It’s worth remembering that lots of our environmental policy is wasteful or distortionary. Virginia Postrel writes about California’s new law banning incandescent light bulbs:
What matters, from a public policy perspective, isn’t any given choice but the total amount of electricity I use. If they’re really interested in environmental quality, policy makers shouldn’t care how households get to that total. They should just raise the price of electricity, through taxes or higher rates, to discourage using it.
Instead, the law raises the price of light bulbs, but not the price of using them. In fact, its supporters loudly proclaim that the new bulbs will cost less to use. If true, the savings could encourage people to keep the lights on longer. (via)
In 2009 I wrote about a similar California proposal to ban high-energy-use TV’s.