Legend has it that Russian minister Grigory Potempkin erected fake villages along the route Empress Catharine was taking to the Crimea in 1787 to convince her highness that the area was actually developed. Since then, critics of government have used the term Potempkin villages to refer to government orders to create imaginary utopias.
One element of Barack Obama’s socialist “clean energy economy” program that I describe in my book Never Allow A Crisis To Go To Waste was the Environmental Protection Agency’s decree that gasoline refiners must use “cellulosic biofuels” made out of materials like grass under pain of paying hefty fines.
One not so small problem with the EPA order – cellulosic biofuels do not exist in commercial quantities nor are they likely to in the near future. This did not prevent EPA from levying the fines for failure to follow its decree, however.
This was too much even for the normally regulation friendly D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. In American Petroleum Institute v. EPA, the court held that EPA cannot punish gasoline refiners for failing to buy government ordered products which are unavailable for purchase. Unfortunately, the court had no problem with EPA ordering refiners to sell exotic biofuels made from sugar cane and the like without any actual science that these fuels benefit air quality.
One step forward toward freedom, one step back.