Next Time Someone Claims There’s a “Free Market” for Energy

Next Time Someone Claims There’s a “Free Market” for Energy


…or that renewable energy “can’t make it without subsidies,” or that “government shouldn’t pick ‘winners and losers,” or that fossil fuels are the “choice of the market,” or that the Clean Power Plan is “too expensive,” or some other utterly false nonsense, simply show them this article and laugh. By the way, those $5.3 trillion in subsidies for fossil fuels don’t count “negative externalities,” such as the enormous health (cancer, asthma, etc.) and environmental (acid rain, global warming, oil spills, fracking damage, etc.) costs associated with fossil fuels, but which fossil fuels don’t incorporate into their price thanks to extremely lax government policies. The $5.3 trillion in subsidies for fossil fuels also don’t count indirect subsidies, such as massive government subsidization/encouragement of automobile-oriented development, military expenditures needed to defend oil supply lines/sources, etc, etc. Add all that up, and it comes to many, many times more than $5.3 trillion, to the point where fossil fuels would be utterly noncompetitive (think $10-$20/gallon or more gasoline if all these costs were incorporated) with clean energy.

  • lowkell

    Despite that massively tilted playing field in favor of fossil fuels, it looks like clean energy is winning anyway. I believe it’s called “the market at work.” LOL

  • Elaine in Roanoke

    If we are serious about controlling greenhouse gases and de-carbonizing our economy, economics tells us how:

    1. Add cost to what you want to get rid of. That is, put a tax on carbon emissions. Demand will drop. Allow the worshippers of the free market to prove that the market can produce good results some of the time.

    2. Privatize the costs of fossil fuel production. For example, make Duke Energy pay upfront for the safe disposal of coal ash. Don’t just smack their wrist with a $2.5 million fine for trashing the Dan River, as the mis-named Virginia Department of Environmental Quality is proposing.

    3. Reward through the tax system those who lessen their use of fossil fuels, not those who produce fossil fuels.