Huntsman for subsidies before he was against them?

Given the amount of time we spend discussing energy policy here, as well as subsidies and the artificial effect they have on the economy, a couple of points on newly minted POTUS candidate Jon Huntsman are coming to light. First, during an interview with CNN’s Candy Crowley, he had the following to say.

I think phasing out all subsidies, some will have to be done on a faster track than others, but moving toward a phase out of all subsidies is going to be very important for budgetary reasons in this country. When you look at the tens of billions of dollars that we’ve built our economy on that create artificiality in the market place, they have to be addressed at some point. And I know they’re politically sensitive but we’re at a point where for budget reasons we can’t wait a whole lot longer.

So far so good, right? We don’t need subsidies artificially distorting the market while allowing Washington to pick winners and losers, particularly at a time when when we’re in a very definite budget cutting mood. But next we look at a report showing that Jon endorsed the “Pickens Plan” regarding natural gas.

T. Boone Pickens may get some neededpositive Republican reinforcement for his plan boosting natural gas-poweredvehicles when Jon Huntsman officially announces his run for the GOP presidential nomination today.

“Huntsman has long been a fan of the so-called Pickens Plan aimed at boosting domestic natural gas production and use in vehicles as a way to reduce dependence on foreign oil — a position he reiterated at a meet-and-greet event hosted by the Republican National Committee last Thursday, according to witnesses.”

Before we go any further, I will point out that I have been a consistent supporter of natural gas as one of the domestic energy sources we have with tremendous potential. It’s already widely used for heating and small-scale transportation needs around the country, and we are pretty much the Saudi Arabia of natural gas. Further, compressed natural gas (CNG) may, I believe, have a tremendous future in this country.

But what natural gas and CNG do not need is government subsidies. If it’s a viable energy source, as I firmly believe, it will succeed on its own. American innovation is still capable of taking that technology as far as it can go, which may be a long way. But the market will adopt it without the aid of Washington when its time comes round. If ethanol taught us nothing else, it should have made that much clear.

It would be nice for somebody to put this question to Huntsman if and when we get to see him on the debate circuit. Domestic energy is vital, but not if we rush down the wrong path as we did with ethanol.