The Corner

Regulatory Policy

A Fun Game with Democrats’ Energy Policy

President Joe Biden delivers a speech during a visit to the Port of Baltimore, Md., November 10, 2021. (Evelyn Hockstein/Reuters)

The Biden administration has released oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve in a bid to reduce gas prices. It won’t work.

They’re releasing 50 million barrels, which is a little less than three days’ worth of American oil consumption. But it gives the shiny veneer of Doing Something, which is all Democrats can do given their completely incoherent energy policy.

Say what you will about Republicans, their energy policy is fairly easy to understand. Energy should be cheap, and it should come from every source that’s economically feasible. As far as possible, it should be produced domestically, or at least within North America.

Democrats, on the other hand, seem to hold to a set of beliefs that is completely incoherent:

  1. Americans use too much fossil fuels. The government should subsidize green energy to speed Americans’ transition away from fossil fuels.
  2. Gasoline should be as cheap as possible. The federal gas tax should not be increased. The government should release oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to bring down gas prices.
  3. The federal government should fund more highway infrastructure, which will make it easier to travel by car.
  4. Infrastructure that transports petroleum, refined petroleum products (such as gasoline), and natural gas should not be built. Cancel Keystone XL, and make it harder to build new pipelines.
  5. Domestic production of fossil fuels should decrease. Oil and natural-gas companies are evil, and their profits are too high. Fracking is bad. Offshore drilling is bad. The federal government should use every tool available to put coal companies out of business.
  6. Foreign production of fossil fuels should increase. OPEC should pump more oil to bring down the global price. Developing countries — including China, home to about one-fifth of the world’s population — should not be held to the same emissions standards as developed countries.
  7. Fossil-fuel use is a global problem that demands a global solution.
  8. Nuclear power is bad. Chernobyl!
  9. There should be a carbon tax. There’s a social cost of carbon that is not internalized by the current market system.
  10. We will not seriously try to pass any legislation to actually implement a carbon tax. It’s unpopular and regressive.

A fun game is to see if you can coherently believe more than four of these items simultaneously. I think 1-4-5-9 probably works. It’s also probably the least-popular combination possible. See what you can come up with!

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