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Winners And Losers, Continued

A while back, Brad noted a tension in conservatives' rhetoric on energy policy--they say they don't want government to pick winners and losers, but also insist that the coal and nuclear industries should continue to receive huge federal subsidies. Unfortunately, that tension is prominently on display again in a recent profile of Senator Bob Corker by Ramesh Ponnuru in National Review:

Corker plans to offer several amendments to the [Lieberman-Warner cap-and-trade] bill. He wants any money raised by auctions to be returned to taxpayers. He thinks that other energy subsidies should be cut. If we are setting up a quasi-market to determine how energy sources should be used within our emissions goals, he asks, what is the point of spending money on particular energy sources as well? And he will support other Republicans as they make the case for relying more on nuclear power. If the amendments pass, he says, he will have improved the bill. If they do not, he will have educated people about its drawbacks.

The first part of this actually sounds like a pretty ideal energy policy: Implement cap-and-trade to internalize the externality of carbon emissions, and then get rid of energy subsidies completely, letting all sources of energy compete on an equal footing. Where do I sign up!? But then, in the same paragraph, Ponnuru says that Corker wants to rely more on nuclear power. This really makes no sense to me--how can you embrace the virtues of markets in one sentence, and then endorse reliance on one particular form of energy in the next? This sort of incoherence isn't hugely surprising from Bush, but Ponnuru is a smart writer and I would expect more clarity from him.

--Josh Patashnik