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January 17, 2023

Biden’s Green Energy Winners and Losers

The ultimate goal of the administration’s war on natural gas is to dictate the way you live your life.

We told you last week about the Biden administration’s proposed ban on gas stoves, a trial balloon that was quickly popped by massive public outcry. But such a ban wouldn’t have been completely out of the blue. In fact, it would’ve mirrored prohibitions already in place in Berkeley, San Francisco, and New York City as well as a statewide ban proposed by New York Governor Kathy Hochul.

The gas stove issue, though, points out a larger question: While America continues to produce an increasing amount of natural gas, it appears the federal government and the radical green lobby (but we repeat ourselves) only want to use natural gas as the backup source for creating electricity when the wind doesn’t blow and the sun doesn’t shine. But millions of Americans belong to a longstanding natural gas distribution system — or, in more rural areas, keep their propane tanks full — and depend on it for their heating and cooking needs.

“Save money while fighting climate change,” said Joe Biden as he reminded Americans that last year’s so-called Inflation Reduction Act allowed for billions of dollars’ worth of tax credits for things like electric cars, solar panels for home use, or — most important for this narrative — electric appliances. But changing over from gas to electric isn’t quite as easy as just buying the appliance, since most homes currently on gas would need a new 220-volt outlet installed to accommodate an electric stove.

That additional cost would also be eligible for the credit, but there’s a much larger caveat the proponents of these tax credits fail to mention: For the purchase of electric appliances or replacement of furnaces and other such equipment, the credits are non-refundable. So for those who sink $10,000 into a project expecting a $3,000 credit, they may be disappointed to find a much smaller net result based on their initial tax liability. Moreover, according to the IRS, these credits only apply in the year the improvements are made and cannot be carried over.

“Obviously, this is not necessarily your bread-and-butter, blue-collar worker who is going to be taking advantage of a lot of these credits,” noted Heritage Foundation analyst Preston Brashers. “The idea of putting in a lot more money for weatherization or solar panels on your home … is a little bit out of reach for a lot of folks.” But for those who can take advantage of it, the government’s created a brand-new way to virtue signal at their expense.

Meanwhile, Elon Musk and his friends at Tesla are thankful about another government carve-out that will benefit them as well as Big Agriculture. Enacted in response to a potential crisis that never came — because improvements in fracking technology dispensed with the fallacy of “peak oil” 15 years ago — ethanol subsidies as expressed by the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) have long outlived any usefulness they had but continue to hang around because no one wants to upset Big Corn and sink their chances at becoming president.

Tesla and other electric car makers, including the Big Three, stand to benefit from new RFS rules making them a beneficiary of the same marketplace that already extorts a fee from small refiners that can’t make “advanced” biofuels. It will be another wealth transfer from a redheaded stepchild of an industry to the fair-haired golden boy of EV manufacture, while the rest of us pay more at the pump and endure shortages during the summer driving season. With these rules, $5-a-gallon gas won’t be a thing of the past. We recently called this “an income redistribution scheme for the ages.”

The Wall Street Journal editorial board nailed the net effect of all this new government red tape: “There really is a culture war coming over gas stoves, and everything else involving fossil fuels, because climate has become for the left a matter of core cultural identity. Progressives want to impose their values on the lifestyle of everyone else, including in the kitchen. If subsidies don’t work, coercion follows. When they can’t win the political debate, they resort to brute government force.”

Unless and until Beltway leftists come to their senses, be warned: If you own anything that’s powered by either gasoline or natural gas, the government is striving to eventually make it difficult, if not impossible, to utilize. As its latest foray into green energy mandates shows, it’s more than happy to browbeat you into conformity.

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