WSJ Editorial Page Praises Senator Boxer:

Today the Wall Street Journal editorial page praises California Senator Barbara Boxer (link for $ubscribers) for proposing that the federal government set an example in promoting energy efficiency.

Stop the presses: Senator Barbara Boxer of California has a good idea. Ms. Boxer, who heads the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, suggested last week that a first step in reducing greenhouse gases would be to require that federal buildings use more efficient light bulbs, and ask federal bureaucrats to turn off their computers at night.

"Don't you think it's time the federal government were a model of energy efficiency?" she asks. We warmly agree, not least since the United States Government is the largest single consumer of energy in the United States.

It's also one of the most inefficient energy users. According to a 1999 report by the Alliance to Save Energy, the "federal government, consumes about 32% more energy per square foot than the nation's building stock at large." This inefficiency costs taxpayers an estimated $1 billion a year. In Al Gore's phrase, Uncle Sam's leaving one giant "carbon footprint."

Of course, the WSJ also can't resist going Senator Boxer one better, proposing that the federal government reduce its energy use even further by shuttering unnecessary agencies.

For myself, I've long advocated a federal environmental policy of "First, do no harm." Many federal programs cause, contribute to, or subsidize various environmental problems, and this is tremendously wasteful. It makes no sense fo the federal government to spend taxpayer dollars to subsidize problems that it will then regulate citizens to ameliorate after the fact. Where possible, it is better not to create or exacerbate the problem in the first place.