Energy Bill

The energy bill passed by the Senate requires that the average corporate gas mileage be 35mpg in about 13 years! With that long a delay 75mpg would be more reasonable, and not impossible. This is regarded as a defeat for the automobile industry, which has been fighting this for years and “winning”. While they have been “winning” foreign companies have been increasing their market share, often with (the not irrelevant) more economical cars, and pushing the “winning” US companies closer to bankruptcy. If this provision makes it into the final law the stockholders and workers will have something to celebrate — but not too much. By the time US-built cars average 35mpg foreign ones will average 50mpg or more. It is an interesting political question why the workers keep electing representatives who work so hard to destroy their jobs?

Those interested in pathopsychology should find this question fascinating.

The Republicans criticize the bill for not doing enough to increase domestic energy production (that is not helping increase the profits of the oil industry).  But that is not a solution. There is a (quite) limited potential for such energy supplies. The only real solution is develop other sources of energy (which itself is likely to be insufficient) and use energy more efficiently. This requires, in part, market signals (which the Republicans always proclaim that they strongly believe in). One such fundamental signal is price. Higher prices now (such as for gasoline) will mean more secure supply and lower prices in the future. And it will make it less likely that there will be sudden severe price increases for which we will not be prepared. Claiming that the bill does that is not a criticism but is praise for it.

Our political leaders regard us as children, requiring immediate gratification. Adults, which some of us are (but apparently not those who vote), know that we often have to do things that we do not wish to (like unpleasant work) so we can have a better future (often any future). It is better to pay a little more now than vastly more in the future, or even go without in the future, which for energy can be disastrous.

Let us hope that the final energy bill is a product of adults.

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