When it comes to U.S. energy policy, federal government regulations unquestionably limit competition and innovation, and the people who suffer for it are the consumers and taxpayers. While the availability of new and abundant energy sources, such as natural gas, has caused a shift in the energy industry from coal to more economical fuel sources, federal regulations have also helped cause the cutbacks in the coal industry.
Federal regulations place a serious burden on the coal industry. For instance, the Mercury Air & Toxics Standards regulation caused some thirty percent of the U.S. coal production retirement in 2015 according to The Heritage Foundation. Compliance with the regulations would have cost approximately ten billion dollars a year, so the most economical alternative was to simply retire coal production rather than to comply with the federal regulations. Other federal regulations are aimed at the oil and gas industry.
So, it is important to ask: are the federal regulations really doing anything to help the environment? Some would say no. Other regulations exist that would achieve the same amount of environmental value, so what is the point of adding more regulation if it is only going to stamp out players in the energy sector and generates only a negligible environmental effect? Perhaps it’s just politics – and that might just be bad for average Americans.