False Promise of Green Energy shows proponents' lack of evidence


ARLINGTON - A cleaner environment. Gobs of jobs. Better quality of life. Green energy promises an alluring future, almost Nirvana like.

There’s just one problem, according to Roger Meiners, the Goolsby Distinguished Professor of Economics at The University of Texas at Arlington College of Business: the lack of credible evidence that any of those goals can be realized.

Meiners, chair of the UT Arlington Economics Department, explains his theory in his new book, “The False Promise of Green Energy,” co-authored by Andrew Morriss of the University of Alabama; economist William Bogart, president of Maryville College and Andrew Dorchak, head of reference at the Case Western University School of Law.

“It’s certainly a topical issue and one that is getting a lot of investment,” Meiners said. “A lot of taxpayer money is being wasted because of political ties and on friends of politicians. We enumerate those things in this book.”

“The False Promise of Green Energy” offers a nearly unprecedented evaluation of claims by green energy and green jobs proponents that such emphasis can improve the economy and the environment, almost risk-free, by spending billions of dollars.

“Green energy projects are rarely pure research that could generate breakthroughs,” Meiners said. “We looked at the issue with the critical eye of economic analysis. There are too many unanswered questions, too many aspects of green energy that have not been checked.”

The book’s authors explain that energy is at the heart of the economy. Nearly half of our energy is used indirectly in the production of food, medicines and consumer goods. Anything that increases the price of energy also increases the prices of goods that use energy. If energy costs increase because of forced use of more expensive renewable energy, not only would the price of electricity rise, but so would the price of food, medicines and consumer goods. Those price increases would disproportionately affect the poorest, they say.

In one example, the authors look at the federal Car Allowance Rebate System or “Cash for Clunkers” program. The program allowed owners of fuel-inefficient vehicles to trade in their “clunkers” for more efficient cars. The aim was cleaner air. However, green energy proponents never calculated how much energy is expended in manufacturing a new car, the authors said.

In the end, the energy used to build the new cars consumers could buy with the rebate exceeded the savings of the clunkers’ emissions, the book says.

Also, the authors say, the clunkers program directed auto dealers to scrap trade-ins. In the past, the book says, older model vehicles were shipped to foreign countries, where they replaced even older model vehicles with less efficient exhaust systems.

The book also describes staggering costs of green energy programs advocated by special interest groups. The federal government committed $62 billion in direct spending and $20 billion in tax incentives to green jobs programs as part of the 2009 stimulus bill, the authors note. Many of these funds must be repaid with interest by future taxpayers.

“The False Promise of Green Energy” also contrasts energy production realities and energy use in the United States and the rest of the world with proposals from green jobs advocates.

“Our book shows the recklessness of trying to transform society with borrowed money instead of allowing free-market economies to will out,” Meiners said. “Those competitive forces allow for greater environmental quality and energy efficiencies, not government programs and grants.”

Meiners is among the high-quality faculty researchers and educators at The University of Texas at Arlington, a research institution of nearly 33,800 students in the heart of North Texas. Visit www.uta.edu to learn more.


Herb Booth, hbooth@uta.edu, 817-272-7075