Gas at $6 per gallon? Get ready.

By | June 20, 2007

Get ready for Congress to solve the energy problem just as it has previously solved the illegal immigration problem. A bill being debated in the Senate this week is described by some of its supporters as “far from perfect” but “a good start.”

A good start, yes, to higher gas and food prices, to new taxes and to forcing consumers to pay for high-cost “renewable” energy sources — solar and wind, for example — that are to energy independence what bicycle trails are to traffic-congestion relief.

The Senate bill, grandiosely and falsely dubbed the Renewable Fuels, Consumer Protection and Energy Efficiency Act of 2007, should come with a section prohibiting price gouging — by Congress. The legislation “could result in significantly higher prices for gasoline consumers,” according to Heritage Foundation researchers. “A review of S. 1419, including the just-completed section on tax changes, reveals that the bill could increase the price of regular unleaded gasoline from $3.14 per gallon (the early May national average) to $6.40 in 2016 — a 104 percent increase,” write Heritage Foundation researchers William W. Beach and Shanea Watkins.

“Gas consumers can expect to pay between $3.16 and $3.79 a gallon for gas in 2008 after adding in the estimated impact of the Senate energy bill. By 2016, all states can expect gas prices in excess of $6. As a result of S. 1419, consumers would spend an average of $1445 more per year on gasoline in 2016 than in 2008,” they write.

With the the concurrence of the ranking Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, Charles Grassley of Iowa, and others (Gordon Smith of Oregon, Olympia Snowe of Maine and Pat Roberts of Kansas, all Republican), the committee is proposing $29 billion in new taxes on oil companies. The tax is to subsidize wind and solar power, hybrid vehicles and biofuel. The bill calls for a sharp increase in the use “renewables,” including heavily-subsidized ethanol, up from 8.5 billion gallons next year to 36 billion gallons by 2022. And it requires, too, that utilities would be required to buy at least 15 percent of their energy from wind, solar and other “renewable” sources.

Ethanol requires more energy to produce than it generates as fuel, to say nothing of the water required for irrigation in areas like drought-stricken South Georgia. It’s subsidized by taxpayers with a 51-cents per gallon tax credit, and it’s subsidized again at the pump with a 54-cents-a-gallon tariff on imported ethanol. Go figure.

The provision, too, that would “protect” consumers from “price gouging” is an invitation to price controls. And that’s an invitation to economic disaster. This comes, incidentally, despite the fact that no reputable studies establish that price gouging has occurred.

Borders were made secure and the illegal immigration problem was solved in 1986. And now the energy problem is about to be solved, too.