Federal Energy Policy for America (Part III: Cato’s priorities–and a few more)
Editor note: This three-part series began with A Free Market Energy Vision (Part I: Worldview) and continued with Energy for a Free Society: The ‘American Energy Act’ (Part II: Real World Reform).
In their essay on energy policy for the 111th Congress, Jerry Taylor and Peter Van Doren of the libertarian Cato Institute offered nine priorities to move the United States from energy statism to free energy markets.
But there are more areas of pro-private pro-market exchange reform on the federal level. I offer four–perhaps readers can add more in comments.
Nine Policy Recommendations (Cato)
- Open up public lands currently off limits to the oil and gas industry in the outer continental shelf and the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) for exploration and drilling,
- Repeal Corporate Average Fuel Efficiency (CAFE) standards along with all other energy conservation mandates,
- Repeal subsidies for all energy industries including oil, gas, coal, nuclear, and renewable energies of all kinds,
- Repeal fuel consumption mandates for ethanol and resist prospective consumption mandates for other renewable energies,
- Eliminate all targeted public energy research and development programs and replace them with a generalized tax credit for private research and development undertakings,
- Transfer the maintenance of the nuclear weapons stockpile from the Department of Energy to the Department of Defense and privatize the national laboratories,
- Sell the oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve and shut the program down,
- Eliminate the Department of Energy and all its programs, and
- Refuse appeals to impose new taxes and/or regulations on energy producers and manufacturers.
I would add these priorities:
- Abolish the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), and repeal FERC’s enabling laws such as the Federal Power Act of 1935 and Natural Gas Act of 1938, to deregulate interstate gas transmission and interstate power flows. Other federal laws that should be repealed to introduce a free market in energy include the Public Utility Holding Company Act of 1935 and the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act of 1978.
- Complete the privatization of the Naval Petroleum Reserves; (1)
- Privatize all other federal lands containing energy mineral resources (oil, natural gas, coal, shale oil, shale gas, etc.), and
- Sell the federal power marketing agencies: Bonneville Power Administration; Southeastern Power Administration; Southwestern Power Administration; and the Western Area Power Administration.
There are numerous other federal laws that impact energy non-specifically–that can wait until another day. But what other federal energy-specific laws should be considered for repeal?
And what would federal privatization mean for government revenue and debt reduction? Any estimates of asset values that might exist would be very interesting to know about.
(1) In 1998, pursuant to Congressional authority, the federal government (U.S. DOE) sold its share of the Elk Hills field in California to Occidental Petroleum Corporation for $3.65 billion–the largest privatization of Federal property in U.S. history.
In 2000/2001, the Department returned the undeveloped Naval Oil Shale Reserve #2 in Utah to the Northern Ute Indian Tribe in the largest transfer of federal property to Native Americans in the last century.
Most recently, the Department of Energy transferred two Naval Oil Shale Reserves–both in Colorado–to the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Land Management for commercial mineral leasing, primarily for natural gas production and future petroleum exploration.