Sixth, we need to exploit the vast unfulfilled opportunities for energy efficiency in electric motors, light bulbs, consumer appliances and home heating and cooling. Energy efficiency programs in California and Japan during the past 20 years have shown the remarkable gains that can be achieved with concerted effort, often at large savings to consumers.
The bill covers all of these topics, but also countless sideshows and boondoggles. There is continuing support for a corn-based biofuel policy, which wastes food supplies and taxpayer dollars without doing much to reduce carbon emissions (chalk this policy up to the political weight of the Iowa caucus).
The legislation proposes many important reports, studies and analyses by the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Energy, the Office of Management and Budget and the National Academy of Sciences within a year or so of the legislation’s passage. The truth is that our government should be preparing such reports even without a congressional mandate. The reason we have a 1,426-page bill rather than a strategic 250-page bill is that the executive branch has so far proposed no targeted low-carbon strategy.
The administration has so far let Congress do what it does best: to put everything into the stew, with every interest group stroked, compensated or subsidized, but without prioritizing the key steps that will determine success or failure in overhauling the energy system. The administration has again shown its deft political touch in nudging the draft legislation through the House and on to the Senate. Now the challenge cries out for a similarly deft touch in policy design and management.
This article was originally published with the title Carbon.