Sarbanes-Oxley and the 2006 elections supposedly inaugurated a new congressional commitment to ethics, transparency, accountability and consumer protection. Something has been lost in translation.
The “energy” bill now wending its way through the legislative labyrinth dedicates $6 billion to goodies like more energy-efficient snowmobiles for ski resorts, outlaws “price gouging” at the gas pump, and sets new mileage standards that will likely make cars and light trucks less safe and cost more lives. It also provides subsidies and mandates for politically correct “alternative” energy projects that probably wouldn’t survive without such aid.
But the bill doesn’t increase the nation’s energy supply by one drop of gasoline or one watt of electricity, says Congressman Jim McCrery (R-LA). It lifts no bans on oil and gas drilling, and does nothing to ease regulatory impediments to pipelines, transmission lines, refineries, or coal and nuclear generating plants. The only power it generates is expanded bureaucratic power over energy and economic decisions.
Its ethanol mandates will result in more land converted from wildlife habitat to corn fields, and in greater use of water, fertilizer, pesticides, and tractor and truck fuel. Corn prices will continue to rise, along with the cost of meat, candy, soft drinks and other products that use corn for feed or corn syrup as a sweetener. The biofuel itself will cost more, but provide less mileage per tank.
Expanded wind power will mean more 300-foot-tall “cuisinarts” killing birds and bats, marring once-scenic vistas, and feeding into hundred-mile transmission lines – to provide expensive, intermittent electricity that has to be backed up by natural-gas-fired generators. It may even take more energy to mine and process the ores and manufacture the turbines and transmission lines and towers, than is generated during the productive lifetime of wind turbines, which only work about 30% of the time.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has proposed to make Congress “carbon neutral” in its electricity use. How this is possible without building separate transmission lines and condemning private property for rights-of-way, to get electricity from wind and solar farms to Capitol Hill, she doesn’t say.
Even less ethical is the rush to “do something” about global warming. Assorted climate change bills propose to slash US carbon dioxide emissions by varying amounts, under different timetables, to prevent speculative catastrophes conjured up by computer models that do not reflect complex atmospheric processes and cannot predict temperature or climate one year in the future, much less 40 or 90.
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