Dueling Twins

ANWAR Over Energy

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The 'Dueling Twins'

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Enter the 'HALL' of the Dueling JAMES Twins!

Is it a fact -- or have I dreamt it -- that, by means of electricity, the world of matter has become a great nerve,
 vibrating thousands of miles in a breathless point of time?
Nathaniel Hawthorne

Point:

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The ANWAR Over Energy

James Hall - From the Left

"Conservation may be a sign of personal virtue, but it is not a sufficient basis for a sound, comprehensive energy policy." -- Dick Cheney
 
"Dick Cheney is a dinosaur living in the age of mammals." -- Ralph Nader

First Mr. Bush talked the economy down; now he warns of an energy crisis. In each case, his cries of doom are self-serving. He wanted and got a tax cut and he wants a green light to drill and mine oil and coal, build nuclear power plants, pipelines, refineries, and create an endless emphasis on consuming energy, regardless of the problems associated with high energy prices, increased pollution and continued global warming.

The new Bush energy policy is simply a business plan for America's energy corporations. It advocates building 1,300-1,900 new power plants with minimal environmental impact studies, creating new coal-fired and nuclear power plants, drilling in the few remaining pristine areas of America, including the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge, the Lewis and Clark Forest, the Rocky Mountains and Gulf Coast of Florida, and using imminent domain to take private lands in order to build more pipelines and powergrids for the energy industry.

Just don't expect to find measures that significantly increase our conservation of resources or that control the increased levels of pollution and other forms of environmental damage that will occur because of this plan. Why would an administration that preaches timeworn virtues like honesty, family, and faith turn up its nose at the rights of landowners and the values of thrift and frugality?

To find out follow the money--there's more cash in consumption than in conservation. Keep consumption high and the price of oil can stay high--in this respect Bush, Big Oil, and OPEC are natural allies. This suits the major energy corporations who bankrolled Bush and Cheney and out of whose ranks they came. This suits the major automotive companies who paid Andrew Card, Bush's chief of staff, to represent them, and who were defended by former Michigan Senator Spencer Abraham, now Bush's Secretary of Energy. If these companies can persuade Americans to consume more, they make more money, period.

And there's little political pain involved in increasing consumption. Bush doesn't have to tell Americans to turn in their gas-guzzing sport trucks and SUVs or turn up their thermostats. He doesn't have to tell the automotive industry to design more fuel efficient automobiles. By the time we burn all the additional oil and coal his policy would create and see the results of additional smog, acid rain, and shrinking coastlines, he'll be safely out of office with his oil bucks in his wallet.

Energy conservation, on the other hand, is a young, emerging industry without the extensive lobbyists and support the fossil fuel people have. And clean energy sources like solar and wind power are relatively new technologies without a political base. They don't need major corporations to run them, and they make consumers independent, not dependent on energy corporations for energy. That's why Bush has tied federal support for them to revenues derived from drilling in the ANWR. It's another gun held to the heads of those who care about independent living and an environmentally sound future for this country.

America does have energy problems, but not a crisis. Oil to gas production is tight, with refineries working at nearly 100% capacity, and the northern and southern California suburbs have outgrown their local powergrids. But California is already dealing with its power problem by building 13 new power plants, some of which will be online this summer. And private industry, not government, is responsible for the dearth of new refineries. During the gas glut of the 1990s, when prices were stabliized at low levels, the major energy companies simply stopped building them. The increasing monopoly power of the energy corporations allows them to limit the number of refineries and the supply of gas available to us, and not any lack of government planning.

Will moving forward to exhaust the remaining oil and gas in North America really prevent us from being dependent on foreign oil? The recent cut of OPEC oil, something that Mr. Bush assured us wouldn't happen during HIS administration, again serves notice that an economy dependent on fossil fuels is an economy at risk of the global manipulation of oil prices. As long as we remain dependent on oil at all we are vulnerable to world energy prices. We should be moving to wean ourselves from fossil fuels, which we could do by promoting renewable sources like solar, wind, and water power for power generation, and by reducing dependancy on oil through mandating efficiency standards for automobiles and electric appliances.

So what are the alternatives? Denmark leads the world in per capita generation of wind power. Danes buy modern windmills, which are now as expensive to operate as coal-fired plants and are expected to drop by 2002 in costs to oil-fired plants. Regulations that require the power company to buy back electricity generated by windmills and incentives that encourage farmers and landowners to buy and set up windmills have encouraged the growth of this industry in Denmark. Similar changes in American policy could greatly increase our investment in nonpolluting, renewable energy owned by individual Americans, not the major corporations.

Prototypes using turbines that run on ocean currents are being developed in Canada. Fuel cell technology promises to make the internal combustion engine obsolete in 20-25 years. This technology is actively being pushed in Europe and Japan, but not in the United States, where research is held hostage to politics.

