Dear Senators Shaheen and Portman:
On behalf of more than two million Americans for Prosperity activists in all 50 states, I am writing in strong opposition to the Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act (S. 1392). This legislation intends to make commercial and residential buildings and manufacturing processes more energy efficient, but its approach of using government incentives is entirely misguided.
In providing taxpayer subsidies and government mandates for upgrading buildings and manufacturing processes, your legislation overlooks the government’s terrible track record of predicting future trends in economy. A prime case in point is the government’s failure to nudge Americans into electric cars. Despite receiving billions in federal and state incentives, sales of electric cars fall short of expectations. GM projected selling a paltry 10,000 Volts in 2011, but it only sold 7,700. The company planned to sell 60,000 in 2012, but it only sold 23,000. With your legislation, we’re poised to repeat this mistake.
Not only is this kind intervention bad in practice, it’s bad in principle. Government should not tell businesses and homeowners how to operate, as it does not know their trade-offs, budget constraints, and subjective preferences, nor does it always have the incentives to get things right. People and businesses should pursue efficiency upgrades if it suits their economic interest, not when a paternalistic government nudges them to do so.
Your legislation also authorizes $10 million in grants to universities and community colleges to establish programs to train people to implement and enforce the stricter building codes. This, too, is concerning. Politicians and government planners have no special knowledge of what knowledge, skills, and abilities will be valuable to future employers. This program will create a surplus of workers that are trained for industries that are not economically viable.
Efficiency improvements will come from market forces, not government intervention and handouts. Americans for Prosperity is opposed to your energy efficiency legislation, S. 1392, and I urge your colleagues to oppose its passage.
Christine Harbin Hanson
Federal Policy Analyst
Americans for Prosperity