The Tragic Results of Political Compromise in U.S Energy Policy

The results of political compromise — maybe by definition — areseldom satisfactory to anyone.  But hasn’t this whole process recentlygotten worse than ever before?  The healthcare reform bill that theObama administration put through was the product of a hammer and tongsfight from the insurance companies, the pharmaceutical industry, and the enormous money and power that they and their partners brought to thebattle.  Supported by a political machine that benefited from convincing voters that the whole idea of reform was tantamount to socialism, thebill that was ultimately passed is an utter disappointment — and mayultimately fall apart for any number of reasons, one of which is asbasic as a successful constitutional challenge.

Closer to my home in the energy sector, I have to say that cap andtrade legislation is a similar sort of disaster in the making.  Anyonesincerely wanting to use the public sector to lead the way to asustainable approach to energy has extremely clearcut tools at hisdisposal.  How about the simplicity of a carbon tax?  A feed-in tariff?  What’s the matter with just pulling the subsidies on oil?  If youreally want clean energy, there are abundant and crystal clear ways todo it — instantly.  

The solutions are all around us — and yet we’re headed in a direction that really couldn’t possibly work.  Cap and trade will certainly make a few rich people even richer by creating yet another sandbox in whichour *great* investment bankers can play.  But the notion that theefficiencies of a free market will move in such a way to place a natural limit on carbon is so ridiculous that it could have only come from aprocess in which there is fundamentally no genuine concern for solvingthe problem at hand — one that is just anxiously looking for anotheropportunity to bilk a clueless electorate.

Think I’m exaggerating about the laughable ineffectiveness of ourcurrent political compromise?  Ask yourself how it’s possible that acountry of the stature of the United States with its (albeit waning)importance on the world stage still does not have an energy policy. It’s not that we have a bad one; our political environment is socontentious and corrupt that we don’t have one at all. 

I hereby join the tens of millions of other garden-variety Americans who would give President Obama a piece of advice. 

Sir, if you have any chance of re-election, look for counseloutside the Wall Streeters you have brought to your side.  Knock off the compromises that result in the garbage legislation that will otherwisebe your legacy.  Do what you promised your supporters who brought you to office, and do what’s right by your own wits and the intent of themajority the the people who elected you.  What do you have to lose?



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