With the world's energy situation becoming more and more daunting by the day, and the U.S. more vulnerable to the caprices of wacky governments, our crackerjack House of Representatives offers an energy bill that a bat could see is worthless.
Perhaps the most ludicrous aspect of the bill the House passed Thursday is a $21 billion tax package that'd be imposed on the likes of ExxonMobil
Other controversial requirements:
- Utilities get 15% of their power from renewable energy by 2020. That's seen as punitive to people in areas of the country where wind and solar resources are slim.
- Increase ethanol use by a multiple of five in the next 15 years.
- Increase the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards on automobiles to 35 miles a gallon by 2020.
Fortunately, while neither the Senate nor the administration has demonstrated any real commitment to the issue of energy, both appear opposed to the House package. On that basis, passage of that package on anything but a watered-down basis isn't likely. President Bush has already said he'll veto any bill that includes a proposal to tax the energy companies to kingdom come.
My thesis dealt with attempts in Congress to dismember the integrated oil companies -- an attempt that was an explicable effort to punish OPEC for hiking crude prices. While the House isn't going quite that far, our energy problems today are far more onerous than when I took pen in hand years ago. And while the energy companies clearly shouldn't be supported fiscally by taxpayers, neither should they be singled out for persecution at this crucial time.
But there are no serious energy proposals in development in any U.S. government quarter. Fools would be especially wise to keep an eye on machinations in the Congress, as well as on their own investments in the energy group.
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