natural gas energy

The Shaheen-Portman Energy Bill Isn’t a “Win, Win, Win,” It’s a Loss

We recently announced our key vote (here) against the  Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act of 2013 (S. 761) introduced by Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) 2% and Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) 30%.  Thursday during debate on the Senate floor, these two senators made remarks in favor of their legislation.

Sen. Portman said, “this is not about ‘Washington knows best.”

We beg to differ with the Senators.  In our key vote we explained:

Like most government-initiated efficiency programs, this one is fatally flawed because it is based on the idea that businesses and families will act irrationally unless the government intervenes.  This inappropriate intervention comes in the form of voluntary federal mandates and taxpayer funded subsidies.  As Heritage notes, only the free-market has been proven to decrease costs and increase efficiency in energy production.

Sen. Portman stressed the idea that they drafted the legislation in such a way as to contain no mandates.  But, as is the case with many pieces of legislation there’s a catch, as we’ve noted: though the mandates are voluntary, the Secretary of Energy would be able to dangle carrots by providing federal funding to state governments to get them to adopt certain building codes.

His colleague Sen. Shaheen called the bill a “win, win, win.”  Not quite:

This federal government intervention is unnecessary for a number of reasons.  Businesses already know how to save money, so they don’t need the government to force taxpayer funded voluntary mandates and regulations upon them.  Government attempts to drive energy efficiency take a paternalistic approach and ignore consumer preferences.  Families and businesses should be able to choose how  to spend their money as they see fit, not be prodded by the federal government with taxpayer-funded handouts.

Related links:

10 Questions Congress Should Ask About the Shaheen–Portman Energy Bill

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Sen. Portman said re. his energy bill "this is not about 'Washington knows best." We beg to differ.

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One thought on “The Shaheen-Portman Energy Bill Isn’t a “Win, Win, Win,” It’s a Loss

  1. As an individual who has worked in the energy efficiency industry for years, I have to disagree that businesses and even consumers act rationally regarding energy efficiency. It seems so obvious that efficiency is an easy way to save money with no negative consequences except an initial investment, but studies (and the biggest laboratory of all–our country’s national habits) have shown that what we “know” and what we actually do when it comes to saving/conserving energy are at a total disconnect. I think it’s easier for people to see the value in a thing that you GET (i.e. granite countertops, solar panels) than a thing you DON’T GET (i.e. excess energy bills). Plus they want to invest in things they get “now” and not “over time.”

    I have worked specifically with numerous utility incentive programs that reward homebuilders for building more efficient homes… have you ever considered that most homes aren’t built by the people who actually live in them? Consumers can learn to demand efficiency as a feature, but it needs to be a product they can relate to and understand first, and only the market penetration brought on by such stimulus programs can make that happen. I mean logically, without a financial incentive, why would builders choose to spend more money making a product that consumers didn’t actually want (yet)? These are just my thoughts, but they are from tons of constantly reinforcing experience, so I think they’re worth considering.

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