Public Nuisance

Random commentary and senseless acts of blogging.

The first Republican president once said, "While the people retain their virtue and their vigilance, no administration by any extreme of wickedness or folly can seriously injure the government in the short space of four years." If Mr. Lincoln could see what's happened in these last three-and-a-half years, he might hedge a little on that statement.
-Ronald Reagan

Left Bloggers
Blog critics

Gryffindor House
Roger Ailes
Angry Bear
Biscuit Report
Body and Soul
Daily Kos
Kevin Drum
Glenn Greenwald
Group Think Central
Inappropriate Response
Mark Kleiman
Lean Left
Nathan Newman
Off the Kuff
Prometheus Speaks
Rittenhouse Review
Max Sawicky
Scoobie Davis
Seeing the Forest
Sully Watch
Talking Dog
Talking Points
TPM Cafe
Through the Looking Glass
Washington Monthly
WTF Is It Now?
Matt Yglesias

Slytherin House
Indepundit/Lt Smash
Damian Penny
Natalie Solent
Andrew Sullivan
Eve Tushnet

Ravenclaw House
Michael Berube
Juan Cole
Crooked Timber
Brad Delong
Donkey Rising
Dan Drezner
Amy Sullivan
Volokh Conspiracy
War and Piece
Winds of Change

House Elves
Tom Burka
Al Franken
Happy Fun Pundit
Mad Kane
Neal Pollack
Poor Man
Silflay Hraka
SK Bubba

Beth Jacob
Kesher Talk
Meryl Yourish

Prisoners of Azkaban
Ted Barlow
Beyond Corporate
William Burton
Cooped Up
Cogent Provacateur
Letter From Gotham
Likely Story
Mind Over What Matters
Not Geniuses
Brian O'Connell
Rants in Our Pants
Ann Salisbury
Thomas Spencer
To the Barricades

A & L Daily
Campaign Desk
Daily Howler
Op Clambake
Media Matters

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

Party Animals:
Clark Community
From The Roots(DSCC)
Kicking Ass (DNC)
Stakeholder (DCCC)

Not a Fish
Ribbity Blog
Tal G

Baghdad Burning
Salam Pax

<< List
Jewish Bloggers
Join >>

Friday, May 17, 2002
A new column by Joe Conason (I saw it following a link from atrios) has some fun quoting the 'experts' and pundits who were mocking all suggestions last year that California energy prices were being deliberately manipulated.

As good as Conason's column is, it only tells half the story. Those who made fun of 'conspiracy theories' to explain the shortage did have an alternate explanation: blame it on environmentalists. While we're finding out what really happened, let's look back at their wisdom:

Blame for this can be laid at the feet of the environmental community first and, second, government regulators who adopted the negawatt vision of people like Amory Lovins and the Natural Resources Defense Council's Ralph Cavanagh.

For years, environmentalists have said we use too much electricity and don't pay enough for it. For years, they have blocked construction of new power plants in California and tried to eliminate coal-fired electricity from the generating mix in adjacent states and the country at large.

- Frederick Palmer, Environment and Climate News

Environmental groups were taken aback when Bush blamed them for California's crisis. In addition to citing a flawed energy deregulation law, Republicans pinned California's problems on air-quality regulations and environmentalists blocking new power plant construction.

"If there's any environmental regulations ... preventing California from having a 100% max output at their plants, as I understand there may be, then we need to relax those standards," Bush said.

- USA Today

Perhaps it's not surprising to see that Krugman completely ignores a much more obvious cause of California's energy woes — namely, this country's backward energy policies. One of the reasons why California is in such trouble electricity-wise is that power plants across the state have been shut down for violating increasingly stringent clean air laws (though some of them are being reopened as a result of the current crisis), thus causing a power shortfall. Compound this with a Clinton administration that has not only done everything possible to stymie domestic oil exploration (roping off millions of acres from any sort of development via executive order) but has encouraged natural gas usage while discouraging new sources of the stuff from being developed, and you have a recipe for exactly what is going on in California now. More worrisome, California's troubles could also be a harbinger of things to come across the country.

But instead of looking to the true perversions of the market, caused by an EPA and administration who refuse to acknowledge that a limited amount of pollution is the acceptable consequence of industrial activity, Krugman sees evil only in those outfits that are trying to make the best of a bad situation, and warns readers against being seduced by "enthusiasts for market solutions for everything from prescription drug coverage to education."

- James Morrow, National Review

As the California electricity crisis worsened, aides to President Bush repeatedly cited the state's woes as evidence proving environmental restrictions should be relaxed -- specifically recommending that the nation move quickly to open an Alaskan wildlife refuge to oil and gas drilling. Sen. Phil Gramm, R-Texas, told the Los Angeles Times that California's crisis is essentially a lesson on the consequences of "environmental extremism."

- Salon

The misbegotten government of California does a miserable job of deregulating by keeping one set of prices high and another set of prices regulated. They have -- but their environmental restrictions, they do not permit the sufficient building of powerplants as they have elsewhere. And now you want the federal government to put price controls on wholesale electricity. Did I did summarize it correctly?

- Bob Novak, Crossfire

In truth, this idea never did make any real sense. California has had tight enviromental restrictions for a long time - most were passed in the 1970s, almost all were in place by the time Jerry Brown left office in 1983. California got along quite well through decades of booming economic and population growth with those environmental restrictions, then deregulation was passed in 1996. Within a few years of its taking effect, the state ran into a catastrophe - at which point it was suddenly discovered that the 'real problem' was those decades-old environmental rules.