Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Cap And Trade Calamities

Who's Bright Idea Was This?
Waxman-Markey proposes a new national tax of historic proportions
Related Links
Honoring the Father of the Real Green Revolution
Wind Power: An Expensive and Inefficient Way to Reduce CO2
Heritage's Research on the Cap and Trade Global Warming Bill

In today’s Cap- and-Trade Calamity, we continue on with our critique of government-mandated energy efficiency standards. The newest target is national lighting efficiency standards – detailed in Section 211 of the Waxman-Markey cap-and-trade bill.

Waxman-Markey dictates specific efficiency standards and specifications for specific light bulbs (Sec. 211, g); Sets regulations for several kinds of “luminaires,” “outdoor luminaires,” “portable lighting,” “portable light fixtures,” “light fixtures,” “GU-24 base lamps,” “art worth light fixture,” LED light engines – most of which can be found walking through your home (Sec. 211).

The bill also grants the Secretary of Energy tremendous leeway to essentially micromanage the profitability of private enterprise by determining what standards are “technologically feasible and economically justified” (Sec. 211, g4A). It includes details as specific as whether “portable luminaries that have internal power supplies” must have “zero standby power when the luminaire is turned off” (Sec. 211, 71 (20) ii1Cvii).

Dani Doane, Director of Government Relations at The Heritage Foundation, details some of the unintended consequences of light bulb micromanagement. Dani’s story is just one example behind the larger energy efficiency message that has been stated several times, but is worth repeating. If consumers believe a product will save them money, they’ll buy it. They don’t need the government telling them to do so and businesses do not need the government prematurely rushing products that may not be safe or may not work well into the marketplace.

Lights and power supply aren’t the only items up for new mandates. New water regulations may not be very far away. Waxman-Markey also sets forth new regulations for “portable electric spas,” “bottle type water dispensers,” “commercial hot food holding cabinets,” and “warm air furnaces” (Sec. 212). It also sets water efficiency standards for “showerheads, faucets, water closets, and urinals” as well as “clothes washers and dishwashers” (Sec. 213, a). It will be like the episode of Seinfeld when Jerry and Kramer’s building installs new low-flow showerheads and they have to buy high-powered ones on the black market.

Heritage Senior Policy Analyst Ben Lieberman provides an example of effective energy efficiency in the pre-Waxman-Markey days, when the government mandated auto low-flush toilets: “These water-stingy models were mandated under the 1992 Energy Policy Act. After the provisions took effect in 1994, millions of Americans remodeling their bathrooms came in for an unpleasant surprise. Many of the new water-saving toilets cost more and performed worse than the ones they replaced. Homeowners complained that they had to flush more than once, which, in addition to being annoying, cut into the water conservation purpose behind the law. It took many years before the bugs were worked out of the new toilet models and there are plenty of unhappy flushers out there.”

On Thursday, we’ll talk about the government’s plan for a carbon labeling program.

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