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  • Lugar’s “Practical Energy Plan” Means More Government, Less Consumer Choice


    Kudos to Sen. Richard Lugar (R-IN) for recognizing that current “rhetoric and legislation [which] are focused primarily at climate change” are out of step with the concerns of most Americans. A January poll by Pew Research Center found “dealing with global warming ranks at the bottom of the public’s list of priorities; just 28% consider this a top priority.” The Senator frames his new approach in this way:

    I am proposing practical steps that save money and that everybody can support. Threats to our economy and security are of paramount importance. We can best face these threats by reducing our dangerous dependence on foreign oil and creating U.S. jobs in new energy and conservation efforts.

    However rhetorically pleasing that may sound, Americans and policymakers should realize that such a plan would mean more power for the federal government and less choice for Americans. When viewed through that lens, the Senator’s proposal is similar to Obamacare, cap-and-trade and the EPA’s proposed global warming regulations. All three are wildly unpopular with the American people.

    Let’s briefly walk through Senator Lugar’s policy outline.

    First, he proposes “national building performance standards,” government incentives for retrofitting, and strengthened appliance and lighting efficiency standards. The truth is that government intervention is not needed to achieve these sorts of advancements. They happen naturally as consumers gravitate towards better products and services, which is why, as Heritage’s David Kreutzer points out, the current “trend toward greater energy efficiency is expected to continue.” Such mandates also come with perverse unintended consequences. Don’t believe me? Think about the CFL light bulbs that contain mercury and how the mandate to buy them killed manufacturing jobs in America.

    Second, the Senator proposes a “clean energy standard,” enhanced loan guarantees and early retirement for some coal plants. As my colleagues Ben Lieberman and Nick Loris point out, a clean energy standard “is proposed only because renewables are too expensive to compete otherwise. In effect, Washington is forcing costlier energy options on the public. Since renewables are lavished with substantial tax breaks, a national mandate will cost Americans both as taxpayers and as ratepayers. Any incentive proposed by government should in truth be read as a handout.” Since when did expensive energy mandated by the government and subsidized by the taxpayer become a good idea?

    Finally, the highest ranking Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee suggests we reduce our dependence on foreign oil by increasing CAFE standards, continuing the severely flawed ethanol mandate and enhancing “domestic oil production.” The latter is a great idea, which Heritage supports vigorously, but only in the context of free markets, not energy security. Unfortunately, the other measures Lugar identifies are not helpful: 1) the partially enacted ethanol mandate has already severely distorted markets and 2) CAFE standards will force consumers to buy smaller, more expensive vehicles.

    Policymakers must realize that empowering the federal government, spending more taxpayer dollars, and taking away consumer choice is not sound energy policy. Its not sound policy, period. Our nation’s energy policy needs change, but those changes should favor consumer choice and free enterprise, not government bureaucrats.

    Posted in Energy [slideshow_deploy]

    14 Responses to Lugar’s “Practical Energy Plan” Means More Government, Less Consumer Choice

    1. John Sinclair, Frisc says:

      I agree and am appalled at how the environmental movement has hijacked the debate. Those of us in support of cheaper energy are always potrade as bad people and that we are destroying the planet. On the contrary we very much love where we live and believe in environmental stewardship. Have you ever seen a 3rd world country that any environmentalist would want to live? They are the dirtiest places on earth and they do not have affordable energy readily available. Fossil Fuels have put us in a position to actual create a better environment. Economic prosperity allows us to worry about things other than just staying alive for the day. We need to take back our mantel of the good guys.

    2. Trey, Texas says:

      We need an Energy Freedom Plan!

    3. Michelle, Seattle says:

      I agree with several points in this article, especially regarding ethanol. Investments in bio-fuels should be made very carefully, many are not greener than fossil fuel and by burning crops we can increase global food prices. I believe that certain types of bio-gas (those that come from recycled matter) are worth using, but it should be a case by case situation.

