NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


December 26, 2007

Want to see what's wrong with the newly enacted energy bill? Just take a look at past energy bills, says Ben Lieberman, senior policy analyst at The Heritage Foundation.

For instance:

  • Low-flush toilets -- mandated under the 1992 Energy Policy Act and put into effect in 1994 -- have cost millions of Americans more money and have performed worse than the toilets they replaced.
  • Homeowners have complained that they have to flush more than once, which, in addition to being annoying, cuts into the water conservation purpose behind the law.

Or look at your grocery bill, says Lieberman:

  • Thanks to the 2005 energy law, agricultural-based renewable fuels, mostly ethanol derived from corn, must be mixed into the gasoline supply.
  • The mandate has raised the cost of driving, since ethanol-containing blends have lower fuel economy.
  • Worse, the diversion of significant amounts of corn to ethanol production has led to a near-doubling of corn prices, in turn leading to higher prices for food items such as corn-fed meat and dairy products.

The latest energy bill continues in this tradition by being filled with provisions likely to backfire in the years ahead:

  • Though it mercifully left toilets alone, the law does have convoluted efficiency requirements impacting light bulbs, boilers, refrigerators, dishwashers, clothes washers and air conditioners.
  • Worst of all, the new law includes a five-fold increase in the amount of ethanol that must be added to the gasoline supply, from 7.5 billion gallons per year to 36 billion.

There shouldn't be any mystery why these laws fail, says Lieberman. They all involve Congress trying to force the public into using something the marketplace has rejected.  If newfangled toilets or increased ethanol usage actually made sense, they would catch on without heavy-handed government mandates.  Ditto the required modifications to appliances.

Source: Ben Lieberman, "The Energy Bill That Should Have Been Flushed,", December 21, 2007.

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