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Energy conservation doesn't require a federal mandate

Here are two charts that illustrate how effective free markets can be in the conservation of energy. As the first chart shows, consumers spend less of their income on energy today than they did in in 1970, despite the fact that the price of oil—the source of most energy—has risen some 600% in the intervening years in real terms, as shown in the second chart.

But here's a more accurate description of what has happened: since oil prices have risen 600% in the past 40 years, consumers now spend 13% less of their income on energy. Rising oil prices have spurred conservation and technological advances that have drastically reduced the amount of oil we need to run our lives and our economy. As this next chart shows, the U.S. economy today uses 57% less oil per unit of output than it did in 1970.

Free markets have thus accomplished the task of greatly reducing our energy dependence. We don't need any federal mandates or new programs or new spending to develop "green" energy. It's a process that is already well underway.

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