      I ask the author what he thinks of diversifying the energy market. Although bio-fuels may not be the answer, there are several other types of energy that are having a hard time competing with the current policies and prices of fossil fuels. Wouldn’t it increase national security if we began investing in different forms of energy (wind, solar, geothermal) that can be produced in the US instead of relying on foreign oil? I feel like the choice between oil and coal isn’t much of a choice at all. I would like to see more options and competition between all types of energy. I would not suggest more subsidies, but rather the transfer of subsidies (therefore no more government involvement/ money spent).


    4. Billie says:

      Any plan that includes more government, depletes independence and reduces freedom which makes it impractical. Energy independence isn’t independent with government intervention.

    5. Dan Holler, Washingt says:

      That’s a good question, Michelle. There is certainly nothing inherently wrong with energy diversity, but it should not be an end in and of itself. We have a wealth of nature resources in the US that the federal government has placed off limits. Environmental laws have also been abused by the anti-growth crowd to prevent the development of a energy production, renewable and otherwise.

      I would suggest that the way to see more competition in energy production is to level the playing field (i.e., scrap the subsidies, mandates, etc) and streamline the environmental regulations. Our current system is titled toward politically favored renewables. Any time you inject politicians into the decision making process, the outcome will be less efficient.

    6. Jerry, Indiana says:

      Mr. Lugar does not speak for the vast majority of his constituents. His lack of old-fashioned common sense on this topic is very telling about where his loyalties truly lie and shows that he doesn't trust the free market to come up with creative ideas to keep the environment clean while at the same time growing our economy.

      Government is not the answer to our problem.

    7. Ray Davenport Portla says:

      If the republicans win in November, What have we won? More of the same kinds of ideas.

    8. Ben C. Ann Arbor, MI says:

      I am not completely well versed in the reasons for our dependency on foreign oil but I do remember the gas lines in the 70's and the national 55 mph speed limit. My recollection is that the windfall profit tax on the oil industry and the environmental left caused the oil companies to say "screw it" – we will buy oil from the Middle East to sell in the US. This worked for awhile but now is a major problem. Had Congress and the environmentalists stayed out of the equation we would not be facing the international problems we are today. Perhaps someone better informed will support/refute my memory.

    9. John B. San Diego says:

      The rush to so-called Green Energy is not only low on the priority list of major concerns by American Households the methods government has used in accomplishing environmental change lack proper planning and foresight.

      Begin with solar energy as one example solar energy company(s) received US subsidies to produce and market photoelectric panels worldwide.

      Some not all products contained Cadmium #48 Cd on the periodical chart, effects on the human body (1 Reproductive Failure (2Damage to the following Central Nervous System, Immune System, DNA (3 Psychological Disorders are risks of exposure.

      European countries have refused these tainted solar panels and will purchase no more containing Cd. A waste of US Gov subsidies Our Tax Dollars also a very good example of willy-nilly rush to green energy that is not had proper R&D.

      Think of this problem from another view, no company with stockholders would contemplate this large investment of their own capital, with no gov subsidy; no they would have likely discovered the potential problem of employing Cadmium in manufacturing process and thus saved stockholders large sums of moneys and company reputation, right!

      Well no one is looking out for the taxpayer in D.C. these days.

      Touted as huge energy saver is C.F.L. Compact florescent light bulbs, may well be designed so those bulbs save energy. However incandescent bulbs pose much less risk to American Households. The CFL contains mercury vapor, mercury #80 Hg on the periodic table, effects on the human body are shocking,

      (1 Described to most nearly be identical symptoms that "Autism" displays and pregnant women are at some risk. (2 in cases Neurological and Behavioral Disorders, examples are tremors, insomnia, and headaches (3High exposures have led to deaths. And incandescent bulbs are disappearing from store shelves.

