A number of authors over at dKos have produced an energy policy prescription for the USA. Over a series of 20 individual sections, the authors try to address the various ills which are either plaguing us now, or will shortly.
That's the good news. The bad news is that various parts of it are inaccurate and erroneous or just vague. Overall it is much more confused than it should be.
Take this phrase: "Innovation is an American birthright." What's that supposed to mean? Do the authors imply that there's some minimum standard of innovation that the public has a right to expect, along with universal health insurance? They may have been reaching for a sound-bite, but I think they fell victim to the post-modernist notion that verbiage defines reality. Words like that have no relationship to anything concrete, and don't belong in a policy analysis that's intended to gain support beyond their own set of like-minded followers.
Or this one: "Energize America will reduce imported oil and gas by 20%." What's the purpose of this: supporting the currency, reducing emissions, foreign policy goals? Why 20%? Why not 15%, or 50%? Was this number chosen based on what is feasible, or is it just marketing? Without stating what good it does and whether and how it can be accomplished, there's no reason for people to get behind it.
If you're like me and browse the EIA website regularly, you know that only a tiny fraction of US electricity (about 3%) is generated from oil. What does electricity from renewable sources have to do with oil imports? There's no obvious connection, and the authors decline to spell one out.
Energize America will provide 20% of electricity from renewable sources
America's reliance on imported oil threatens our national security and economic stability. Foreign relations, homeland security and our economy are intertwined with energy policy. America imports 60% of the oil it consumes, and U.S. demand continues to grow in the face of shrinking supply and rapidly growing global demand.
They betray an ignorance (or even denial) of economics:
The Carbon Reduction Act will formalize trading in CO2 certificates, and impose a gradually tightening regime of CO2 emissions standards.Either this regime would cover all CO2 emissions (in which case it amounts to a carbon tax, where the tax is the market price of a certificate) or it exempts some uses (and leaves loopholes for greater emissions). Worse, the whole certificate idea fails to reward early adopters; it may be possible to make reductions much earlier, but until the cap has fallen far enough to make the certificates valuable there's no financial savings. There's also market risk; if a company makes an investment based on a certain cost of certificates and the cost is much higher or lower, they could suffer losses and have to cut back operations. The "cap" mechanism does nothing to control emissions from international trading partners, so any significant expense would have the effect of driving production (and employment) overseas. All things considered, this proposal is half-baked at best and should be replaced with a worldwide uniform tax on releases of fossil or long-term fixed (e.g. old-growth forests, peat bogs) carbon.
They can't get either their facts or arithmetic right:
In truth, the US uses about 9 million barrels (~380 million gallons) of gasoline per day, or $3.8 million/day at 1¢/gallon. Even at the claimed 320 mmgd figure revenue would be about $96 million/month, not $10 million.
This act implements a compounded one-cent per gallon federal gasoline tax, with the tax increasing one cent a month for 10 years....
In the first month, the tax would be only one cent, barely noticeable, but with gasoline consumption at 320 million gallons per day, that single cent would generate almost $10 million a month for energy research.
What irks me is that these errors are present in a fourth draft of this piece. Sloppiness like this should make everyone question whether the authors should be allowed near any kind of real policy-making authority. My message to the Kossacks: if you want to be taken seriously, CLEAN UP YOUR ACT!
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