Bush-league Energy Plan

Chicken Little and George W. Bush are wrong. The sky is not falling and, the current manufactured hysteria notwithstanding, there is no energy crisis. Not at least if you live outside of California. Even there, the crisis is not due to a lack of new power plants, as Thomas Higgins explains (see page 8). Elsewhere what is being opportunistically, even cynically, hyped as an energy crisis should be recognized as a real but hardly cataclysmic energy problem, a problem that begins with the notoriously contradictory American consumer (and voter) who regards cheap gas and electricity as a birthright. We want to power our (ever bigger) cars and warm and cool our (ever bigger) dwellings, but we don’t want to pay the price-not at the gas pump, not in our utility and heating bills, not on the price tags of foodstuffs and other things transported long distances, and not with power plants, pipelines, transmission lines, and refineries in our backyards. We prefer to shift that cost to faraway places, to diffuse it into the less visible burdens of air pollution and environmental damage, or, better yet, to kick it forward to future generations.

To call the current tightening of energy supplies and consequent jump in prices a problem rather than a crisis is not to deny there are victims. Small farmers, independent truckers, and other small businesses, lacking the muscle to pass on higher costs, get squeezed. As always, people...

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