Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Energy policy checklist

Fuel ethanol is the perfect illustration of statist ability to pick economic winners. That is, fuel ethanol is an economic and environmental disaster.

Ethanol may be passé on the merits, but, philosophically, it precisely represents what our once and future governors consider to be an ideal "public/private partnership." Practically speaking, our federal representatives think it still is.

Legislators claim to support ethanol subsidization in order to "save jobs and the planet." In reality, once they started on this gateway drug, more appropriations became the only way to avoid admitting the withdrawal symptoms: Stupidity and venality.

Engine Makers Sue to Block E15 Fuel
Read that and come back.

So here's the government energy policy of the last 30 years:

1- Prevent drilling for new US petroleum supplies.

Result: Less US petroleum supply.

2- Subsidize giant corporations like Arthur Daniels Midland to produce ethanol.
2a- Encourage Governor Granholm to subsidize other minor players who go bankrupt.

Result: Wasted taxpayer dollars and a glut of ethanol. No environmental improvement. Likely environmental degradation.

3- Pass a law requiring an increase in the use of fuel ethanol.

Result: ADM is happy. Jenny learns nothing.

4- Continue a 54 cent per gallon tariff on Brazilian ethanol.

Result: Encourage Brazil to sign a deal with China for oil extraction.

(Good thing we've got that tariff to keep nasty foreign ethanol out. We wouldn't want a glut of a liquid that is going to save the planet. Good thing gas prices are up. We wouldn't want a glut.)

5- Subsidize electric cars built by a failed union and pay people to buy them.

Result: $40,000 Chevy Cobalt Volt.

6- Mount bird killer windmills on 5 ton concrete platforms all over the fruited plain.

Result: Tiny amount of intermittent power. Exemption for the Kennedys' view.

7- Blame the dead birds, high oil prices and ethanol glut on unregulated capitalism.

Result: Demand regulation. It's all the fault of big business.

(True, but not an iota of that truth is the result of a free market.)

8- "Fix" the ethanol glut by forcing people to buy 50% more of it.

Result: ADM is HAPPY!  Half of American's cars will have to drive farther to find usable gasoline.

9- Future tasks: Subsidize gas stations who were forced to install new underground tanks for a 3rd type of fuel.

Result: Blame capitalism. Reset. Look for a new winner. Like lithium batteries.

10- Continue the ban on drilling on the US continental shelf and in ANWR. Choke off drilling in the Gulf of Mexico.

Result: Dependence on foreign oil higher than necessary.

11- Blame capitalism for high gasoline prices.

Rinse. Repeat.