Dirty Energy Flack Robert Bryce Yet Again Attacks Subsidies to Wind Power While Ignoring Massively Larger Ones to Fossil Fuels

We’ve written previously about Robert Bryce, specifically how he has established himself as one of this country’s leading shill for dirty energy, relentlessly spreading disinformation about clean energy across the media landscape. The titles of Bryce’s books and articles – Power Hungry: The Myths of “Green” Energy and the Real Fuels of the Future“Let’s Get Real About Renewable Energy”,  and “James Hansen’s war on coal” – tell you exactly where he’s coming from, so there’s no need to waste your time slogging through them. Need more? How about that Bryce  is a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, a front group that receives its funding from, among others, the Koch Industries Family Foundation?  Note that he’s been at this for years, and that he’s showing no signs of giving up his lucrative paychecks anytime soon.

Well, to paraphrase a line from a former president who is probably one of Bryce’s heroes, there he goes again. This time, Bryce spews out 1,200 or so words in the pro-dirty-energy, anti-clean-energy National Review, falsely smearing wind energy. In his screed, Bryce repeats several of the most popular falsehoods and distortions, such as that the wind industry supposedly receives a disproportionate amount of federal assistance. Of course, that’s absurd, given the massively larger subsidies, both implicit and explicit, which have been provided to fossil fuels for many decades at this point.  In addition, Bryce ignores the fact that the price of fossil fuels in this country do not come even close to reflecting their true cost in terms of damages they inflict on human health, the environment, and U.S. national security.  See here for just one study of one industry (coal), and its $300-$500 billion in hidden costs every single year.

Bryce further argues that the wind industry kills “some 440,000 birds per year,” ignoring Fish and Wildlife Service statistics which indicate that power lines (most of which carry electricity generated by coal or natural gas) alone result in as many as 174 million bird deaths per year in the United States. That’s about 400 times higher than the number of birds supposedly (see much lower number cited below) killed by wind turbines. Bryce also ignores the facts that: 1) “Wind is the only source of energy that does not present population-level risks to birds, according to a study of coal, oil, natural gas, nuclear, hydroelectric, and wind power;” and 2) “Wind power causes far fewer losses of birds (approximately 108,000 a year) than buildings (550 million), power lines (130 million), cars (80 million), poisoning by pesticides (67 million), domestic cats (at least 10 million), and radio and cell towers (4.5 million).”

But why let facts get in the way of a good story, especially when your job is to say what your paymasters in the fossil fuel industry want you to say?  That’s exactly what Robert Bryce does here, and in many other articles, and we can only hope that he’s well compensated for his efforts. In this case, what Bryce has produced is the latest embarrassing attempt to justify continued taxpayer-funded corporate welfare for some of the most mature and profitable industries – oil, coal, natural gas – in the country.  Again, that’s Bryce’s job, and it would be nice if National Review make that fact clear to its readers (note: it doesn’t do so).

Meanwhile, we don’t seem to notice Bryce et al. railing against corporate welfare for any other industries besides wind and solar. Look, if these guys want to be against taxpayer handouts to wealthy corporations, that’s perfectly fine; we probably would even agree with them. But can we at least ask that they try to be the least bit consistent in their criticisms? Instead, what we see in this article by Bryce, and more broadly in many similar articles, is the fossil fuel folks selectively going after clean energy, without any similar drive, focus, and outrage when it comes to the really wasteful stuff.  Sadly, the blatant hypocrisy is not surprising in the least.