NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


June 25, 2010

A year ago the Waxman-Markey energy regulation bill passed the House.  Now before the Senate is the Kerry-Lieberman energy regulation bill, which includes many of the same damaging provisions -- government control of many aspects of energy generation, distribution and prices, says Pete du Pont, chairman of the National Center for Policy Analysis and former governor of Delaware. 

The Kerry-Lieberman bill is a bit less bad than the Waxman-Markey legislation, but only a bit, says du Pont: 

  • It would provide loan guarantees and encourages a speedier licensing process for new nuclear plants, one of the safest and best electricity generation options we have; America has 104 such plants today and needs to build many more to reduce pollution.
  • It would support carbon capture in coal plants by providing $2 billion of research funding for clean coal, which -- if it works -- might help reduce domestic pollution at some point in the future.
  • Before the Gulf explosion, it would have significantly encouraged offshore drilling (Waxman-Markey never mentioned offshore drilling); but it has now been amended to give Atlantic and Pacific coastal states a veto over any offshore drilling plans that officials believe might cause environmental or economic harm. 

And still tucked away in the bill is a protectionist measure that Sen. John Kerry's summary calls a "border adjustment mechanism."  It would apply if "no global agreement on climate change is reached."  In that case, there would be U.S. taxes on goods imported from countries "that have not taken action to limit emissions."  The same bad idea is in the Waxman-Markey bill, says du Pont. 

The Kerry-Lieberman bill also includes a national cap-and-trade system similar to Waxman-Markey's.  Electricity generation utilities would have a limited allotment of greenhouse gas emissions, and there would be penalties for heavy-polluting industries.  It may be a bit better than the House bill, but either version would add huge new bureaucracies and huge new regulations of energy, says du Pont. 

Source: Pete du Pont, "Generation Gap; The Kerry-Lieberman energy bill would enervate America," Wall Street Journal, June 25, 2010.


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