For years, my observation has been that the perfect has been the enemy of the good in energy policy. Now, I don't support the feds making energy policy at all, but given that they do, too often the government has ignored the 80/20 solution that would get most of the desired benefits for a fraction of the cost of alternatives being considered.
For example, in California, the state could have made a ton more progress reducing vehicle emissions had they accepted a low emissions standard decades ago that allowed for things like compressed natural gas (CNG) as a vehicle fuel. However, environmentalists insisted on zero emissions, and thus only electric vehicles passed muster, and the technology simply has not been there (not to mention that at the margin, new electric vehicles in the state would at best be powered by natural gas and at worst by Arizona and Nevada coal plants, making the very concept of "zero-emissions" crazy).
I am thinking of this by looking at this chart from the EIA of CO2 emissions per BTU for various fuels (pounds per million BTU):
Coal (anthracite) 227 Coal (bituminous) 205 Coal (lignite) 215 Coal (subbituminous) 213 Diesel fuel & heating oil 161 Gasoline 156 Propane 139 Natural gas 117
Looking at this, and given the huge amounts of natural gas in this country, one might reasonably expect that a logical policy suggestion would be to try to provide incentives to substitute natural gas for coal and diesel fuel. The technology exists right now, today, to produce electricity with gas and to power large vehicles with CNG (and focusing on truck fleets eases the distribution issues with CNG).
But of course absolutely no one in the global warming movement is suggesting this (except for T. Boone Pickens, and he is involved in climate bills as a rent-seeker, not as an advocate). You see, we want "renewable" energy, and natural gas does not fit. Though for some reason ethanol does, despite the fact that ethanol probably creates more CO2 than it reduces.
No point here really, since I am not advocating any sort of energy policy. But it reinforced to me why no one should claim as a justification for energy policy that somehow the system will be more efficient if a few smart people design it top-down, when one of the most obvious 80/20 solutions to Co2 reduction is not even considered.