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Toomey Warns Biden Admin. Pursuing ‘Solyndra’ Policy on Green Energy

As green energy advocates poured into Pennsylvania for a green energy summit in Pittsburgh, Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) was warning Keystone State businesses and homeowners: Prepare to get “Solyndra’d.”

An estimated 6,000 people rallied with President Biden’s energy secretary, former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm, on Wednesday, cheering her on at the Heinz History Center in Pittsburgh as she urged them to “Push, push, push to deploy, deploy, deploy” green energy technology. Granholm was in town to kick off the Global Clean Energy Action Forum and promote the Biden administration’s policy of pursuing net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by no later than 2050.

Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates and former Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry, who serves as Biden’s special envoy for climate, are also participating in the forum, which concludes on Friday.

Asked about the 2050 goal on a press call Wednesday, Toomey said, “It’s not a meaningful goal because they have no strategy for how we’re actually going to get there.”

Toomey said technology and innovation, not government regulation, are the path to lower carbon emissions, and he pointed to the fracking revolution as an example.

“We’ve replaced coal-fired electric power generation with natural gas-fired electric power generation, and that brought a drastic reduction in CO2,” Toomey explained. “You would think that the administration would be very pleased with that and would encourage more of that. But instead, they take this absurd notion that they have to be hostile to all fossil fuels.”

And if innovation is the solution, Toomey suggested, then government is likely to be part of the problem.

“I guarantee you the government isn’t going to figure out the technology,” Toomey said. “And the government sending out checks to politically favored companies isn’t going to get us there, any more than Solyndra did. That was a complete debacle by a previous administration.”

President Barack Obama gave $535 million in federal loan guarantees to Solyndra, a solar-panel manufacturer backed by a major Democratic donor. The company collapsed into bankruptcy not long after amid evidence the Obama administration bent the rules to approve the deal. 

In the green energy and healthcare spending bill known as the Inflation Reduction Act, Congress voted to spend a total of $362 billion in green energy subsidies, or more than 670 Solyndras.

And, Toomey added, the net impact of that spending will be negligible.

“Another thing that’s so ironic about [the Inflation Reduction Act] is it’s pitched as President Biden’s momentous and unprecedented climate bill. And the fact of the matter is, it’s going to do nothing for the climate,” Toomey said. “Don’t take my word for it. The UN uses the IPCC climate models, the gold standard for determining the effect policies will have on our climate. And if you use that model, and assume that everything Democrats passed with great fanfare is implemented as intended, the effect on the Earth’s surface temperature is less than three one-hundredths of one degree Fahrenheit seventy years from now.

“That’s essentially zero.”

In 2020, renewable energy sources generated about four percent of Pennsylvania’s electricity, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. One proposal being pushed at the Pittsburgh forum is accelerating the use of electric vehicles. As of the end of 2021, there were fewer than 27,000 EVs registered in the entire state.

“I noticed that California’s increasingly forcing people in the direction of buying electric vehicles at the very same time they’re saying ‘Oh, by the way — you can’t charge them at night because we don’t have enough electricity on the grid,'” Toomey said.

“The gross incompetence and mismanagement of this are shocking.”

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NAUGHTON: Let’s Be Rational About Electric Vehicles

Similar to most Americans, the high cost of gasoline is something I must consider as I move across the country. Either by car or airplane, it just costs more to get around.

Like clockwork, gas prices are also becoming politicized. Republicans want to blame President Biden, and the White House is trying to offer solutions that will do little to bring down gas prices. After all, the cost of a gallon of gas is mostly reflective of the price of a barrel oil, which is set on world markets and affected by everyone from the Saudis to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

With such unsavory forces in control of energy prices, it is only natural for the American people to demand answers from lawmakers about lowering gas prices.

But the harsh reality that many people don’t realize — or even acknowledge — is that our oil addiction is hard to break because we lack alternatives to replace petroleum that are cost-effective and secure.

One possibility offered, traditionally by progressive Democrats, is a full transition from gas-powered vehicles to electric vehicles, or EVs. Indeed, the Green New Deal touted by lawmakers like Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Rep. Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez of New York calls for “reaching 100 percent renewable energy for electricity and transportation by no later than 2030.”

It would be a wonderful thing for our planet, to walk away from petroleum and all drive EVs. But, we need to be honest about the challenges posed by EVs.

First, there are national security concerns. Specifically, China dominates the markets for rare earth metals, which are critical components for the batteries that power EVs. We don’t produce these mineral commodities — like lithium — in America. Even if we managed to tap into lithium resources domestically, China still controls cathode and battery manufacturing.

China would use this power over America as leverage to get us to bend to its will. Let’s not beat around the bush, China has become a totalitarian regime engaged in genocide. Beijing shows little respect for people’s basic human rights. With this in mind, do we want to both enrich China and depend on them to power our economy? Of course not.

Second, EVs are more expensive than gas-powered vehicles. How can we demand low-income Americans to spend more on their car or truck? If we want to subsidize the purchase to make an EV affordable for every single person, through tax credits or cash rewards, a good part of our nation’s budget will be dedicated to this endeavor.

