Lately, people in and out of the federal government have expressed nostalgia for the good old days of bipartisan lawmaking. Today, we have legislative gridlock, and an ideologically polarized Congress; back then Congress got things done.
There is some truth to this, but what were the results of bipartisanship?
With respect to energy, the answer is mostly awful.
Here’s a list of some major pieces of energy legislation (and the votes) of the last 40+ years; commentary to follow:
|Bill/Year||Final House Vote||Final Senate Vote|
|Emergency Petroleum Allocation Act of 1973 (EPAA)||348-46||83-3|
|Energy Policy and Conservation Act of 1975 (EPCA)||300-103||65-27|
|Crude Oil Windfall Profit Tax Act (1980)||302-107||66-31|
|Magnetic Fusion Energy Engineering Act of 1980 (MFEE)||365-7||Acclamation|
|Energy Security Act of 1980 (SFC)||317-93||78-12|
|Comprehensive Energy Policy Act of 1992 (EPAct 1992)||381-37||93-3|
|Energy Policy Act of 2005 (EPAct 2005)||275-156||74-26|
|Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (EISA)||314-100||86-8|
The table shows there was plenty of bipartisanship.…
“[P]ermanence and stability are the cardinal virtues of the legal rules that make private innovation and public progress possible. To my mind there is no doubt that a legal regime that embraced private property and freedom of contract is the only one that in practice can offer that permanence and stability.”
– Richard Epstein. Simple Rules for a Complex World, Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2004, p. x1.
In U.S. Energy Policy and the Pursuit of Failure–and in a recent blog post at MasterResource–I have argued that for government energy policy to be effective it has to be modest—modest especially in what policy can be expected to accomplish.
But for modest policy to be effective, there must be some basic understandings about what energy policy should or should not entail.…
[Ed. note: George P. Shultz has long been an errant voice on energy and climate issues. A leading Republican climate alarmist, Shultz’s energy views from decades ago, still held, are the subject of the post below.]
“Shultz writes: ‘The president requested service stations to voluntarily suspend the sale of gasoline on Saturdays and Sundays. The 90 percent compliance with his request resulted in long lines at gas stations on weekdays.’
Hogwash! The ‘long gas lines’ were the result U.S. government central planning with respect to oil. Notice how often those long gas lines have returned since controls ended in the 1980s.”
When it comes to energy policy, President Obama seems to have learned nothing from the past. His ideas closely resemble the grandiose, failed policies of the 1970s.
But such historical ignorance knows no party. …