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Ecopocrisy

The Wall Street Journal opines on the ridiculous hypocrisy of Northeastern Democrats who attempt to block the passage of the Cape Wind project, located in Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket. The project boasts a planned “130 towers [which] could meet 75% of the region’s electricity needs and reduce carbon emissions by some 734,000 tons every year.” Of course, there’s a flip side to that cost -effectiveness coin. Keep reading.

Then there is the political saga, with the Kennedy family as the Hyannis Port Sopranos, supplying the muscle. While Ted Kennedy was castigating President Bush for destroying the environment, the Senator was working furiously behind the Congressional scenes to kill Cape Wind. He even had the inspiration of getting former GOP colleague Ted Stevens of Alaska to slip wording into a spending bill that would have handed a veto to then-Governor Mitt Romney, another aesthetically minded opponent. Robert Kennedy Jr., a Time magazine “hero of the planet,” tried to get the Sound designated as a national marine sanctuary to bar development.

Incredibly enough, this political sabotage has so far failed. And last week the Interior Department issued its long-awaited regulatory study, mostly finding “negligible” environmental impact — apart from a “moderate” impact on the scenery. If the Obama Administration signs off, construction could begin next year.

Mr. Kennedy blustered that the report was rushed out: amusing, considering it runs to 2,800 pages. Bill Delahunt, the windy Cape Democrat, also denounced the action as “a $2 billion project that depends on significant taxpayer subsidies while potentially doubling power costs for the region.”

Good to see the Congressman now recognizes the limitations of green tech, such as its tendency to boost consumer electricity prices — but his makeover as taxpayer champion is a bit belated. Green energy has been on the subsidy take for years, including in 2005 when Mr. Delahunt was calling for “an Apollo project for alternative energy sources, for hybrid engines, for biodiesel, for wind and solar and everything else.” The reality is that all such projects are only commercially viable because of political patronage.

Tufts economist Gilbert Metcalf ran the numbers and found that the effective tax rate for wind is minus-163.8%. In other words, every dollar a wind firm spends is subsidized to the tune of 64 cents from the government. The Energy Information Administration estimates that wind receives $23.37 in government benefits per megawatt hour — compared to, say, 44 cents for coal. Despite these taxpayer crutches, wind only provides a little under 1% of U.S. net electric generation.