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Grassley Wonders About McContradiction on Energy Subsidies

By Matthew Yglesias on October 25, 2008 at 3:04 pm

"Grassley Wonders About McContradiction on Energy Subsidies"

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Nice of someone outside the green community to observe that John McCain’s hatred of subsidies doesn’t seem to extend to nuclear energy:

A senior Republican lawmaker has questioned John McCain’s energy proposals, including a plan to build 45 nuclear plants by 2030, given the Republican presidential nominee’s resistance to government subsidies.

Chuck Grassley, the Iowa senator, who has been a staunch supporter of federal subsidies for ethanol production and supports expansion of nuclear power, suggested in an interview with the Financial Times that the Arizona lawmaker’s views on federal subsidies on energy production were inconsistent.

Of course Grassley’s position, though consistent, is consistently wrong. The mere fact that subsidies for nuclear power are a bad idea doesn’t make ethanol subsidies a good idea. What we ought to be doing with energy is putting a price on carbon, which would serve as a de facto subsidy to low-carbon energy sources. That would include nuclear, along with renewables. And if ethanol boosters’ claims about ethanol are true, ethanol would also benefit, though more realistic assessments of the net carbon impact of ethanol make US-produced corn ethanol look very bad. There’s an okay case to be made for additional subsidies, over and above carbon pricing, for truly clean electricity like solar and wind. I think there’s also an decent case to be made that we should be taxing the negative externalities of dirty energy and beyond that mostly letting the chips fall where they may.

At the moment, of course, we’re actually plowing subsidies at dirty energy, which is just crazy.

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