Here’s a Bad Idea: Costly New Energy Regulations

Nov 9, 2012

Job fliers are displayed at a career fair in San Antonio, TX. Photographer: Eddie Seal/Bloomberg.

Two former EPA administrators hope the President’s second term means more rules and regulations to tie down energy use and its production. Talk about bad ideas.

On her “to-do list” for President Obama, former Republican governor of New Jersey Christine Todd Whitman wants Congress to try again in passing a cap-and-trade bill to limit greenhouse gases. But since such a proposal couldn’t get through Congress when it was completely controlled by Democrats in the President’s first two years in office, I’ll chalk this up as wishful thinking.

Oddly (or ironically I’m not sure), Whitman also hopes the President “follows through on his mention during the campaign of clearing out needless regulations that burden businesses throughout the country.” I hope he does too, but unlike Whitman, I’m not pushing for a massive set of new job-killing regulations on the economy.

One item on Carol Browner’s wish list is imposing federal regulations on hydraulic fracturing, the technology that helps extract oil and natural gas from shale. She writes, “Right now states are responsible for overseeing fracking. That means there could be 20 to 30 different state regulations imposed on fracking businesses.” Yet she offers no examples of harm from states failing to properly regulate fracturing or what the benefits would be to one-size-fits-all federal rules.

While not directly addressing Browner, Mark Green’s post on Energy Tomorrow makes a useful retort:

[N]ew, unnecessary federal regulation of hydraulic fracturing could limit the potential of oil and natural gas produced from shale – a key to American energy security and perhaps the president’s best chance to achieve his goals of reducing oil imports and emissions of carbon dioxide.

Neither Whitman nor Browner mentions the jobs that are being supported by the energy boom. Instead, both simply want more rules on a shining star of our economy.

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