Energy market doesn’t need Congress’ help

By Freedom Newspapers

Always in search of a gimmicky way to mass market lousy ideas, some members of Congress have been lining up behind something called the 25 X 25 plan.

The plan would set the country on the course of getting 25 percent of its electricity and motor fuels from so-called renewables by 2025.

It’s relatively risk-free mandating such ambitious goals when they don’t have to be met for 18 years. By the time they are revealed to be costly blunders, most people will have forgotten from whence they originated.

But we now have a little better idea of the plan’s possible costs and impacts, thanks to a study by the Energy Information Administration.

Assuming these benchmarks can be met — and that’s a leap of faith, since it will require a major overhaul of the nation’s energy infrastructure — the report found that 25 X 25 would reduce carbon dioxide emissions from motor vehicles 14 percent below projected levels.

Emissions from power plants would be reduced 22 percent below projected levels.

These seemingly modest reductions wouldn’t come cheap. The mandates would take a nearly $300 billion bite out of gross domestic production — or the economy — between 2009 and 2030, based on current forecasts.

Is it worth it? Will it put a dent in greenhouse gas emissions worldwide? Will it have all seemed worthwhile if, in 2030, the human link to climate change has been disproven?

It’s hard to say. But at least the report acknowledges there will be costs and trade-offs — a point missing from so much of the energy policy debate.

And the uncertainties are considerable. “Big changes in the energy system, especially when implemented quickly, come with numerous uncertainties, the impacts of which may not be fully captured in this study,” notes the report.

This shift toward renewables would undoubtedly occur, albeit at a more modest pace, if politicians left such matters to markets, prices and consumer choice. But it would occur with more efficiency, at a lower cost to taxpayers and with less government coercion and control — which is why this is the better way to get us from here to there.