Friday, January 27, 2012

O'Malley Bets Big on Green Agenda

The success of Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley's 2012 agenda largely will hinge on his ability to push a series of environmental initiatives through a legislature wary of the financial implications of his green energy blueprint. O'Malley is already facing resistance over his plan to double the state's "flush" tax, which would cost Marylanders an average of $60 a year to aid Chesapeake Bay cleanup efforts.

And he is expected in the coming days to announce a proposed increase in the state's 23.5-cents-per-gallon gas tax, a charge that has remained the same for decades. "Personally, I'd like to see us get away from a commodity tax, especially when it's a commodity that we hope that green cars and hybrids and plug-ins will reduce the consumption of," O'Malley previously said.
That seems contradictory, increasing the tax to raise revenue, while hoping to get away from the tax altogether. Nothing is more addicting to government than revenue, and getting rid of a commodity tax by raising it seems like stopping a smoking habit by adding a pack a day.  

I do agree, however, that if (and this is a big if) electric cars, or alternative fuel cars (natural gas or propane cars whose fuel was untaxed were to become important, a new source of revenue for transportation needs would need to be found.  However, my guess is that politicians would simply tax those sources directly, rather than getting it from an unrelated source, like say, the $#!* tax.
The governor has long argued that, if the state is to remain economically competitive, it must kick-start green energy projects in the nascent stages of production overseas -- which have yet to take off domestically over concerns about expenses -- and curb dependence on traditional energy sources.

And the governor recently restarted his bid to develop an offshore wind farm on the Atlantic Coast, modifying a proposal last year that was the source of his biggest legislative defeat. The General Assembly last year balked at passing the cost of wind power onto electricity ratepayers. This time around, O'Malley has recommended capping the wind subsidies at $2 more per month than normal electricity costs.

It remains to be seen whether that shift will entice offshore production or sway skeptical lawmakers, but O'Malley is eager to deliver on one of the bedrocks of his national pitch to the Democratic base.
Meanwhile, around the country, and world, wind power systems are failing to meet their expectations and being idled, as are their manufacturing plants.  Much like weeds, power sources will survive and thrive where conditions for their survival are good, and labor and money will be wasted trying to force them to exist where conditions are not conducive.

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