A recent Time magazine story displays an example of how the “green” industry has used campaign funds to garner political support and subsidies. The following is one telling quote from the article:
[Dick] Cheney’s task force, which operated almost entirely in secret, produced $14 billion largely for drillers and miners in 2005. Obama’s greener advisers have helped produce six times that amount, much of it for the comparatively smaller reusable-energy industry.
One need not think long to name all of the incentives government has for individuals and businesses to be more “green.” They range from more innocous programs like “Energy Star” labeling to subsidies and credits that are often written into the tax code and energy bills. John Doerr, the green lobbyist who is the large focus of the Time story, has been pushing for “Home Star,” a new proposal for tax credits to incentivize retrofitting houses to lower their energy use.
A less noticed aspect of this push is the financial benefit to those individual investors and companies with stakes in the success of “environmentally friendly” products and the “green” movement. While many see green energy and products as a worthwhile endeavor, the cozy relationship between lobbyists and government is something to remain skeptical of. There may be a fine line between the good intentions of “green” supporters and their intention to make a profit.
Take for example this passage from the Time article:
And Doerr has done O.K. too. In the past year, his green-energy companies have received loan guarantees from the Department of Energy, smart-grid contracts funded by stimulus spending and, in the case of one solar firm, more than $100 million in federal research tax credits. At a forum in November, Doerr, who generally casts his interest in clean energy as altruistic, did not shade his opinion. ‘God bless the Obama Administration and the U.S. government,’ he said. ‘We have really got the A-team now working on green innovation in our country.’
Of course, if government was reduced to its constitutionally persmissable size, lobbyists gaining favors wouldn’t be much of a problem. But reducing the size of government to that degree would likely be harder than getting Al Gore to renounce the existence of man-made climate change.