Libertarian energy policy glows in a year of opportunity

June 27, 2016
For the US oil and gas industry, the probable choice between presidential candidates represents a true dilemma.

For the US oil and gas industry, the probable choice between presidential candidates represents a true dilemma.

Democrat Hillary Clinton would extend the attack against fossil energy begun by President Barack Obama. Republican Donald Trump would not.

In fact, the energy policy Trump described in a speech May 26 is one of the saner positions of his campaign.

Unless legal inquiries dogging Clinton yield indictments, however, Trump can't win the general election. His reckless oratory, peevishness, and weak command of issues alienate too many Americans.

For a perennial third party few ever notice, 2016 should be a year of opportunity.

The Libertarian Party has chosen former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson as its presidential candidate and former Massachusetts Gov. William Weld as his running mate.

Calling their platform socially liberal and fiscally conservative, the candidates hope to appeal to Democrats wary of Clinton and Republicans appalled by Trump.

Their immediate goal is to break the 15% poll-support threshold needed for admission to presidential debates, which they need for exposure. In a recent Fox News poll, they scored 12%.

While odds remain against a Libertarian win in November, problems of the front-runners in a campaign full of surprises warrant a look at the third party's energy policy.

According to Johnson's web site, the candidate sees enforcement of "reasonable environmental protections" as a "proper role of government"-the Libertarian benchmark.

But Johnson doesn't believe the government should "engage in social and economic engineering for the purpose of manipulating the energy marketplace or creating winners and losers in what should be a robust free market."

Johnson acknowledges that the climate "probably" is changing and that humans "probably" contribute to the process.

"The important question, however, is whether the government's efforts to regulate, tax, and manipulate the marketplace in order to impact that change are cost-effective-or effective at all."

Johnson thus rejects the climate dogmatism of Democrats while upholding the market principles abandoned, on energy, by Republicans.

The Libertarians deserve a hearing.