Insanity: doing the same thing over and over but expecting different results.

Apparently we didn’t learn much, if anything, from the ethanol boondoggle, Solyndra or Washington’s other adventures in meddling in the markets. If we had, perhaps Congress would not currently be considering passage of H.R. 1380, the New Alternative Transportation to Give Americans Solutions Act. (Or NAT GAS) In it, the tax code would be amended to to provide a series of credits and breaks to benefit the production and expanded adaption of natural gas, both liquified and compressed.

Not everyone is buying into the enthusiastic hype, however. A group of conservative leaders have come together to remind us precisely what’s happened in the past when the government attempts this sort of market manipulation.

Today AFP joined a group of 16 conservative coalition partners in renewing their strong opposition to the NAT GAS Act and urging Members of Congress to reject the legislation in 2012.

H.R. 1380, introduced by Representative John Sullivan (R-OK), and S. 1863, introduced by Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ), would create new and expand existing special tax treatments for the production, conversion, and sale of of natural gas-powered vehicles — all at a time when Congress should be simplifying the tax code instead of adding more special handouts for favored interests.

You can read their full letter at the link.

Now, some of you may already be wondering about why I’m not supporting this. “But Jazz, I thought you liked natural gas!

I do. Quite a bit, actually. Not only do we have a lot of it, but it burns pretty cleanly and we can produce vast quantities with far less disruption to the surrounding lands with new technologies. As increased supply has driven prices down, other industries are turning to natural gas for their energy needs, spurring further economic development. Also, additional transportation segments are looking at converting, such as with trains.

So why would I not be embracing H.R. 1380? Because if natural gas is to continue to succeed as a viable, mass market energy source – which I fully believe it shall – it needs to be able to do it on its own and prove that it’s viable. If the demand is there, the market will respond. If it isn’t, then it wasn’t meant to be. Washington has repeatedly proven that it has zero clue when it comes to picking winners and losers in the free market. Let’s not allow them to stick their noses even further into the energy industry.

Bonus: You can get a feel for where the various presidential candidates stand on this and related issues here.

Edit: Link fixed for the study on powering trains with natural gas.