Right Hooks

Green Industry Drowning in Economy Awash With Cheap Oil

The struggling oil industry is eating the green industry for lunch.

Political Editors · Mar. 2, 2016

For an industry with its own problems, the oil industry sure is eating the green industry for lunch. For a little over a year now, the price of oil has skimmed at a low $30 a barrel, making everything from gasoline to plastic manufacturing cheaper than it has in a while. The development of fracking brought this about. It was a development the government nor the investors of Tesla anticipated. Government poured subsidy after subsidy into solar energy, ethanol, etc., in preparation of the day when the price of oil would climb higher than an oil geyser. But that day won’t come for a while, and Tesla is left with an electric car that only makes economic sense to drive if a barrel of oil goes for $350 a barrel, according to an editorial by Investor’s Business Daily.

If the United States was a completely free market, it would quickly correct itself. But because the government wanted to incubate the fledgling green energy industries, Americans are left on the hook, both as taxpayers and consumers. Investor’s Business Daily’s editorial board writes, “The Institute for Energy Research points out that electricity costs have been rising about 3% per year, even as the prices of coal and natural gas (which provide about 70% of our electricity) have been falling. The reason for the discrepancy is that electricity production from wind and solar power are two to three times more expensive.”

Meanwhile the recycling industry, which sorts plastics, papers and aluminum cans and sells the products back to manufacturers, also finds itself struggling in a commodities market where it’s cheaper to use pure products in manufacturing than reuse a city’s waste. The oil industry has steadily lost jobs in 2015, but it has also opened up the possibility that we will have enough oil to last decades, even centuries — and regulators are left behind.

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