Thursday, March 17, 2011

After 40 Years, Time To Repeal All Energy Efficiency And MPG Rules

A comment I posted to The Wall Street Journal Opinion, "How Washington Ruined Your Washing Machine: The top-loading washer continues to disappear, thanks to the usual nanny state suspects" by Sam Kazman:
Whether it is washing machines, light bulbs or mile per gallons, the goal of the government intrusion and mandates into our daily lives is to reduce our use of water, electricity, gasoline, etc. If our use of the resources are not reduced then the legislated conservation policies are a failure and should be repealed.

Despite efficiency mandates for our cars and our household appliances including light bulbs, refrigerators, washing machines, air conditioning, hot water and heating systems, there has not been any decrease in per household energy use in the last 40 years. The reason is that people judge energy use by their total costs (electricity, gas, heating oil, propane, gasoline, etc.). As an appliance or a car's energy use declines, people use it more often, drive more miles, buy other household apparatus that use energy, or buy or rent a bigger living space.

This is a well-documented rebound effect. Efficiency improvements make energy use cheaper, creates a rebound effect and people use more of it. It is called the Jevons Effect or Jevons Paradox and known since at least the mid-1800s.

There is even a well-documented rebound effect for autos that as the MPG for cars increases, people drive more miles. They use the about the same amount of gasoline after as before the improvements.

Government energy efficiency mandates are a failure. I have yet to see a government agency publish statistics that American households are using less gasoline, less water, or less electricity, in total or per household. They can't because it has not happened.

Despite government and the EPA telling and mandating us to conserve, the reality is that all their programs, laws and regulations for us to use less per household have failed. The government should stop annoying us with all this conservation and energy efficiency rules because for 40 years they have failed to do what they were intended to do.

All energy efficiency and MPG laws and rules are failures and should be repealed. Let the market place decide what are scarce resources, price them accordingly and let consumers budget how much they want to spend on them. Accurate pricing of our resources are the best method for conservation.

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