a federal budget proposal that doubles down on the idea that we should subsidize fossil fuel companies at the expense of clean energy.  I’d love to be more impartial than that, but if you get into the weeds on this thing, I don’t know what other conclusion can be drawn.

Not that there’s much new here from the same effort Rep. Ryan released this time last year.  (I'm saving myself the time of writing something new and just linking to last year’s blogs on the topic.  Honestly everything still applies.)

In fact, comparing this year’s budget proposal to last year’s version, it’s eye-opening what little is new and what language has been removed.  Nothing highlights how much this is an exercise in political theater more than seeing much of the same language cut and pasted word for word from the previous year, as though twelve months didn’t just happen (I’m talking to you rapid scale-up of domestic oil and gas extraction).  Or the editorial tweaks of certain terms and phrases that must test better.

See for yourself.  Below is a comparison of this year’s opening language to last year.  I had to do a bit of moving text around and edit some boilerplate/process language to avoid running too long, but otherwise, this is a pretty simple cut and paste.

And here’s the amazing thing.  Rep. Ryan has done the seeming impossible.  He’s made last year’s version look moderate in comparison.  Studies and anecdotes are repurposed in an overblown and misleading fashion to attack clean energy.  In fact, there’s not a single positive statement about clean energy…the one polite statement about renewable energy from last year has been completely excised.    

It’s frustrating and unfortunate – boosting clean energy should really be a bipartisan exercise…I mean, don’t take it from me, take it from 2011 Rep. Ryan:

“environmental stewardship and economic growth are not mutually exclusive goals”

Comparing and Contrasting 2011 Rep. Ryan with the 2012 Version

(italics is a removal of language from 2011; bold is new language added in 2012.  Otherwise, it’s the exact same language from both years.  Also, I couldn’t bring myself to cut and paste the studies used as “evidence” in this proposal.  Nothing against the studies, but they’re being exaggerated or obfuscated disingenously.  So I’m linking to refutations instead.)

Boosting American energy resources:

Too great a percentage of America’s vast natural resources remain locked behind bureaucratic barriers and red tape. This budget removes moratoriums on safe, responsible energy exploration in the United States, ends Washington policies that drive up gas prices, and unlocks American energy production to help lower costs, create jobs, and reduce dependence on foreign oil.

[Eliminating welfare for energy companies] Scale Back Corporate Subsidies in the Energy Industry:

Since the start of the current administration, total outlays in Function 270 have increased by almost 390 percent. The President has [promoted] installed a heavy-handed compliance culture [brimming with] dependent on regulations and [reckless] spending on [government-appointed winners and losers] administration-favored constituencies. Regulations have [extracted] cost people and small businesses some $1.75 trillion per year, according to a report from the Small Business Administration, including $281 billion for environmental regulations that disproportionately hit small businesses. The President has also stifled domestic energy production by blocking or delaying production both onshore and offshore, destroying jobs and idling American energy sources. As the administration took action to stifle private-sector development of domestic energy resources, it dramatically increased funding for favored energy sectors. The stimulus alone allocated $80 billion of taxpayers’ dollars specifically for politically favored renewable-energy interests.

The results are plain to see: gasoline prices have more than doubled since the President took office and the administration has only created additional barriers for needed capital investment and job creation.

Burdensome and ineffective regulations on businesses [in the service of dubious environmental goals] have driven up the prices of many products and services. Misleading use of the innovative efficient lighting prize. Misleading use of a 2011 Congressional Research Service that merely highlighted the difficulty in measuring green jobs.  

[To stop Washington’s policies that are driving up gas prices, and to expand American energy production and create more American jobs, the new House majority launched the American Energy Initiative earlier this year. This initiative provides a critical check on policies that make it more difficult to reduce dependence on fossil fuels from foreign nations. It scales back spending on government bureaucracies seeking to impose a job-destroying national energy tax. It assumes increased revenues from bonus bids, rents, royalties, and fees as a result of lifting moratoriums and bans on safe, environmentally responsible exploration for domestic energy supplies. And it encourages the development of American-made renewable and alternative energy sources, including nuclear, wind, solar, and more, affirming the position that environmental stewardship and economic growth are not mutually exclusive goals.]

The resolution provides sufficient funding for essential government missions, including energy security and basic research and development. It recommends paring back spending in areas of duplication and non-core functions, such as applied and commercial research and development projects best left to the private sector. For example, renewable projects have received substantial subsidies. Misleading use of EIA subsidy study to argue that clean energy has been oversubsidized compared to fossil fuels.

[Ultimately, the best energy policy is one that encourages robust competition and innovation to ensure the American people an affordable and stable supply of energy] The budget aims to roll back such Federal intervention and [expensive] corporate welfare spending [directed to the President’s allied industries] across energy sectors. [Instead, it would promote policies aimed at reliable energy, lower energy prices, greater revenue generation through prosperity, and market based solutions to the goal of sustainable energy..]

...the 2012 Ryan budget then closes on three "Illustrative Policy Options" which will have no measurable impact on the budget - rescinding borrowing authority for clean energy loans and removing one (1) oil subsidy.  And scene.

If we followed this budget proposal, we'd be allowing fossil fuel companies, entrenched special interests, and their supporters in Congress to block our progress on clean energy and take our country in a direction Americans don’t want to go.  

Instead, why don't we focus instead on those technologies that will allow us to lead the global clean energy economy (you know, the one China is investing trillions of dollars in), and find ways to secure American leadership in homegrown renewable energy, drive economic growth and jobs, and provide a cleaner, healthier life for us and our children. 

Or as per last year's Ryan Budget:

"This initiative...encourages the development of American-made renewable and alternative energy sources, including nuclear, wind, solar, affirming the position that environmental stewardship and economic growth are not mutually exclusive goals."