Solar Panels Are the New Al Qaeda

Obama Administration

Lead by the fossil-fuel lovin’ Koch boys, conservatives have launched a no-holds-barred war on renewable energy.

…The American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC, a membership group for conservative state lawmakers, recently drafted model legislation that targeted net metering. The group also helped launch efforts by conservative lawmakers in more than half a dozen states to repeal green energy mandates.

“State governments are starting to wake up,” Christine Harbin Hanson, a spokeswoman for Americans for Prosperity, the advocacy group backed by billionaire industrialists Charles and David Koch, said in an email. The organization has led the effort to overturn the mandate in Kansas, which requires that 20% of the state’s electricity come from renewable sources.

They’re trying to destroy the solar panel industry, because freedom. Devin Drum writes,

We’ve now entered an era in which affinity politics has gotten so toxic that even motherhood and apple pie are fair targets if it turns out that liberals happen to like apple pie. There are dozens of good reasons that we should be building out solar as fast as we possibly can—plummeting prices, overdependence on foreign oil, poisonous petrostate politics, clean air—but yes, global warming is one of those reasons too. And since global warming has now entered the conservative pantheon of conspiratorial hoaxes designed to allow liberals to quietly enslave the economy, it means that conservatives are instinctively opposed to anything even vaguely related to stopping it. As a result, fracking has become practically the holy grail of conservative energy policy, while solar, which improves by leaps and bounds every year, is a sign of decay and creeping socialism.

Does it help that the Koch brothers happen to be oil barons who don’t want to see the oil industry lose any of the massive government support it’s gotten for decades? It sure doesn’t hurt, does it?

If there’s anything that liberals and conservatives ought to be able to agree on, it’s the benefit of renewable power. It’s as close to a no-brainer as you can get. But President Obama made green programs part of his stimulus package, and that was that. When tea-party hysteria took over the conservative movement, renewable energy became one of its pariahs. Griping about Solyndra is ancient history. Today’s conservatives oppose renewable energy for the same reason they’ve gone nuts over Benghazi and the IRS and Syrian rebels: to show solidarity to the cause. Welcome to modern American politics.

If anything, solar panels ought to appeal to American individualism, because you can not only generate your own energy but you can sell energy you don’t need back to the grid. Righties may hate taxes, but apparently they love their utility bills.

Paul Krugman: “To reuse an old line from Brad DeLong, at this point right-wing paranoia is worse than you can possibly imagine, even if you take into account the fact that it’s worse than you can possibly imagine.”

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  1. joanr16  •  Apr 22, 2014 @1:19 pm

    The organization has led the effort to overturn the mandate in Kansas

    Ah ha! Now I know why my brother, who lives in Kansas and is well-informed about local politics, went off on an anti-Koch and anti-ALEC rant last weekend. Surprised the crap out of me. I take it as further evidence that the GOP and its tentacles (Kochs, NRA, anti-gay, anti-Obamacare, you name it) have lost the middle, now and forever.

  2. wmd  •  Apr 22, 2014 @1:22 pm

    Minor edit – It’s Kevin Drum, not Devin.

    I think the way it is sold to the 27% is thatsolar is being pushed with “your tax dollars” and wouldn’t be competitive in a fair market. The massive “exploration credits” and other subsidies to big oil are never mentioned because the myth that the market is fair must be maintained at all costs.

  3. c u n d gulag  •  Apr 22, 2014 @1:25 pm

    Maybe things would change for the better if President Obama used “reverse-psychosis (sic),” and said that he was the most anti-choice, fossil-fuel-loving, “BANGETTY-BANG-BANG-BANG!!!” gun-lover, who also wanted to lower taxes on the rich, and duke it out with Iran and Russia.

    It’s worth a shot!
    What have we got to lose?

  4. Stephen Stralka  •  Apr 22, 2014 @3:26 pm

    Even calling renewable energy “as close to a no-brainer as you can get” is an understatement. Even if you don’t want to talk about climate change, you still have to face the fact that the fossil fuels are going to run out. Of course there are peak oil deniers too, but you don’t need to be a petroleum geologist to see the end of oil approaching. (Sort of like how you don’t have to be a climate scientist anymore to see climate change happening. You just have to look out the window.)

