The Heritage Foundation has already made the case that the Shaheen–Portman energy efficiency bill promises only more federal intervention and corporate welfare. Adding an amendment to approve the Keystone XL Pipeline project wouldn’t make the bill any better.
The Shaheen–Portman bill would set up a “voluntary” national building code that induces states into taking federal money and the strings that go with it to implement federal standards for homes and other buildings. It also makes states the middle man in a new Department of Energy (DOE) grant program for energy efficiency upgrades while expanding other channels of corporate welfare through the DOE’s Advanced Manufacturing Office. It also spends millions on worker training programs, which states, universities, and industry already supply when they find that the workforce doesn’t meet demand.
The reality is that businesses and individuals care about using energy wisely even without the government’s prodding. Bringing government incentives, programs, and funding into the picture only brings inefficiency into the picture.
Adding an amendment calling the Obama Administration out on its unreasonable handling of the Keystone project won’t make the Shaheen–Portman bill itself any less unreasonable itself. The Senate has held several symbolic votes telling President Obama he has dragged his feet long enough on the Keystone XL Pipeline decision. In March, 62 Senators voted in favor of Senator John Hoeven’s (R–ND) amendment to bypass the President’s role in the decision. The Senate rejected another amendment by Senator Barbara Boxer (D–CA) that called for more studies on the pipeline by a vote of 66–33.
Including a Keystone Pipeline amendment would be a Pyrrhic victory, since it wouldn’t improve the bill. Congress should authorize the construction of the Keystone Pipeline but shouldn’t use it as a sweetener for an energy efficiency bill that is nothing more than corporate welfare and government paternalism.