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Government’s Dismal Energy Investment Track Record
In an economically free society, it would not be the role of the government to make specific investments in energy or any other sector, but instead to uphold economic freedom and let voluntary exchanges between producers and consumers determine whether or not a particular firm will be profitable. In the specific case of Solyndra, our federal government decided to intervene in the market with a $535 million loan guarantee, and as we all know, Solyndra went bankrupt.
In a Nov. 11 article in the Washington Post entitled “Before Solyndra, a long history of failed government energy projects” Steven Mufson examined a few of the most egregious examples of bad investments that result from government believing it is better at allocating scarce resources than private investors. The history shows failure after failure.
The Clinch River Breeder Reactor. The Synthetic Fuels Corporation. The hydrogen car. Clean coal. These are but a few examples spanning several decades — a graveyard of costly and failed projects.
Not a single one of these much-ballyhooed initiatives is producing or saving a drop or a watt or a whiff of energy, but they have managed to burn through far more taxpayer money than the ill-fated Solyndra. An Energy Department report in 2008 estimated that the federal government had spent $172 billion since 1961 on basic research and the development of advanced energy technologies.
What does Washington have to show for these investments? And should the government even be in the business of promoting particular energy technologies?
You can read the entire article here.