The problem with too many of Washington’s energy bills is that the only energy they contain is in the title. That was the case with the 2005 and 2007 energy bills, which in case anyone had not noticed have yet to do any good. And the same is true of the so-called Gang of Ten Senate proposal and similar measures under discussion in the House.
The most obvious first step in dealing with high energy prices is to make available the significant amounts of domestic oil and natural gas that inexplicably remain off limits. But the 2005 and 2007 bills did nothing to repeal the restrictions on 85 percent of our offshore areas and promising onshore sites like ANWR. Similarly, the Gang of Ten bill offers only a fig leaf of a few new offshore areas that may be opened up, but leaves nearly all the untapped energy potential off limits, and in fact strengthens the restrictions on those areas.
Energy bills also act as environmental bills in disguise. Mandates and incentives for environmentally-correct alternative fuels and vehicles abound in both the 2005 and 2007 bills. But the only reason these green alternatives need federal handouts is that they are too expensive to compete otherwise. The same is true for the Gang of Ten. But alternatives that raise the cost of energy are the last thing the American people want right now.
Energy bills are also vehicles for pork. The 2005 and 2007 bills contained a mandate for using ethanol that is highly praised by corn farmers and their benefactors in Washington, but few others. Similarly, the Gang of Ten bill contains big giveaways to the auto industry among others, as well as more handouts for ethanol and other biofuels.
Energy bills should have actual energy in them, and judging by this measure, the Gang of Ten bill would be the third energy bill in four years to fail the test.