Third, the American people are not in favor of going all EV. My organization recently commissioned a poll on this matter, and consider these findings:

—41 percent of respondents believe the shift toward EVs is happening and that additional federal investments are “not an effective use of taxpayer money.”

—When asked to rank federal spending priorities, funding for “increasing the number of electric vehicles” came in last, behind these more popular priorities (in order of favorability): “funding for ending childhood hunger,” “funding to fix our roads and bridges,” “funding for police training and hiring,” “funding to build K-12 schools,” “funding for wind and solar energy,” and “funding for public transportation.”

Our poll is clear: there is not the political will to spend billions of dollars to help people afford EVs. Think about this, every American without a driveway will need to have access to a publicly subsidized charger. How can the government possibly provide this charging capability to everyone? With skyrocketing inflation, Americans are simply trying to afford basic necessities. It’s no wonder EVs are lower on their immediate priority list.

Ultimately, I can foresee a future that is fully EV. Many of the challenges facing EVs could be resolved through innovation and smart government investments in clean technologies. But until we get there, let’s be realistic about EVs, and continue to support policies that help make gas-powered vehicles cleaner, and more fuel efficient.

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One Year Later: Lessons Learned from Legendary ‘Texas Freeze’

The soundbites and images were startling. Blackouts. Burst pipes. People dead from extreme cold and carbon monoxide poisoning. This week marks one year since the coldest weather in generations hit Texas.

A year later, energy policy experts in Pennsylvania and across the nation are looking for lessons to be learned from those failures.

“There were multiple errors, but green energy failed at a critical time, and we no longer had fossil fuels and baseload power systems to back them up,” says H. Sterling Burnett, Ph.D., a Texan serving as senior fellow on environmental policy for the Heartland Institute.

“What led to the crisis and the blackouts is 20 years of bad policies pushed by politicians on both sides of the aisle from Washington, D.C. and here in the state of Texas that were propping up one form of unreliable variable generation over another, which is good natural gas and clean coal thermal generation that has been diminished because of these market-distorting policies, subsidies if you will,” said Jason Isaac, a four-time Texas state representative now serving as director of Life: Powered at the Texas Public Policy Foundation (TPPF).

“That’s why we’ve seen this incredible growth in this variable generation that’s now a third of our grid in the state of Texas in wind or solar that we’re dependent on when the wind blows or the sun shines, and there’s no backup generation requirements for those sources of electricity generation,” he said.

Solar was virtually non-existent in terms of electricity generation at the time of the storm. Wind dropped to 1.5 percent of the electric generation.

“It’s, again, 33­­ percent of our grid,” said Isaac. “That’s unbelievable, and over 90 percent was coming from the other 66 percent of the grid, natural gas, coal, and nuclear.”

“There’s a reason we never had something like this before in the middle of winter,” said Burnett. “That’s because we never had so little reliable baseload power as part of our system.”

It should serve as a wake-up call for other states, especially at a time when federal and state legislators are pushing the Green New Deal and related measures.

“The national takeaway on the crisis that we experienced in Texas, the energy capital of the world, if you will, is that we need good, reliable natural gas, coal, and nuclear,” said Isaac.

The Sunrise Movement, a youth movement to “stop climate change and create millions of good jobs in the process,” sees things differently. Sunrise said in an email it is “building an army of young people” to make climate change an urgent priority across America.

“(We want to) end the corrupting influence of fossil fuel executives on our politics, and elect leaders who stand up for the health and wellbeing of all people,” according to its website.

And Sunrise has its eyes on Texas, where a primary election is scheduled for March 1.

“We have an opportunity to send our own — Jessica Cisneros and Greg Casar — to Congress to fight for us and win a Green New Deal,” Sunrise said in an email to supporters. Republicans, corporate Democrats, and Big Oil want you to forget what happened one year ago in Texas, but we’ll never forget.”

Pointing to the remarks from Sunrise, Isaac said they are laughable at best.

“The Green New Deal is about controlling everything we do in our lives and increasing the cost of energy, and expensive energy hurts the poor more than anyone else,” said Isaac. “If we had the Green New Deal here in Texas, our electric bills would be triple what they were, the reliability of electricity would be laughable, and deaths last year would have been much more horrendous than they already were.”

“Sunrise wants to double down on the policies that created the very problem,” said Burnett. “We had 200 people die last year during this weather.”

The indoor temperature of Burnett’s home was in the 50s after he lost power.

“The Sunrise Movement wants more wind and more solar, and that’s great, unless the wind stops blowing like it did last February and snow falls and covers all your solar panels,” said Burnett. “To be fair, the wind came back up, but by then, the turbines had frozen, (and) you don’t want turbines turning on and throwing icicles across highways.”

Isaac holds firm to his position on the need for natural gas, coal, and nuclear energy.

“Wind and solar is habitat and environment destroying technology that increases the cost of electricity, does nothing to improve the environment, and just winds up hurting the poor most,” says Isaac. “It increases the unreliability of our grid and the instability.”

