Maryland is funding green boondoggles on the backs of the poor. At NRO, Jillian Kay Melchior details how Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley has put in place green policies that have drastically raised energy prices across the state—especially for low-income residents. Because the state government supports offshore wind projects, forces Maryland companies to buy expensive forms of energy, and imposes extra fees on electricity users (for example, an “implementation surcharge”), the average Marylander now pays more than $125 per month in energy costs. And that’s not all:
The Maryland Budget & Tax Policy Institute has highlighted a “home energy affordability gap,” noting that energy is considered affordable when it costs less than 7 percent of household income. But in Maryland, people at 50 percent of the federal poverty level or below devote about 40 percent of their income to energy consumption, says Richard Doran, program director of the Fuel Fund of Maryland.Only eight states had a bigger affordability gap, according to the Maryland Budget & Tax Policy Institute. Furthermore, it noted, “Maryland’s affordability gap has grown 198.8 percent between 2002 and 2011 (the most recent data).”
We’ve seen this before. In European country after European country governments pushed through solar and wind subsidies while ignoring shale resources. In many cases, those governments have realized the failures of that approach, and are backpedaling in the face of widespread popular opposition to high energy prices.Why would a US state want to pick up with similar policies just at the moment that Europe is trying to retreat from them, especially when the US has capitalized so much more effectively on the shale revolution than Europe has? Maryland ought to learn from the European experience, and stop trying to prop up nascent technologies before it does even more harm to its most vulnerable citizens.