Every four years, presidential candidates promise to “get real” with energy policy. Since Richard Nixon, every president has vowed that we would have “energy independence” within the foreseeable future. Yet it is rarely asked: Why is the federal government so involved in energy in the first place?

As with other commodities, energy is best managed by the marketplace, and the more centralized the government that attempts to regulate and ration it, the worse things get. Is it any wonder that we are often pressured to save energy in our homes to avoid blackouts? What other product is there where the producers urge us to buy less than we want to?

The federal government, in particular, has no legitimate role in handling America’s energy needs. The Department of Energy has only been around since the late 1970s—there is no reason to believe we could not do fine without it. Meanwhile, every major federal plan we hear being proposed—be it ethanol, solar panels, more nuclear plants, or some other form—represents some economic interests pushing to have their products subsidized by a captive market, rather than competing in the economy on price, quality, and safety. Central planning and corporatism are not the path to cheap or renewable energy, nor to a United States somehow made more secure because it doesn’t need to buy its energy from abroad, most of which comes from friendly sources like Canada anyway.

Learn more about Energy problems and solutions:

“Federal Fisker Failure, Continued”
K. Lloyd Billingsley (MyGovCost) April 29, 2013

“Think Ethanol is Environmentally Friendly? Think Again.”
William F. Shughart II (Miami Herald) March 12, 2013

“Smoke and Mirrors in Energy Policy”
Ivan Eland (The Independent Institute) June 13, 2012

“Obama’s Schizo Energy Policy: Counterproductive Approach to Oil Pollution”
William F. Shughart II (The Washington Times) May 24, 2011

“Taking the Wind Out of Energy”
Alvaro Vargas Llosa; December 2, 2009

“A Missed Opportunity on Energy”
Robert H. Nelson (The Baltimore Sun) February 17, 2010

“Electric Choices: Deregulation and the Future of Electric Power”
Andrew N. Kleit (book summary)

See Also:

The Independent Institute’s Archive on Energy