Document:California Press Release 8 May 2001 Feds Face Shortage of Ideas On Energy Mess

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14547 Titus Street, Suite 214
Panorama City, CA 91402
For immediate release: May 8, 2001
For additional information:
Juan Ros, Executive Director
Phone: (818) 782-8400

Feds face "shortage" of ideas, courage on California energy mess, Libertarians say

LOS ANGELES -- Pop quiz: what has the federal government proposed to help solve the California energy crisis? (A) Caps on electricity prices; (B) More regulation; (C) Do nothing; (D) All of the above?

The correct answer is "D" -- and that is precisely the problem, the Libertarian Party of California charged.

"Federal lawmakers and regulators are displaying their own shortages these days -- shortages of ideas and courage when it comes to the energy mess," said Libertarian state chairman Aaron Starr. "While this is largely a state problem, there are still positive steps the federal government can take to ease the crisis."

Last month the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) ordered a one-year cap on electricity sold to California during power emergencies. Thirty members of Congress, including four Republicans from California, are cosponsoring a bill that would impose federal price controls in Western-state electricity markets. In a related move Senator Dianne Feinstein (D), vowing to combat "energy gluttons," introduced a bill that would require sport utility vehicles to meet the same fuel efficiency standards as cars by 2007.

Finally, the Bush administration has been saying for months that the electricity crisis was created by the state of California and the federal government should not interfere. "In one sense, President Bush is right. California needs to solve its own mess," Starr agreed. "But that doesn't mean the federal government should just sit back and do nothing."

What? Is the Libertarian Party advocating federal involvement in state matters? "Yes -- if that 'involvement' is defined as removing federal regulation over energy policy," Starr explained.

Among the proposals that could be implemented at the federal level, as outlined by the Washington, D.C.-based Cato Institute and supported by California Libertarians, are:

  • Repeal of the Federal Power Act of 1935 and abolition of FERC
  • Privatization of all federal power marketing authorities and federal power generating facilities
  • Elimination of tax preferences for municipal utilities and electricity cooperatives
  • Elimination of all price subsidies, tax incentives, and regulatory preferences for renewable energy

Concluded Starr, "Libertarians believe that minimal regulation at both the federal and state levels is important if we ever hope to have an ample supply of electricity at competitive prices."