Secretary of Energy-designate Rick Perry
By Peter Z. Grossman, Professor of economics at Butler University.
“When former Texas governor Rick Perry ran for president in 2012, he promised he’d abolish the U.S. Department of Energy (at least when he could remember it)
Why would anyone want to abolish the DOE? . . . The DOE was conceived in dark and pessimistic beliefs and forecasts that have proven totally wrong. As Obama might say, the DOE is on the wrong side of history. . .
The original legislation justified a Department of Energy because:
1) we were rapidly running out of fossil fuels, especially oil and natural gas;
2) as a consequence of this we were becoming increasingly dependent on energy imports — dependence that made us vulnerable to embargoes and political blackmail; and
3) so therefore we needed “a strong national [read government-directed] energy program.”
Even before fracking proved the dire warnings to be utterly wrong, we had for the most part taken care of our energy dependence. We significantly reduced any possible vulnerability to an embargo by diversifying our suppliers. . .
In the meantime, we’ve endured wasteful, panicked policies such as massive subsidies for the wind and solar power, and electric cars. Worst of all, Congress has saddled consumers with ethanol subsidies and mandates. These boondoggles cost us billions of dollars, and none of them are commercially viable in their own right. In fact, the . . . only energy breakthrough of the last four decades has been fracking. . .
With the fears of foreign energy or energy shortages waning in 2009, President Obama sought to gin up a sense of crisis over climate change. . . Just as many experts began to downplay the catastrophe rhetoric, the president overplayed it. . . He chose to impose energy legislation through the DOE and the EPA with, as he said, “a pen and … a phone.”
The Trump administration can undo or minimize much of the DOE’s Obama-era legislating on energy.
Many would argue that the DOE does some good, even essential work. It watches over nuclear waste, for example. And there is some useful research and development going on at many of the DOE laboratories. But any valuable work done by the DOE could be carved off into independent agencies (FERC, NRC, ERDA, etc.)
Overall, the rationale for the DOE needs to be rethought and restated in ways that make it sensible for the 21st century. . . If the Trump administration can’t articulate a good reason for the continued existence of the DOE, then we should follow Gov. Perry’s inclination and abolish it.
Actually, I’d like BOTH DoEs to be abolished as wasteful, counterproductive, and not authorized by the Constitution. I’m just sick and tired of carrying the weight of the Administrative State! (THANKS, Woodrow Wilson, NOT!!!)