“The U.S. Has Thousands of Energy Strategies”

Michael Giberson

The Wall Street Journal printed a letter to the editor from Dick Gillette which gets right the response to calls for a unified U.S. energy strategy. Business Roundtable President John Engler earlier had complained the United States had no energy strategy and concluded that the nation was missing valuable opportunities because of it.

Gillette responded:

Regarding the April 3 letter from Business Roundtable President John Engler: Why are we all obsessed with our energy strategy? We are far less concerned with our manufacturing strategy and not at all about our retail strategy, as far as I can see. Why do we need an energy strategy at all, and who is “we”? Private capital has done a pretty good job of keeping our tanks full over the years without smothering GDP. “We” didn’t develop hydraulic fracking, or discover oil in North Dakota or spend billions to build refineries. Private capital did that, so what is it that “we” think we have to offer? As evidenced by Rep. Chris Van Hollen’s proposed bill to tax energy companies more heavily than other industries, in Washington an energy strategy is really just about money.

In fact, the U.S. has thousands of energy strategies. Some will succeed, some will fail, as always. But there is no reason to believe our tanks won’t be full at affordable prices for decades into the future.

Yes, thousands of energy strategies in this country, perhaps even millions. When values are diverse and knowledge is dispersed, letting a thousand energy strategies bloom really is the best approach.


3 thoughts on ““The U.S. Has Thousands of Energy Strategies”

  1. A thousand energy strategies, some successful and some not, will always be far superior to one misguided, unsuccessful energy strategy. A quick review of the success of US DOE in achieving its primary reason for existence should make that sufficiently obvious.

    The closest approach to an energy strategy in the US is currently being implemented by US EPA. “Isn’t that special?”

  2. Of course it is easy to be “one misguided, unsuccessful energy strategy.” My view is that a thousand strategies, some successful and some not, is necessarily better than any possible government chosen “well-designed, successful energy strategy,” at least in a world where information is dispersed and values are diverse (you know, like the world we live in).

  3. The key question in the quote is: “who is ‘we'”. The root of almost all bad thinking about politics and policy is the inability to answer this question, or its close cousin the reification of abstract nouns for collections of individuals such as society, people, and state.

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