Reason’s Shika Dalmia has been making some libertarian-friendly Cabinet recommendations, and in her discussion of possible candidates for Secretary of Energy, she reminds us of a great idea floated jointly by Ed Crate of the Cato Institute and Carl Pope of the Sierra Club a few years ago, in 2002:
But there is a better way for Obama to promote green energy that doesn’t involve breaking the federal bank: A zero subsidy energy policy, something that Carl Pope, former executive director of the Sierra Club, and Ed Crane, president of the CATO Institute, jointly advocated some years ago. Instead of asking taxpayers to subsidize green technologies, such a policy would simply eliminate existing subsidies for coal and oil that supply the vast bulk of American energy. It would also replace existing coal and oil taxes with pollution taxes to internalize emissions that pose actual harm to human health or property. This would create a level playing field in energy markets – whose absence environmentalists have long claimed is responsible for making solar, wind and other green fuels uncompetitive.
Interestingly, that 2005 post of mine was a critique of the then-draft energy bill (a version of which ultimately passed). At the time, my reaction to that bill was the same as is my growing opinion of how the Obama administration is shaping up:
Meet the new boss, same as the old boss
With thanks and apologies to Pete Townsend (and yes, it’s a Who song, but Pete’s the songwriter on that gem, so I’m being a pedant).