It was a close call in Texas last year, one that should cause other states to wake up to what Isaac calls a “cult-like fascination with decarbonized electricity.”

“We were nearly four minutes away from a complete grid collapse because renewable energy was not producing any electricity,” says Isaac. “That would have been completely devastating to Texas. We would still be rebuilding today. Millions of people would have fled the state because of this, and just thousands of people would have died.”

“ERCOT (Electric Reliability Council of Texas) made some terrible decisions,” says Burnett. “After the power outage, they wanted to get the lights on immediately, so they said, ‘natural gas plants, you have to ramp up,’ but then they cut off power to switching stations for natural gas and for storage for natural gas, so there was no power heating the pipelines or the switches and the plants were using gas at an enormous rate, and those pipelines and switches froze.”

“That would not have happened with a coal plant because coal typically has six months of capacity sitting around in a stockpile,” says Burnett. “They’re not going to run out if the switching stations freeze, but those coal plants had closed, so there were multiple errors.”

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DelVal Dems Back Biden Bill That Adds to Debt, Gives Benefits to Undocumented Immigrants

U.S. Rep. Madeleine Dean says the ‘Build Back Better’ spending plan she voted for Friday is “paid-for legislation [that] will reduce the deficit, ease inflation, and transform the lives of millions of Pennsylvanians.”

U.S. Rep. Chrissy Houlahan says the bill “is fiscally disciplined” and claims a Congressional Budget Office analysis found it will reduce the deficit.

But nearly every economic review of the legislation, including the CBO analysis they both claim to rely on, says the bill will add billions in new debt. And the nonpartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget (CRFB) projects the actual cost of the bill is closer to $5 trillion.

That is just one aspect of the budget reconciliation bill passed on a straight partisan vote (Maine’s Rep. Jared Golden was the only Democratic “no” vote) that has received little attention from the media. Democrats say the Child Tax Credit monthly checks, increased healthcare subsidies, and taxpayer-funded pre-K for all will be popular with voters. And they may be right. But there are other details almost certain to appear in campaign ads next year:


Democrats in the Delaware Valley’s congressional delegation touted their votes when the House bill passed last week, even as the Congressional Budget Office released a report indicating the $1.75 trillion social spending bill could increase the deficit between $160 and $360 billion over ten years, despite Biden administration promises the spending will be covered by increased taxes.

And the CRFB points out the Democrats’ plan includes ten years of revenue but only includes spending on some of the largest items for five years — or even one. For example, the Child Tax Credit sending monthly checks to couples earning up to $150,000 costs $130 billion. But Democrats only include it in their 10-year plan for just one year. Assuming the checks don’t stop in 2024 — an election year– and instead last for the entire 1o years, the actual cost is an additional $1 trillion. None of which is paid for in the current plan.


Under the Trump administration, recipients of the monthly Child Tax Credit checks ($300 per child under age six and $250 for each child ages six to 17) had to have Social Security numbers. Under the Build Back Better bill backed by DelVal Democrats, that requirement is gone, allowing many more people in the U.S. illegally to collect the taxpayer-funded benefit.

The bill also includes a 10-year “amnesty-lite” program in the form of work permits, Social Security numbers, eligibility for welfare benefits, and the ability to get a driver’s license for some 4 or 6 million illegal immigrants. The Washington Post calls it “the largest mass-legalization program for undocumented immigrants in U.S. history.”


The Biden budget lifts the cap on state and local tax (SALT) deductions for federal filers from $10,000 to $80,000. Few Americans — and very few Granite Staters — pay $80,000 in state and local taxes. According to the left-leaning Tax Policy Center, the top 20 percent of earners would reap more than 96 percent of the benefits of a SALT repeal, and the top one percent of all earners would see 57 percent of benefits.


Lifting the SALT deduction cap helps subsidize the costs of high local taxes in places like Massachusetts, New York and California. In Pennsylvania, 91 percent of people take the standard deduction, so only 9 percent of Pennsylvanians could possibly benefit from raising the SALT cap, and those who do benefit from it are almost always in the highest tax brackets.


Public pressure killed the Biden administration’s plans to increase bank reporting requirements to reach more lower-income earners. However, House Democrats did vote to drastically increase the size of the IRS in hopes of collecting more tax revenues.

Democrats voted to add $88 billion of new funding for the IRS, including $45 billion dedicated to enforcement and $4 billion to administer green energy initiatives. The biggest expense will be some 80,000 new IRS agents to conduct audits. The revenue target set by the legislation is $400 billion in additional tax collections over ten years. Given that high-income earners tend to have tax attorneys handling their finances, many observers believe this $40 billion a year will come from small business owners and upper-middle-class individuals.

Democrats dismiss this data, arguing the benefits of the bill outweigh any problems.

“For too long, too many hardworking families in Chester and Berks counties have been struggling to stay afloat – and the pandemic further exposed the systemic issues that are shrinking the middle class. But today, we took action to make our economy work for everyone,” Houlahan said.

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