Thursday, May 30, 2002
Central air, central planningThe New York Times is annoyed (what else is new?) at the Bush Administration.
An administration staffed with aggressive corporate executives might normally be expected to embrace cutting-edge solutions to the country's energy problems — especially when those solutions are accessible and affordable.So what's a "cutting-edge solution," from the viewpoint of the editors of the New York Times? Why, federal regulation. What could be more cutting-edge than that? Aside maybe from a papal edict, I mean.
The Times is upset because the Bush Administration committed the unforgivable sin of proposing a mandatory 20% increase in fuel efficiency for central air conditioners. Why is that cause for alarm? Because one of Bill Clinton's eleventh hour decisions was to require a 30% increase. And thus, somehow, to the New York Times, a requirement that manufacturers increase efficiency by 20% reflects an "ideological suspicion of anything resembling top-down government." And ideology is always bad. Unless it's a liberal ideology.
And one of the main tenets of liberal ideology, incidentally, is that no cost is ever too high, as long as someone else is paying:
Most manufacturers have the ability to produce the more efficient units. But except for the second-largest maker, Goodman Manufacturing, none of the big companies wanted to proceed with the Clinton rule. They argued, and the Bush administration agreed, that the Clinton standard would make air-conditioners too expensive for low-income families and discourage others from replacing older systems. In actual fact, the up-front cost difference between the 20 and 30 percent standards is about $100 per unit — an amount that could be recovered through electricity savings in three to five years.Well, no big deal then. I wonder if the editors of the New York Times are willing to front me $100 now. I promise to pay them back in three to five years.
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