Here’s a great idea for fixing the Federal budget deficit: Nationalize the weather. (I’m sure you’re now kicking yourself and asking, “Why didn’t I think of that?”) The Federal government can then require that a license first be obtained by those who want to use the sun to sunbathe or the wind to fly a kite, and it can collect a tax from those engaging in activities where climatic conditions play a part.
While you may think that nationalizing the weather is just a fanciful notion, the government of Heilongjiang Province (the northeastern-most province of China) does not. In June, it issued a regulation (some reports refer to it as a draft regulation) declaring that all energy produced from wind, solar, rain or other climatic sources belongs to the State and requiring all enterprises seeking to develop energy from those sources to first obtain a government license.
The regulation has been heavily criticized by numerous Chinese commentators and engendered derisive comments about the “nationalization of the wind and sun.” One witty writer asked, for example, if he could be fined for getting sunburned without a license from the appropriate government office.
Some commentators have tried to justify the new regulation as simply a way for the government to centralize “management of resource exploitation, to avoid repetitive construction and to make natural resource shared,” and they claim that the regulation is consistent with the Chinese Constitution, which declares that “mineral resources, waters, forests, mountains, grasslands, unreclaimed lands, beaches and other natural resources are owned by the State.” Other commentators question whether climatic phenomena, like the wind and sun, fall within the purview of the term “other natural resources.”
While we can give a light-hearted poke at the idea of nationalizing the weather, the real issue is the degree to which the government should be involved in regulating renewable energy. That is an issue over which we are struggling in this country as well.