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The Institute for Energy Research is a not-for-profit organization that conducts intensive research and analysis on the functions, operations, and government regulation of global energy markets.
Earlier this month E&E News ran a story by Jean Chemnick on Senator Mark Begich (D-Alaska) and the steering committee he chaired on climate change. Yet as Begich’s hemming and hawing show, the new way to justify inefficient regulations, mandates, subsidies, and taxes on energy is to tell taxpayers it makes sense on fiscal grounds. We are a bit confused by Begich’s reference (quoted in the article above) to “the state’s ambitious renewable energy standard for utilities,” since according to the Department of Energy, Alaska doesn’t have a renewable portfolio standard (RPS) the way some other states do.


Begich denied that he was a supporter of a carbon tax (a dubious claim, given his voting record) and then had the audacity to suggest that he embraced government mandates and subsidies in the energy sector in order to save taxpayers money. He said he was proud, for example, that Anchorage had mounted the most ambitious LED conversion project for streetlights of any city in the United States while he was mayor and that city found a way to sell captured methane from the city dump to the U.S. Begich and other supporters of more government involvement in energy know that the American public overwhelmingly does not want a carbon tax (see question #15 in this recent survey) or any other massively expensive scheme that officials assure us will avert even worse climate change damages. Perhaps Begich was referring to the broader category of government-facilitated financial incentives for renewables, perhaps he was simply mistaken, or perhaps the reporter misunderstood his actual remarks (since it wasn’t a direct quote).


As we’ll see, Begich has not yet begun to save taxpayers money—we’ll suggest some better ideas.



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