Fortunately a coalition of Republicans and Democrats isn't waiting on this administration to promote conservation measures. A bill sponsored in the Senate would give tax credits to individuals and businesses who buy the new hybrid gas electric automobiles and trucks which can get up to 60 miles a gallon. Another bipartisan effort in the House has submitted a bill to apply the same fuel efficiency standards (CAFE standards) that now apply to sedans to light trucks and SUVs. The Environmental Defense Fund estimates that each one mile per gallon increase in efficiency in these automobiles saves the equivalent of one ANWR per year.

We can't expect innovation and thinking outside the box from the collection of energy industry executives and lobbyists who inhabit the White House. Instead, we must block their efforts to water down environmental regulations and curtail property rights for industry profits. Good conservation measures will lower gas prices, reduce dependency on foreign oil, and reduce all forms of air pollution. It will reduce our need for drilling in environmentally sensitive areas and let Americans pursue environmentally friendly ways to generate their own power and escape the greedy grasp of the energy industry.

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Rebuttal:

While I agree with James that an unholy alliance of government and the five major energy corporations is a thing to be feared, I'm afraid James doesn't fear it enough, or he wouldn't be calling for market solutions to energy problems. There can be no energy market solutions without breaking up the big energy monopolies to restore legitimate competition. And so far as the power grid goes, the best solution may be to continue the tradition of public utilities that established so much of America's electric grid. In California today, the only areas not subject to power outages or outrageous price increases are those cities, like Los Angeles, who have public utility companies providing their power instead of the large private corporations who spearheaded California's calamitous deregulation.

James is completely off-base with his assessment of ANWR. Biologists studying the wildlife there say the necessity to keep the drilling site, a mile-long coastal plain between mountains, pristine, is absolutely essential to their survival. Putting up the infrastructure needed to drill there will require 280 miles of roads, hundreds of miles of pipelines, 50 million cubic yards of gravel, 25,000 workers, and large production facilities. Hardly the "small footprint" that the administration argues will do no harm. Similar drilling platforms at nearby Prudhoe Bay have been responsible for over 400 accidents involving oil spills. We don't need a 180 day supply of oil that badly.

Supporting nuclear technology is another mistake. We've yet to solve the nuclear waste problem (all nuclear waste is currently stored onsite at these plants), or deal with the tremendous danger of another nuclear accident like Three Mile Island, and plutonium remains the most dangerous substance on the planet. It's far safer to give Americans tax incentives to produce their own energy with solar and wind power and to promote technologies which reduce our dependence on what Alvin Toffler calls "smokestack industries," which are America's past, not its future.

James, form the Left

Counterpoint:

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When the Rock turns Green, the Public Bleeds

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Every since the era of John D Rockefeller, the oil industry has been characterized as robber barons. No doubt that his influence was unprecedented and it has been said extended indirectly to a quarter of the US economy at its peak. But what is conveniently overlooked by 'Fiends of the Earth' (yes, spelling is correct), is the role that government played in the creation of that devious monopoly. Looking to government to be the fair arbitrator and provider of solutions is akin to accepting a silver dime from the grand old man himself. A basic lesson in economics is sorely needed to clean the air.

Those who comprehend the consistent theme in these essays, understand the vigorous defense of 'Civilization'. Modern society can only exist upon the flow of energy and the sparks of electric. Let us be perfectly clear. AC power is good, even though I would prefer Mr. Edison's DC. But this is one area where going either way is acceptable.

For students of business who view the world as a never ending bakery growing pies of ever larger dimensions, it continually amazes how neophytes seek to divide up smaller slivers of pieces among more and more people. This mindset doesn't even need to address the freedom of expectations, choices of the individual. Simply on the quality of life dimension, do we need to rest our argument.

When the 'Chicken Little' claims it is a choice between conservation OR consumption, they fodder on chow meant for beasts, not a cuisine suitable for intelligent creators of prosperity and abundance. Common sense dictates that health and wealth is preferable to erroneous and suspect claims of imminent collapse of the environment. Sensible and responsible citizens recognize prudent objectives. But has government intervention into market forces provided solutions? I submit it has not. What it has accomplished is the reinforcement and expansion of a more dangerous predator, one of which they are a principal part.

The solution is to open real competition among the seven sisters, now reduced to five. Coal is the energy that can restore energy independence for the US. Nuclear is not a four letter word, but one that needs to be trained when it is appropriate to use. Technology is not always a blessing, but in this area it can offer more benefit to minimize the short comings of each method of power generation. The answers will be found in creative advancement. But the policies of every administration have fallen well short in that support.

Has everyone forgotten the Jimmy Carter shale and coal synthetic experiment or the great legacy of the Department of Energy? If you want wind to contribute, why are utilities allowed to refuse to buy excessive generation by private systems? Remember that the Gulf War only promised to keep cheap oil for a ten year period! The problems in energy are political, much more so than technical. California is a disaster of public policy idiocy, and the dementia fantasy of its citizens who voted for it. Businessmen invest only if there is the potential of a fair return. Those who favor central control and planning, will always doom the many to the fiat of the few.