    You just look at something like the Deepwater Horizon and ask, Why was that such a huge disaster? Because they were drilling a mile under the water’s surface. Why were they drilling a mile under the surface? Because we already got all the oil that’s easy to get.

    Same with fracking, or whatever other wonderful new technologies we’re coming up with for extracting fossil fuels. What are we going to do when we’re all fracked out?

  5. joanr16  •  Apr 22, 2014 @3:41 pm

    you still have to face the fact that the fossil fuels are going to run out

    That sounds reasonable to you and me, but to those who are billionaires thanks to fossil fuels, it means: “Just think how much we’re going to be able to charge for the last drops of oil before society collapses!”

    And that sentence scans like the old Far Side cartoon, “What we say to dogs” vs. “What dogs hear”: oil mongers only hear how much we’re going to be able to charge and miss the rest about society collapsing. Probably doesn’t apply to them, anyway; they’re rich. [s]

  6. c u n d gulag  •  Apr 22, 2014 @4:23 pm

    “Probably doesn’t apply to them, anyway; they’re rich.”

    And they’ll make some mighty rich meals, for us poors!
    Just make sure that you cook your rich sociopath well-done – those vermin are sure to be full of all sorts of vermin.

  7. joanr16  •  Apr 22, 2014 @5:01 pm


    Oh noes… it’s a cookbook!!!

    Or kochbook, if you prefer.

  8. erinyes  •  Apr 22, 2014 @7:27 pm

    Future energy wars alone should be the best argument for green energy.

  9. c u n d gulag  •  Apr 23, 2014 @6:24 am

    With them, it’ll already be well-aged swine.
    I’d make them into a stew, to serve more “poors.”

  10. uncledad  •  Apr 23, 2014 @7:24 am

    “Righties may hate taxes, but apparently they love their utility bills”

    Well yes the utility bill money goes to their billionaire idols, taxes just go to that colored fella!
    I saw some shmuck on msnbc last night suggesting that we need to give over the renewable energy markets to the same thieves that control the fossil fuel industry, cause they won’t play nice unless they get all the toys?????

  11. ronspri  •  Apr 23, 2014 @4:32 pm

    I amazes me how many people can be so seriously opposed to the 21st century. Why continue to fight wars over oil? Why continue to pay ever increasing prices? Why continue to use dirty energy if we don’t have to? You would think if you fancied yourself a leader and innovator you would be focused on leading the way and innovating in your country. They are all flag and no substance.
    What if we focused on developing individual units that power your home, your business, your car. If you don’t have to pay a utility company, well there’s your freedom boys. Take a search if you don’t think all of this is well down the road. It’s not “20 years away”. It’s right now. There is absolutely no reason this country should not be in an all out race to the top on sustainable/free energy as a great nation…..except for that sticky little thing about the oil companies assets. I see why they don’t want to let them go but they are precisely the ones that need to innovate a little harder if they want to stay relevant in the world of energy on a planet with over 7 billion people.

  12. Badtux  •  Apr 25, 2014 @11:53 am

    There is in fact an argument to be made against net metering, which I made on my own web site: net metering shifts the cost of maintaining the electrical grid onto those people who are least capable of absorbing those costs. That is, onto renters, who generally are poorer than homeowners, and onto those who are too poor to buy solar panels.

    Net metering in effect overthrows a century of public policy that electricity is a public good that should be provided to the public at equal cost regardless of their income, home owner or renter status, or actual cost of grid access at a partiular location. It makes the rich richer, and the poor poorer. From an income redistribution point of view it’s inverse Robin Hood. Yes, we need to encourage solar power, but if we’re going to have net metering, we’re going to have to do something about that reverse Robin Hood aspect, or all we’re going to do is cause the poor to pay increasingly higher and higher electrical rates to offset the money that utilities are no longer getting from the rich. And that’s a problem.