ARLINGTON - A cleaner environment. Gobs of
jobs. Better quality of life. Green energy promises an alluring future, almost
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
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
“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.
The University of Texas at Arlington is an Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action employer.