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Toxic Politics
Partisan Bickering Scuppers Energy Efficiency Bill

Beltway politics derailed an eminently sensible bill yesterday. The Shaheen-Portman energy efficiency legislation has been more than three years in the making, and exists in that rare nexus of the environmentally friendly and the economically sensible. The NYT has more:

It was a bundle of small-bore provisions aimed at cutting homeowners’ energy use, utility bills and carbon footprints by, among other measures, making it easier for consumers to buy “smart metered” water heaters and making it cheaper for manufacturers to build energy-efficient cooling and heating systems.

The core of the bill enjoys bipartisan support, but typical of the 113th Congress, debate over unrelated amendments bogged down what should have been a no-brainer. Energy efficiency is one of the few low-hanging fruits remaining on the energy policy tree. Being more judicious with how we use energy saves money and cuts emissions. But both parties seized on the Shaheen-Portman bill as a chance to push through much more contentious issues. Two amendments in particular managed to derail the bill’s momentum: one that would approve the divisive (but ultimately sensible) Keystone XL pipeline, and another that would preempt climate regulations the Obama administration is expected to roll out soon.

Petty politics sank smart policy on Monday. We can do better.

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  • Fat_Man

    The last time they passed an energy efficiency bill, they gave us the @#$%&! corkscrew light bulbs. I am happy that another such idiocy did not pass.

    • El Gringo

      Costs twice as much, lasts half as long.

      • Fat_Man

        Costs twice? It is more like 8 times.

    • B-Sabre

      I just had two of them blow simultaneously on me, in the same fixture. What the hell?

      • Fat_Man

        I wish I were that lucky. I have been waiting for mine to burn out so I could be rid of the &%$#@! things.

  • Andrew Allison

    I beg to differ. The amendments were by no means unrelated. Keystone XL, by avoiding the necessity to transport oil by truck and train, would save far more energy (and pollution) than a brain-dead measure to make it easier for consumers to spend more. As to climate regulations, any effort to preempt climate regulations based on the, shall we say factually challenged, Administration climate report is to be applauded.

    • gabrielsyme

      They were pertinent, but they also effectively killed the legislation.

      The more important factor here is that Obama, more than any other president in history, has poisoned the well of bipartisanship. He’s abused his office through various illegal actions, expanded executive power further than any other president, has spurned every opportunity to act in a bipartisan manner, regularly demonises his political opponents, and has even failed to honour promises made to his political allies. The fish rots from the head.

      • Andrew Allison

        My point was that the fact that “They were pertinent, but they also effectively killed the legislation.” is a good thing [/grin]

  • PKCasimir

    The overwhelming liberal mindset that automatically assumes that the Congress of the United States should be involved in determining what kind of light bulbs Americans should use or whether homes should have “smart meters” installed in them is the type of thinking that got this country into the mess that it is in. The only way Congress can make it cheaper for manufacturers to build energy efficient heating and cooling systems is to cancel the legislative and governmental regulations that increase manufacturer costs. The “smarter” solution is for Congress to mind its own business, get the hell out of the way, rein in the legislative and regulatory meddling,and let Americans solve the problem.
    I have met my Congressman and both of my Senators and I know that they aren’t smarter than I am or most of the people I know; so why should I allow them to get involved in things they know nothing about and have no business getting involved in in the first place.

    • f1b0nacc1

      I have met my Congressman and both of my Senators…none of them are as smart as my dogs. Granted, I have corgis, so that sets the bar rather high, but still…

  • stanbrown

    If something is energy efficient, people will do it without government freebies. This bizarre notion that Congress and bureaucrats are smarter than the people defies logic and experience.

    • rheddles

      While I agree with you, there certain situations in which people will not behave as you suggest. The general situation results from high up front capital costs that result in long term operating efficiencies. When people buy a house, they rarely consider the long term annual costs of ownership. If they did, most houses would have geothermal hvac systems. But they do not because they significantly increase the up front cost of the home. Usually the purchaser ignores the operating savings and even when they don’t, they know they may not be in the house long enough to recapture the full amount of the capital investment and are unlikely to be paid for the residual by the subsequent purchaser. So the focus on short term results, low mortgage payment, results in an inefficient home.

  • rheddles

    I would hardly call the Keystone pipeline and climate regulations petty politics.

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