Power shortage: Blame Oklahoma and Texas?
Did you know the reason that California has an electrical power shortage is because Oklahoma and Texas conspired to prevent California from having the power it needs? Recently, I heard a California caller to a well-known radio talk-show make that claim.
The callerís proof was just as soon as California started paying very high prices for electricity that power started to flow again. Of course, it did. If you pay enough money you can have Baked Alaska delivered to you by helicopter in the middle of the Gobi Desert.
There is this immutable law called the Law of Supply and Demand. Evidently, it is not well known in California or maybe the California legislature repealed it. Anyway, the California State Assembly passed legislation freezing the retail price that power companies could charge for electricity while allowing wholesale prices to respond to ever-increasing demand.
Result? The Pacific Gas and Electric Company just filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and Californiaís other two major electrical producers may not be far behind.
What makes all this even more ridiculous is that America has no shortage of oil, coal or natural gas. We are sitting on a combined 500-year supply of oil and coal and natural gas beyond measure.
So, why the energy shortage? Because the enviro-nuts have made it virtually impossible for domestic oil and gas producers to meet our energy needs.
Drive south from Oklahoma Cityís Will Rogers International Airport and you will see miles and miles of drilling rigs and other oil field equipment sitting in yards just rusting away. Meanwhile, OPEC is making us pay through the nose for crude oil and is even cutting back production.
It would be wonderful if energy conservation practices or the use of fossil-fuel energy alternatives, such as solar and wind, could save us but they cannot. For sure, modern science will eventually find more environmentally acceptable ways to produce energy. But we do not know when that is going to happen.
Let us assume that invention comes in 50 years, which seems entirely likely. You know what? Then, we will be sitting on 450 years of oil and coal supplies that will have been made worthless by these new inventions. Hello? Why not use some of our 500-year supply between now, when it has value, and then, when it will be worthless?
Some will argue that as long as we are allowed to use fossil fuels that no one will bother to invent whatever it will be that replaces fossil fuels. But that is not the history of invention. Sure, necessity is the mother of invention. But invention happens many times without its mother and especially when big bucks are involved.
Ever hear the rumor that the nerdy kid down the street invented an engine that would run for a year on a teaspoon of corn liquor but the big oil companies paid him off to keep his mouth shut? That is about as idiotic as blaming the shortage of electricity in California on Texas and Oklahoma. Iím not making this up, but there are people out there in California, and probably West Palm Beach County, who would believe such stories.
Currently, we are dependent on Middle East and Caspian Sea oil. The governments in those areas are some of the worldís most unstable. Moreover, two of them, Iraq and Iran, are not our friends. In a twinkling, the gas lines of the 1970s could return.
Letís face it. We fought the Gulf War to prevent Saddam Hussein from gaining control over the oil fields of Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. So, isnít it odd that people who will send our young men and women to die for oil wonít allow it to be obtained without a shot being fired from our enormous oil reserves in Alaska and elsewhere?
Isnít it time we had a truly American energy policy?
William Hamilton is a nationally syndicated columnist and a featured commentator for USA Today.
©2001. William Hamilton.