Saturday, October 24, 2020

Transitioning Away from the Oil Industry ...


... would be a "smaller-government" thing, if done correctly.

Of course, that's not how Joe Biden means it or frames it. He's thinking in terms of having the government pick energy winners and losers, through regulation and subsidy, with the environment as the excuse.

One need not pick a side in the climate change debate, though, to favor "transitioning away from the oil industry," because if it's done right, it's the right thing to do.

And the right way to do it is to quit subsidizing the oil industry.

Instead of the state spending hundreds of billions of dollars of American taxpayer money every year on military presences in oil-rich foreign countries to "secure" the supplies for the oil industry's use, and the state strong-arming those foreign governments to tamp down supply so that prices stay high, switch to a non-interventionist foreign policy. Let the oil companies pay for their own damn armies, etc.

Instead of the state entering into sweetheart deals with the oil companies domestically, under which the companies get cheap leases on drilling rights on "public" land, under which the state steals private property and hands it to the oil companies as pipeline easements using eminent domain, and under which the taxpayer picks up the costs of e.g. roads to make the drilling leases accessible, auction off that "public" land, in plausibly homestead-size plots, to natural persons only. If the oil companies want to drill there, let them work out leases, easements, etc. with real owners instead of with the squatter gang known as government.

Oil and other fossil fuels are probably the most heavily subsidized energy source on the planet, even more so than nuclear energy's massive insurance subsidies under Price-Anderson and so forth. I don't approve of subsidies for wind or solar, either, but their subsidies are a drop of water in the lake compared to the oil companies' welfare checks.

Cut ALL the subsidies off -- wind, solar, ethanol, nuclear, coal, oil, gas -- and let the market work things out. Do that, and oil will quickly get FAR less competitive.


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