An oilman's dream : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

Tuesday, May 8, 2001

An Oilman's Dream

A hot week is forecast for California. It began Monday with Stage 1, 2 and 3 power alerts, topped by statewide rolling blackouts. Say hello to summer, which California will have to get through with little help from the White House.

Both President Bush and Vice President Cheney are Texas oil patch veterans, which may explain, if not excuse, their backward-thinking energy policy ideas. Last week, Cheney gave a speech in which he said the nation must develop new supplies of oil and natural gas, use more coal and rely more on nuclear power. That's a policy for the 1950s or 1960s, when oil was king, but not for this century and certainly not for California.

Cheney gave some lip service to conservation but not, heaven forbid, anything that would "affect lifestyles." The nation simply cannot "conserve or ration our way out" of energy shortages, he said in an obvious dig at California energy policies from the Jerry Brown days.

Cheney's dig finally stirred the White House to some lukewarm concern. President Bush, after expressing little sympathy or empathy for California the past 100 days, came out with a plan to cut power use by 10% in federal offices in California during Stage 2 and 3 emergencies. Gee, thanks.

In an interview with The Times at the end of last week, Cheney repeated this administration's reliance on fossil fuels. And he slammed California again by saying his energy plan sees the state as an example of things not to do. He's wrong on that count too. California in fact has done much to praise.

The state has the lowest per capita electric power use in the nation. Today, nearly a third of all our power comes from renewable and alternative sources. Even so, some of these sources, particularly solar, have barely been tapped. We do need to develop more oil and natural gas from our own federal lands. But we are not so desperate that we need to spoil the pristine wilderness of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska or California's Los Padres National Forest, home of the condor. In fact, modest improvements in the fuel efficiency of autos and sport utility vehicles could save far more oil, and sooner, than getting it from the refuge.

But nuclear and coal are no answer, even if Cheney's Wyoming is the leading coal-producing state. One tactic of this administration is to mock California for creating its own shortage by adopting extreme environmental protection laws while its citizens soak in hot tubs. But consider that the state was a leader in turning to clean-burning and then-plentiful natural gas instead of fuel oil. And the utilities stopped building nuclear plants because of economics and safety, not because of environmental protectionism.

The nation does need a new energy policy, and the administration is expected to announce its official strategy within two weeks. To base it on domestic fossil fuel production would be folly. Cheney is right that we can't conserve our way out of the energy crisis. Yet we can't begin to drill our way out, either.

Copyright 2001 Los Angeles Times

-- Swissrose (, May 09, 2001


Ah, the good old L.A. Times. What a bunch of hogwash. With the not in my neighborhood, put it in the next county attitude toward transmission lines so prevelent in California, is it any wonder that the populace is experiencing these blackouts.

Pure, simple mathematics dictates: When you don't build any new power plants in 10 years, don't add any transmission lines, and have a 23%-30% growth in demand, you are going to run short of power. It doesn't take a genius to figure this out. Conservation is fine. They have much of this in El Salvador and Borneo. Do we want to become a banana republic? It should be obvious that we need more supply - much more supply.

-- Billiver (, May 09, 2001.

More supply needed of WHAT?

More fossil fuels to burn in a finite atmosphere (while droughts spread around the world)?

More fossil fuels that are finite in their supplies?

"I'd put my money on the sun and solar energy. What a source of power! I hope we don't have to wait until oil and coal run out before we tackle that." -- Thomas Edison (see Summer 2001 issue)

-- mark (, May 09, 2001.

Couldn't agree more, Mark. Glad my house is solarized. Swissrose.

-- Swissrose (, May 09, 2001.

Wind & Solar - Couldn't agree more. Everybody who spouts, "build more plants, build, expand, build", seems to forget that natural resources are finite. Nothing better to illustrate that then mention that our oil industry began in Pennsylvania. How big is the oil industry in PA now?

Also I don't think its too bright for our constant wealth transfer to OPEC just because we're too dim to search for alternatives.

Swissrose - I'm very pleased that you went solar. Anybody that takes the initiative should receive community accolades.

-- Guy Daley (, May 09, 2001.

Thanks Guy, it is definitely a reassuring feeling never having to worry about the local utility...I am wondering sometimes- if everybody in California and elsewhere can afford a fridge, washing machine, TV, and a fat car, what makes it so difficult to put at least a small solar panel on the roof? Even partial solarization might help take the pressure off the utilities. If there was sufficient demand, I am sure the prices would come down to where it would be affordable for most homeowners. Although solar is obviously too inefficient to replace fossil fuels on the very large scale, it is most definitely viable for family homes, including the use of all appliances. Having the house fully solarized has not in any way detracted from our normal standard of living...BTW, one can start with few panels and add on, as we did. Swissrose.

-- Swissrose (, May 09, 2001.

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