Big Labor, Trial Lawyers, and Now…Energyites

By June 15, 2007Energy

Kimberly Strassel’s Potomac Watch column on the House energy bill. Telling passage:

Broadly, the bill fulfills one big ambition of environmental groups in recent years: a rollback of any smarter use of public (or even private) lands for energy use. Gone are previous gains for more drilling, more refineries, more transmission lines. But the big prize was an unprecedented new power allowing green groups to micromanage U.S. lands. That section creates “a new national policy on wildlife and global warming.” It would require the Secretary of the Interior to “assist” species in adapting to global warming, as well as “protect, acquire and restore habitat” that is “vulnerable” to climate change. This is the Endangered Species Act on steroids. At least under today’s (albeit dysfunctional) species act, outside groups must provide evidence a species is dwindling in order for the government to step in. This law would have no such requirements. Since green groups will argue that every species is vulnerable to climate change, the government will be obliged to manage every acre containing a bird, bee or flower.

It’s a green dream come true, carte blanche to promulgate endless regulations barring tree-cutting, house-building, water-damming, snowmobile-riding, waterskiing, garden-planting, or any other human activity. The section is vague (“protect,” “assist,” “restore”) precisely so as to leave the door open to practically anything. In theory, your friendly Fish & Wildlife representative could even command you to start applying sunblock to your resident chipmunks’ noses.

The NAM’s statement on the House bill is here. Years of compromise and consensus that achieved the 2005 Energy Policy Act are being rolled back in a just a few weeks. Manufacturers and consumers are the losers.

UPDATE (3:15 p.m.): “Energyites” is kinda lame as an epithet. Better term: “Ignoble savages.”

But anyway, here from Marlo Lewis of the Competitive Enterprise Institute is remarkable, lengthy and very, very sharp-penned point-by-point rebuttal of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s recent floor speech on energy. Lewis also gives President Bush a whack or two, too. Really a seminar in a single column, so here’s just one sample:

Reid: In 1878 Thomas Alva Edison perfected the light bulb and the world was illuminated. In 1908 Henry Ford introduced the Model T and Americans took to the roads. In 1961, President Kennedy challenged us to put a man on the moon and eight years later our frontiers were forever expanded.

Reid invokes the Apollo Project. How predictable! He sees no difference between Edison and Ford’s success and that of the Apollo Program. But the difference is fundamental. There was no market test for the Apollo program. Its goal was not to produce a product consumers would willingly buy but to beat the Russians to the Moon. It is a fundamental error to believe that, because federal R&D can accomplish military or geopolitical objectives, it can also pick winners in the private marketplace.

As they say, read the whole thing.

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