The Bush-Cheney approach is to increase the supply. Higher prices in their own will encourage industry to produce more. Notions of price controls would only distort this process. Added regulations, seldom will reduce the price to the consumer. Drilling in ANWR makes proper sense when the evidence is examined objectively. The environment is not in any real danger of being trashed. Claims to that effect are manufactured hysteria by estranged crazies. But the benefit of this increase supply is certainly not a total solution, nor should it be argued that CAFE standards are foolish objectives, either. People desire choice in their purchases, as it is proper to provide. When they act in asinine ways and buy inefficient gas wasting vehicles, the negative consequences of that decision is theirs. However, I doubt that few viewed their reasons at the time of buying as stupid.

The real question is why there are so few varieties of low consumption, high fuel efficient, or alternative power vehicles available in the market place? The answer should be obvious! The alliance between government regulation and industrial production is acting from the same play book. It is completely silly to think that government wants to change this illicit relationship. Quite the contrary, the bureaucracy grows and extends its realm of regulation when mandatory and enforceable measures are forced upon the public with the tacit consent of the corporations that continue to pass on the added costs, in rising retail prices.

The promise of fuel cells is exciting. But what will happen to this new alternative if the cabal extends its reach over its development? Carburetors existed in the 1940's that would double the MPG of usage. What happened? This same marriage of greed squelched its sale. So why would anyone expect the intervention of an enlightened public policy will break this hideous cycle? Only the force of market innovation and increased supply will meet the needs that the population demands. To impose a diminished horizon upon the economy in order to have a managed approach for dispensed availability is a 'TC' concept. Whenever a Totalitarian Collectivist system is decreed, the achievements of society and civilization are limited. Only the scheme of the profiteers benefit, while the reach of the planners amplify.

The personal virtue of conservation that Cheney speaks, is based upon personal choice by each individual. Any attempts to save us from our own dreams is arrogance in the extreme. But why should this surprise, when the originators of that excess are the preachers of limited expectation. The world they wish to preserve forget that the fossil fields were created from the environment that dinosaur ruled. Mr. Nader may be clever and correct in his call for concern, but his approach for solutions most surely will result in the next extinction, this time of the ultimate ruling mammal. Man will be reduced to a beggar at the bowl of the dole.

The object is to break the cartel, develop and introduce practical alternatives to the marketplace, reduce regulation that prevents entrepreneurs from entering the industry and allow the price to determine the consumption level that people are willing to pay.

We need the likes of T. Boone Pickins and the Ewings brothers. Even JR is preferred to Jill Claybrook or the successors to JD 'Rocky' himself. The regulators and tree huggers are as bad as the monopolists. Each has their own agenda to enslave the consumer in a pool of dependency. For the first, only the perpetual motion machine will satisfy them, and for the later only the forfeiture of your savings will keep them happy. To solely condemn Bush and Cheney as a tool of the energy corporations without blaming the entire Corporate State alliance is short sighted. In this equation there is plenty of culpability to be spread around. Until this fact is faced, the public will continue to be the biggest loser.

James Hall - aka SARTRE

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Final Word:

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You will not find a more fervent opponent to Corporate abuse, but I defer to pragmatic reality when irrational emotionalism is proposed for others to be forced to suffer, destructive consequences. The oil oligarchy inordinately shapes US foreign policy. Wars are fought to protect their interests. I will gladly support a dramatic reduction of their influence, but your reliance that government will and would provide that impetuous, is akin to putting water in your tank and wondering why your car won't run. When you get the American public to ride bicycles, the prospect for an anti trust breakup would improve. But until then, only wildcat risk takers will provide the check upon the oil stranglers. Sell your reduced usage and limited supply at higher costs to the BMW set! The social and economic disruptions will be severe, while you are waiting for all your 'Green' wishful alternatives. Develop them, but don't destroy the baby in the process. My Z3 gets great mileage . . .

Specious nuisance on Anwar is in the 180 day argument. Any practitioner of logic would know that figure represents the entire usage of US consumption. Anwar production would be in addition to current supply and would eliminate the present shortfall that is a major element for increased prices. So your biologists are experts? Let them solve the footprint damage in Siberia, where the oil market will turn for additional production, without projects like Anwar. Clean Coal found from Utah deposits is the short term solution for electric generation, but remember its banning in favor of Raidy's Lippo Group fields.

A world without the nuclear sword is best, but the genie is out of the bottle. Nuke plants work, safety concerns are important and real waste disposal technology will be solved. Your approach will require the US to buy the technology from the French, since YOUR government turns a blind eye to the issue. The Toffler's of this world are not visionaries, they are 'Malthusians'. If tree huggers were sincere, they would visit the Wizard of Menlo Park, and sit in his electric chair. Turn on the switch, run that current and reduce the demand for the rest of us, by one. A noble use of energy that will save the earth for those who drive Explorers and Tahoe's . . . Or maybe they can just blow on the blades of home windmills, they surely have enough hot air for that generation.

James Hall - 'The Right'

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