Posted on by Tom Shepstone
Shepstone Management Company, Inc.
Congress is up to no good. The American Energy Innovation Act, paraded as bipartisan, is nothing but green virtue signaling and dangerous.
The 10th Amendment to the United States Constitution says the following:
The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.
James Madison thought this amendment was superfluous; that it was already obvious the Constitution conferred no rights on the Federal government that were not specifically enumerated in the document. Since then, Congress has made a mockery of the amendment by claiming the right to regulate interstate commerce, which is enumerated, allows it to do anything it wants. The proposed American Energy Innovation Act offers a perfect illustration of this corruption. It is unnecessary. It wastes money. It picks winners and losers designated by lobbyists writing the bill. It is profoundly dangerous.
This legislation was brought to my attention by a good friend who noted it’s been endorsed by the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions and The Nature Conservancy, which is the first sign of danger. Microsoft (Bill Gates) has also signed on, which might be seen as a red flashing stop light given his self-perception as one of the masters of the universe. The mere fact it’s bi-partisan in this day and age tells us it’s a creature from the swamp, where special interests write the bills, no legislator reads them and they are voted up or down based on campaign contributions.
The big giveaway, though, is the length of the bill, which is now 555 pages but could end up being far longer. There are 221 proposed amendments for crying out loud. Regardless, whenever a bill is more than a handful of pages of length, we know it’s stuffed with rewards, surprises and tricks created by lobbyists. As Nancy Pelosi lectured us, “we have to pass the bill to find out what’s in it,” which Churchill’s explained by noting “the length of this document defends it well against the risk of its being read.”
Such is the American Energy Innovation Act. It is one large compendium of green virtual signaling and green giveaways of our money. It’s purpose is to bully our states into doing stupid things that will increase the cost of housing, incentivize green political correctness and open the door to regulating oil and gas out-of-buildings by surrendering authority to anonymous building code writers. Peruse the legislation and you’ll find it’s pure legislative malarkey, tailored to include buzz words such as energy efficiency, innovation and geothermal energy, combined with obscure references that are designed to hide what’s really going on.
Then, there are the amendments, which, if adopted, will swell the size of the document and its complexity even further. One called the “Portman Amendment,” for instance, is a legislative atrocity. You can read the whole thing here, but let me illustrate with a few examples (emphasis added):
Section 303 of the Energy Conservation and Production Act (42 U.S.C. 6832) (as amended by section 1034(a)) is amended–
(1) by striking paragraph (17) (as redesignated by that section) and inserting the following:
“(17) Model building energy code.–The term `model building energy code’ means a voluntary building energy code or standard developed and updated by interested persons, such as the code or standard developed by–
(A) the Council of American Building Officials, or its legal successor, International Code Council, Inc.;
(B) the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers; or
(C) other appropriate organizations.”
Everything is convoluted and hard to follow, of course. The proper way to do it is to show an entire section and then, by cross-outs and insertions, illustrate the changes, but that would be too easy to follow. Putting that aside, though, note the use of the word “voluntary,” which is meaningless, as states such as New York and Pennsylvania that have already adopted international building codes will simply adopt whatever is generated virtually automatically. And, what we see very clearly here is legislation being written by unelected (indeed, not even officially appointed) “interested persons” and “other appropriate organizations.” The 10th Amendment now means not only that the Feds can do whatever they damn well please, but they can pass that power onto the unnamed whenever they wish and, as for the States and the people; well, they will obey. This alone should be cause to throw the whole thing out, but there’s more:
(A) In general.–Not later than 2 years after the date of publication of a revision to a model building energy code, each State or Indian tribe shall certify whether the State or Indian tribe, respectively, has reviewed and updated the energy provisions of the building code of the State or Indian tribe, respectively.
(B) Demonstration.–The certification shall include a demonstration of whether the energy savings for the code provisions that are in effect throughout the territory of the State or Indian tribe meet or exceed the energy savings of the updated model building energy code.
So much for voluntary; this is a proposed Federally imposed mandate by a Congress that has zero enumerated authority to do so. And, the Feds are going to enforce their rules:
(3) Achievement of compliance.–A State or Indian tribe shall be considered to achieve full compliance under paragraph (1) if–
(A) at least 90 percent of building space covered by the code in the preceding year substantially meets all the requirements of the applicable code specified in paragraph (1), or achieves equivalent or greater energy savings level; or
(B) the estimated excess energy use of buildings that did not meet the applicable code specified in paragraph (1) in the preceding year, compared to a baseline of comparable buildings that meet this code, is not more than 5 percent of the estimated energy use of all buildings covered by this code during the preceding year.
This is followed by procedures for the Feds to ensure the states do exactly as they’re told. Money is thrown at the states, too, of course, so to perfect the carrot and stick approach to making the people follow the rules. The fact the Feds have no business getting involved in building codes and no money to give other than funds borrowed from our great-great-grandchildren is irrelevant.
But, it is the tone of the legislation that is even worse:
The Secretary, in consultation with building science experts from the National Laboratories and institutions of higher education, designers and builders of energy-efficient residential and commercial buildings, code officials, code and standards developers, and other stakeholders, shall undertake a study of the feasibility, impact, economics, and merit of–
(1) code and standards improvements that would require that buildings be designed, sited, and constructed in a manner that makes the buildings more adaptable in the future to become zero-net-energy after initial construction, as advances are achieved in energy-saving technologies;
The intent here, in other words, is to make us design our buildings to accept non-economic renewables in the future on the theory they might be economical in the future. It could mean strengthening your roof to support solar even though you don’t want solar and it makes no sense without subsidies paid for by your great-great-grandchildren. It could mean duplicating your electrical and plumbing systems to accommodate appliances that don’t use gas or propane, even though those are more efficient, more economic and more environmentally sound when considering full effects in the real world.
It could mean a lot of things and the only thing we know now is that every single one of them will increase housing costs and indirectly further subsidize already uneconomical renewables. Moreover, what is studied today by “other stakeholders” (code for special interests) will become the rule tomorrow; that’s the way the Feds roll, and it will inevitably lead to more states and cities banning the use of gas and propane in new businesses and homes, before requiring the people to replace their furnaces with geothermal systems and other nonsensical energy systems.
Then, there’s this, outrageously offered under the guise of protecting small businesses while smothering them:
In establishing building code targets under paragraph (2), the Secretary shall develop and adjust the targets in recognition of potential savings and costs relating to–
(A) efficiency gains made in appliances, lighting, windows, insulation, and building envelope sealing;
(B) advancement of distributed generation and on-site renewable power generation technologies;
(C) equipment improvements for heating, cooling, and ventilation systems;
(D) building management systems and smart technologies to reduce energy use; and
(E) other technologies, practices, and building systems that the Secretary considers appropriate regarding building plug load and other energy uses.
Innocuous though it may sound, there is enough power in this short section for a Democrat Congress to destroy the natural gas industry that has made us strong and energy independent and it’s being advanced in a Republican Senate! Shame on them! Moreover, why aren’t conservative organizations making a principled stand against the unscientific elements being proposed here? And, why aren’t utility, fossil fuel, and other related companies objecting to the attacks on fossil fuels imbedded here? This American Energy Innovation Act is crap legislation and it should die a miserable death in the quicksand of the swamp.