I often hear the claim in “E”nvironmental circles that were it not for the oil and coal and gas companies getting politicians in their pockets (especially oil companies) and for other unnamed nefarious activities that we would be well on our way to a greener and cleaner and more independent energy future.
But if folks believe these giant fossil fuel corporations are so savvy and so clever as to do all of these things, then how come they do not do the single thing that would most directly stifle the development of alternatives to fossil fuels? What is that thing? Lowering prices. Since 2007 oil prices in particular have increased dramatically and are now certainly at levels that make some existing “green” technologies cost competitive if only the fossil fuel prices remained this high. It is only by continually lowering prices and/or improving the quality of their products that fossil fuel companies can continue to obtain the favor of consumers. With gas at $4.00 per gallon, and winter heating bills looking like they’ll be $300 per month, I am sure folks are as receptive as ever to alternatives to fossil fuels. Do you think they’d be more receptive if gasoline was $1.00 and heating cost $75 per month?
It is simply incredible that “green technology” companies continue to win favor for regulatory privileges and government subsidies at a time when the marketplace is set up perfectly for them to be making progress. I can imagine the stock answer to my query would be something like, “well, oil companies are greedy, so they want high prices to make profits off of us hapless consumers.” Well folks, what argument is it going to be?