EPA fines companies for not doing the impossible

Michael Giberson

If you read Jonathan Adler’s post at the Volokh Conspiracy (and reposted at PERC’s Percolator blog), it makes the EPA seem a little silly for insisting on fining companies when it would be impossible for companies to comply with the law.

But don’t blame the EPA, which is just implementing a law that Congress passed and President G. W. Bush signed, the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007. Here is Bush at the signing ceremony:

The bill I sign today takes a significant step because it will require fuel producers to use at least 36 billion gallons of biofuel in 2022. This is nearly a fivefold increase over current levels. It will help us diversify our energy supplies and reduce our dependence on oil. It’s an important part of this legislation, and I thank the members of Congress for your wisdom. (Applause.)

Blame the younger Bush president, blame the members of Congress for their wisdom – or more precisely, for their failed insights in trying to drive the path of technological progress at consumer and taxpayer expense AND, a special note for anyone involving themselves in electioneering this year, failing to sweep this destructive nonsense out of the law any time in the last four years – but the EPA is only the messenger of this madness.

More from the former President:

The legislation I’m about to sign should say to the American people that we can find common ground on critical issues. And there’s more we can accomplish together. New technologies will bring about a new era of energy. So I appreciate the fact that Congress, in the omnibus spending bill that I’m going to sign later on, recognizes that new technologies will help usher in a better quality of life for our citizens. And so we’re going to spend money on new research for alternative feedstocks for ethanol. I mean, we understand the hog growers are getting nervous because the price of corn is up. But we also believe strongly that research will enable us to use wood chips and switchgrass and biomass to be able to develop the ethanol necessary to help us realize the vision outlined in this bill.

With these steps, particularly in the bill I’m about to sign, we’re going to help American consumers a lot. We’ll help them by diversifying our supplies, which will help lower energy prices. We’ll strengthen our security by helping to break our dependence on foreign oil. We’ll do our duty to future generations by addressing climate change.

And so I thank the members of Congress. I appreciate the fact that we’ve worked together, that we can show what’s possible in addressing the big issues facing our nation. This is a good bill and I’m pleased to sign it.

(The bill was signed.) (Applause.)

Ah, yes, “we also believe strongly that research will enable us to use wood chips and switchgrass and biomass to be able to develop the ethanol necessary to help us realize the vision outlined.” Turns out that the “vision” was a bit off.

By the way, yes it was the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 that gave us the standards blocking the sale of 100 MW 100 W incandescent light bulbs, beginning in 2012. Also, coincidentally, the EISA bill was signed in December 2007 and later the business cycle folks at the National Bureau of Economic Research identified December 2007 at the end of a 73-month long economic expansion and the beginning of the recession.

SEE ALSO: Kenneth Green’s post at AEI’s Enterprise BlogFill ‘er up with rainbows and unicorn sweat!, and the Matthew Wald New York Times article cited by both Green and Adler.

[EDIT: As a commenter hints, the reference to 100 MW light bulbs was in error. -MG]


5 thoughts on “EPA fines companies for not doing the impossible

  1. Obviously, technology-forcing legislation is not always successful in forcing technology. Who knew?

    I guess the underlying logic from EPA is that, if the oil companies could not buy the cellusosic ethanol on the market, they should have made it themselves.

  2. Yeah, I think the thinking is, “if we don’t penalized them, then we reward them for not devoting more resources to developing the technology to meet the goals that Congress has established.” Federal agencies, “independent” or not, don’t want to annoy the big dogs on the hill.

  3. Those who do research understand that you cannot schedule major breakthroughs, nor can you accurately project the costs of achieving them. Congresscritters, on the other hand, appear to believe that any problem can be solved by throwing enough money at it fast enough. One need only consider the successes Congress has achieved eliminating poverty and improving our education system to understand why they believe in the “big money fast” approach. (sarc off)

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