      More news about CFL the E.P.A., U.S. Coast Guard, and F.C.C. has issued warnings and statements regarding cautions detrimental effect and public safety concerns over the use and disposal of CFL… EPA says broken or damaged CFL must be handled with great care and outlines specific instructions for disposal

      The U.S.C.G. and F.C.C. have similar concerns about CFL interference with lifesaving transmissions over radio frequencies used during operations and in cases by first responders on land. The problem .05-30 MHz bands are interrupted by CFL on CG and First Responders Radio bands during critical times.

      Shortwave and Ham radio operators are complaining about interruption of their signals caused by CFL Some Radio Operator Enthusiasts have stated as each CFL is put to use in America and abroad the effective signal is reduced.

      These Ammeter Radio Operators have been critical in times of natural disasters such as earthquakes and times of war.

      And last but very frustrating is the CFL will make your remote control malfunction for TV, Sat. Cable, and DVD Players.

      To sum up not very much real relevant Research and Development has preceding our billions of tax dollars poured out for things we don't enjoy and put us in jeopardy?

      Ironic some of Thomas Edison’s best work we abandon, typical of this Administration

    10. Pingback: Find Out How to Use Green Energy in Your Home

    11. John Sinclair, Frisc says:

      Wind is a good alternative for energy use if you want to reduce CO2 emissions, but wind is not a source of cheap reliable energy. If the atmosphere was the size of Texas, the City of Fort Worth would be the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere and the Fort Worth Stockyards would be the amount of manmade CO2 in the atmosphere. Are we really the cause of global warming? We have seen the keepers of the worldwide temperature data are liars and decievers, so is the globe even warming. CO2 is an easy emission to be measured and the cap and trade debate is only another means to tax the energy companies, who will rightly so pass their costs on to the consummer. This is a tax on everybody that uses energy. Wind does not always blow and wind turbines are expensive to maintain. Many wind turbines in England sit idle because they cannot be maintained. Wind turbines take up a lot of land mass, they are eye sores and they kill birds and disrupt their migratory paths (remember the Caribou and the worry by the environmentalist of how oil development in ANWR would disrupt the Caribou lifestyle?) GE is the winner for wind turbines and also with health care if Obama gets his way. (I thought we were going to get rid of lobbyist influence) GE makes most of the turbines and are the leading candidate to develop the one stop shop for our medical records.

    12. Jeanne Stotler,Woodb says:

      WE have natural resourse in this country and off shore, this would free us from the hold that countries who hate us have over us, it would also produce lower cost to the consumer. The Federal gov't. prevents this and no one questions. What we need today are some good investigative reporters, some that can put personal beliefs, etc aside and find out what is really going on behind the scenes, who is taking bribes, who is in who's pocket, where all the pork is really going and WHY. If this was to be accomplished we could start lowering the deficit and putting the USA back on the right track. Along with this should be term limits for Congress, 12 yrs. is long enough, no more senile members being carried into chambers and their arms raised for them. Let us put this country back to what our Foundinf fathers intended, A Nation under God, of the people and for the people.

    13. John Sinclair, Frisc says:

      To add to John B.of San Diego, the Federal Govt. required an additive to gasoline(MTBE) to reduce ozone emissions that turned out to be toxic. The use was suspended by most states for road use, but it is the oil companies that are being sued for something mandated by the Fed's. The light bulb manufacturer's should learn from this.

    14. Heather, Lowell Ma says:

      I think liberals live in a world that only exist in their minds. In the minds there is are lots of wind turbines that always turn and solar power plants that get sun light every day.

      But in the real world the wind turbines do not always spin and sometimes there are clouds in the sky. There are not as many wind farms and solar power plants too, becuase enviromentalist protest every time you try to start digging a hole in the ground to build one!

      Look at Barbara Boxer in California. Now I am sure she will tell us all how wonderful green energy is; how wonderful the wind farms and solar power plants are. But she also went around and protested at sites of planned solar power plants!

      The reality is wind farms and solar power plants use very large areas of land. You have to build a lot of them. This means you need a LOT of land. And no enviromental group is going to sit idle while you do that!

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