The Biden Administration’s Build Back Better (BBB) plan is at odds with affordable, reliable energy. The so-called largest effort to combat climate change in American history is a bribe-and-bully program to systemically substitute inferior energies for consumer-chosen, taxpayer-neutral ones.

Wind, solar, and electric vehicles top the “decarbonization” agenda. Each of these technologies has a long history, and each has been thoroughly outcompeted by oil, natural gas, and coal in their respective markets.

The four pillars of Biden’s energy BBB read as follows:

  • Delivers substantial consumer rebates and tax credits to reduce costs for middle class families shifting to clean energy and electrification.
  • Ensures clean energy technology – from wind turbine blades to solar panels to electric cars – will be built in the United States with American made steel and other materials, creating hundreds of thousands of good jobs here at home.
  • Advances environmental justice through a new Clean Energy and Sustainability Accelerator that will invest in projects around the country, while delivering 40% of the benefits of investment to disadvantaged communities, as part of the President’s Justice40 initiative.
  • Bolsters resilience and natural solutions to climate change through a historic investment in coastal restoration, forest management, and soil conservation.

Forget a true free market where entrepreneurs profitably serve consumers and anticipate and capitalize on change. Energy BBB is all about government grants, loans, rebates, tax credits, and procurement to promote “clean energy,” “environmental justice,” and “community capacity building.”

This is old song, new verse. For a half century, exaggerated alarm has attempted to demote oil and natural gas in favor of energies that are more costly, less efficient, and unreliable.

President Nixon’s mid-1971 message to Congress, “A Program to Ensure an Adequate Supply of Clean Energy in the Future,” called for “a balanced and imaginative research and development program.” Solar, synthetic fuels, and nuclear were targeted for fast-track government support.

“In order to have both environmental quality and an improving standard of living,” Nixon stated the next year, “we will need to develop new clean energy sources and to learn to use energy more efficiently.”

And then in 1973 came physical shortages, the Arab embargo, and a plethora of government proposals to move away from “rapidly depleting” oil and gas. But federal price controls, not the limits to nature, was the real energy problem.

The BBB energy plan of 2021 can best be compared to the Ford Foundation’s A Time to Choose: American’s Energy Future (1974). The multi-year $4 million study called for a new energy future in place of fossil-fuel reliance and business-as-usual usage.

Depletion, pollution, and man-made climate change were cited reasons for a regulatory takeover. Federal “national conservation goals” included a “zero energy growth” scenario. Short of a comprehensive energy plan, “the nation will inevitably suffer a series of energy related crises in the years ahead.”

Criticisms of A Time to Choose were swift. UCLA economist Armen Alchian complained about an uber-interventionist blueprint that

“…regrettably confuses energy and environmental issues, enters the Guinness Book of World Records for most errors of economic analysis and fact in one book, is arrogant in assertations of waste and inefficiency, is paternalistic in its conception of energy consumption management, is politically naive, and uses demagoguery.”

Herman Kahn criticized “a belief that the federal government is willing and able to create a coherent plan on a subject as complex as energy policy; a belief that they have deduced the public interest … and … can achieve the objectives of the plan.” M. A. Adelman complained about a study that “completely ignores the interaction of supply and demand [and] … market processes.”

And the dark decade of the 1970s went from President Nixon’s energy crisis, to President Ford’s Comprehensive Energy Strategy, to President Carter’s moral equivalent of war. Today, it is President Biden’s “existential threat of our time” as a rationale to demote the mega-energies of oil, natural gas, and coal.

Authoritarian energy policy is not the solution but the problem. The true path to energy sustainability is what these politicians refuse to see or consider: energy for the masses as freely chosen by them, not politicians.

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