Commentary

General Assembly prepares to waste $150k on new study that’s already been done

As countless observers have noted recently, there’s nothing like a good natural disaster to make socialists out of conservative, anti-government politicians. If you doubt this, check out the spectacle of hypocritical Texas politicians like Ted Cruz demanding hurricane relief dollars for their state after having opposed similar relief appropriations for those impacted by recent past hurricanes like Sandy and Matthew.

Here’s another thing that turns conservatives into hypocritical tax and spend bureaucrats: their hopeless addiction to big money from the fossil fuel industry. As explained in some detail here, when one includes the astounding environmental and health costs associated with fossil fuel consumption, the effective U.S. public subsidy to that industry amounts to thousands of dollars per American, per year and renders subsidies to the renewable energy industry minuscule, by comparison.

Here in North Carolina this week, we have another classic example of the kind of wasteful public spending that the fossil fuel industry and its apologists in public office are responsible for. As the good people at the NC Sustainable Energy Association explained in a release yesterday, the North Carolina General Assembly is about to spend $150,000 on a study of the wind industry that’s already been done.

You see, conservative ideologues and fossil fuel apologists in the General Assembly hate the idea of wind farms that might help ween the nation from its suicidal addictions so they’re doing everything in their power to stop it. As the release reminds us, lawmakers inserted a provision into a last-minute bill this summer that imposes an 18-month moratorium on new wind energy projects.  Now, it’s embarked upon the wasteful and unnecessary process of studying eastern North Carolina military operations in order — it clearly hopes — to find more excuses to delay win projects. This is from the NCSEA release:

Opponents of the wind moratorium are concerned that the study and resulting maps could be used to permanently ban wind energy projects and limit private property rights of numerous landowners currently seeking to lease their land for two proposed wind projects in rural Chowan and Tyrrell counties near the coast.

Furthermore, the U.S. Department of Defense, Federal Aviation Association (FAA) and nearby military bases already have an extensive review process for all energy development and must approve every proposed wind project, turbine-by-turbine, to ensure there is no conflict between any military operations and the more than 1,000 existing wind projects across 41 U.S. states. The DoD Siting Clearinghouse was established in 2010.

“Upon evaluation of the NC General Assembly’s new wind energy RFP, it appears taxpayers are being asked to fund a study that has already been completed by entities such as Seymour Johnson AFB, the US Department of Defense, and Federal Aviation Administration,” said Allison Eckley, NCSEA’s Communications Manager.

The bottom line: Conservative lawmakers are wasting tax dollars on an unnecessary study driven by the demands of the fossil fuel industry and climate change deniers bent on doing everything they can to stop the spread of renewable and sustainable industry. As in so many other areas, it’s sobering proof that conservatives aren’t really anti-government and are, in fact, delighted to expand government spending when it abets their ideological objectives.

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