Pork In The House Energy Bill? Say It Ain’t So!

The group Taxpayers for Common Sense has published an analysis of HR6, the House energy bill that passed last week. They pull no punches in claiming that

The 5-inch thick “Energy Policy Act of 2003” will do very little to reduce energy prices or increase domestic energy production. It authorizes $46.7 billion in new spending and $18.7 billion in industry tax cuts, funding everything from nanotechnology research to a demonstration project to burn post-consumer carpeting in cement kilns.

Among the worst provisions is royalty relief for oil companies engaged in off-shore and unconventional drilling. When oil is drilled on federal land, oil producers pay the government a fee for using our land and taking our natural resources. When they get ‘relief’, however, they can just take the oil for free, without paying for use of a natural resource on public lands.

The bill also includes $1.925 billion in subsidies to build new “clean coal” facilities, despite the fact that the Clean Coal Technology Program has been documented a failure by the government’s own General Accounting Office, for its inability “to meet cost, schedule, or performance goals.” Twenty years after the program first started, all that clean coal has to show for itself is billions of dollars down the drain and a few technologies fueled more by the necessities of the Clean Air Act than by government-sponsored research.

The analysis does a very useful thing by going section by section through the bill, describing what each section would involve, and inserting their comments on that section and the likely cost of it to taxpayers.

For a more general analysis of the National Energy Policy and the legislation likely to arise from implementing it, see this analysis that Adrian Moore and I wrote for the Institute for Research on the Economics of Taxation.