The energy industry; what role should government play in it?

Much of Obama and McCain's energy rhetoric is blather. Especially the part about energy independence. As Megan McArdle points out, energy independence from foreign oil is a pipedream.

In contrast to the candidates, John Tierney does a nice job of laying out the proper role of government: it should impose a carbon tax, then promptly step aside*. It should then watch from the sidelines to see which technologies private industry chooses to invest in and build.

In the comments to Tierney's article, Amory Lovins chimes in:
“Nuclear power and all other ways to produce or save energy should be allowed to compete fairly, at honest prices, regardless of their type, technology, size, location, or ownership.”
Glenn Reynolds & Dr. Helen interview interviewed Lovins a few months ago.

* Note: Stepping aside means eliminating energy production subsidies for all types of energy: nuclear, oil, gas, coal, wind, solar, geothermanl, and so on. Note, however, that the federal government should fund basic scientific research and early stage R&D for a variety of energy technologies.

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