Alex Epstein’s Prescriptions for Republican Success on Energy - The Objective Standard

Alex Epstein (author of The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels) has written a crucially important Forbes article titled “How Republicans Can Make Energy a Winning Issue in 2016.” This lengthy essay provides the means by which Republicans can reframe the argument on energy in an explicitly pro-human way and thus make it a winning issue for themselves and for the entire human race.

“The essential dynamic of the debate over energy policy,” writes Epstein, “is that Democrats proactively promote an overwhelming number of policy initiatives and the Republicans reactively wage a defensive battle on each one, usually unsuccessfully.”

Consider the following ongoing policy battles: the Clean Power Plan, methane regulations, fracking bans, ozone regulations, pipeline blocking, new pipeline regulations, new train regulations, renewable fuel standards, wind production tax credit, solar subsidies, CAFE standards, green building standards, energy efficiency mandates, “green jobs” schemes.

All of these policy initiatives were initiated by Democrats, and Democrats are winning on most of them. Even when they “lose,” it doesn’t change the trajectory; Democrats have an unlimited supply of new anti-development, anti-freedom initiatives to propose if the old ones fail. Witness the short-lived “victory” of blocking a particular anti-fossil fuel proposal (cap-and-trade) being followed by a host of Executive Orders and international agreements to accomplish the same goal.

Since the Democrats make all the proposals and the Republicans react, Democrats control the direction of energy policy—against development and freedom, particularly the development of our most important form of energy, fossil fuels.

This is disastrous for energy policy, which affects the well-being of every other industry and ultimately every human being on the planet. More broadly, it is disastrous for economic freedom across the board, because by controlling the energy debate Democrats make energy a winning issue for their party and its policies. When one party is proposing all the new ideas in the name of “progress” and the other side is just saying “no” to most or all of the new ideas, the proactive party seems far more appealing and gains the moral high ground—and votes.

Epstein goes on to give examples of this and to show that “So long as the Republicans’ policy positioning is reactive and overwhelmed and the Democrats’ is proactive and overwhelming, we are courting disaster with this country’s energy future and with every election—especially the Presidential election.” . . .

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