Hanger’s Flawed Defense of HB 80

Pennsylvania DEP Secretary John Hanger has an absurd editorial defending House Bill 80.

His op-ed blatantly ignores the cost that the regulations in House Bill 80 would place on Pennsylvania’s energy industry.

First, Secretary Hanger rants about “foreign oil.” He demonstrates both a naive understanding of international trade, and fails to mention the fact that oil accounts for less than 1% of all electricity production in Pennsylvania. HB 80 would have no impact on consumption of foreign oil.

Second, Mr. Hanger believes that mandating an increase in the amount of electricity produced from politically-chosen alternative energy sources will attract private investments and spark competition. These claims are false because true competition responds to consumer demands, not government mandates or a growing pot of taxpayer funds. For instance, Hanger cites sources like hydroelectric and geothermal power-which are excluded from HB 80 because their lobbyists weren’t good enough.

House Bill 80 will cause either a reduction of the energy supply (alternative energy produced only 5.7% of Pennsylvania’s power in 2007), or dramatically higher rates as the costs for new infrastructure and expensive alternative energy production are passed on to consumers.

Propping up the alternative energy industry with a plethora of government handouts and mandates is not sustainable. Clean energy technology will become affordable if we keep the market flexible and open to innovation.