To hear some people talk, you’d think the greatest danger of government intervention in the energy sector is that it will “distort the market.” Poor, tender market.
In fact, energy markets would give Adam Smith the screaming willies. The world’s biggest oil companies are state-owned members of anti-competitive cabals. Half the electric utilities in the U.S. are regulated monopolies and all are governed by byzantine state regulations. America’s transportation and electric infrastructures are largely financed by public money and built by government. This is to say nothing of the elaborate skein of tax breaks, loopholes, subsidies, and cozy political relationships that overlays every bit of energy production and consumption.
Markets in something as central to industrial civilization as energy have never been “free” and never will be. Those who worry about government intervention distorting energy markets tend to be the very players benefiting from America’s current Rube Goldberg energy policy. Free marketeers they ain’t.