The Journal: Mistaken on Energy Bill

On Sunday, the Albuquerque Journal editorialized in favor of (subscription needed) the Senate-passed Energy Bill, calling it “Smarter Energy Policy.” The Bill, which stripped out tax hikes on the oil and gas industry and requirements that utilities generate 15 percent of their power from renewable sources by 2020, may be “smarter” than the House version which contained those provisions, but it is not really a smart bill at all.
Specifically, there is no “Merry Christmas” for motorists as a result of new fuel economy mandates. After all, if Americans wanted smaller, more fuel-efficient cars, they’d buy them right now. Efficiency has increased steadily over time and there is no magic formula for jumping average fuel economy to 35 gallons by 2020. For the record, I drive a standard shift Ford Focus and it is no skin off my nose, but the federal government should not be sticking their nose into our car purchasing decisions!
Even more problematic than the automobile efficiency provision is the mandate that 36 billion gallons of “renewable fuel” come from some source other than corn by 2022. The Journal congratulates Congress for passing a mandate that won’t drive food costs up, but what exactly are we going to use for our cars? We already know that corn-based ethanol is not great for the environment, will the next best option really be any more efficient than corn?