Senator Harry Reid (D-NV)

As many predicted, Majority Leader Harry Reid’s (D–NV) new energy bill contains neither a cap-and-trade program nor a renewable electricity standard (RES). But in a complete change of direction, the bill has made coal, the nemesis of the cap and trade/RES crowd, an alternative fuel. So now, to the list of politically correct alternatives such as wind and solar, we can now add coal.

In addition to the bill’s plethora of subsidies, tax credits, and other “incentives” to increase the production of electric vehicles, the bill, according to a draft summary, Section 2115 of the Clean Energy Jobs and Oil Company Accountability Act:

directs the federal government to count electricity used to refuel a plug-in electric drive motor vehicle as an alternative fuel.

In other words, when you plug in your brand new, $41,000 battery-powered Chevy Volt, that affordable, reliable electricity charging your battery will be considered “alternative” energy. There’s a good chance that you will be juicing up with electricity produced from burning coal. In fact, 47 percent of our electricity comes from coal generation. In states like West Virginia, Kentucky, North Dakota, Wyoming, and Indiana, it’s over 90 percent. The provision to include coal as an alternative fuel demonstrates the hypocrisy and short-sightedness often found in congressional legislation. But these knee-jerk reactions have long-term economic consequences.

American energy consumers should be thankful that cap and trade and renewable electricity mandates are not included in this bill. But Reid’s bill is not consumer or economy friendly. By attempting to subsidize certain technologies and energy efficiency programs, it’s more of the government “we know what’s best” mentality: attempting to change Americans’ choices by footing a portion of the bill with taxpayer dollars. These are decisions best left to the marketplace. Consumers are in a much better position to determine how to be energy efficient.