A June report from the National Academies found that numerous federal programs designed to increase energy efficiency or promote renewable fuels have almost no effect on carbon emissions — or, in some cases, actually increase emissions.
The Wall Street Journal editorial board reported on some of the Academies’ findings in a Tuesday editorial:
Take ethanol and other biofuel subsidies, which the committee calls a "most striking" example. The 45-cents-a-gallon ethanol tax credit expired in 2012, but before it died it was increasing carbon emissions by five million tons every year, at a cost of $5.26 billion. As they say, it's not easy being green. […]
Other tax provisions are more useless than harmful by the green lobby's anticarbon standards. The renewable electricity tax credit for wind and solar will reduce emissions by roughly all of 0.3% by 2035, which is still minuscule globally.
The panel also tried to study tax credits for home energy efficiency improvements, but these programs "resisted analysis" because they are so complicated, which is a running theme in the report. One of the committee's main conclusions is that "the best existing analytical tools are unable to determine in a reliable fashion the impact of some important subsidies."
Ponder that one: The roughly $24 billion that the U.S. spends annually on energy subsidies is so complex that its impact can't be understood by America's top scientists and economists.