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Blackouts: New Energy Conservation Program?

     The well is about to run dry.


     That’s what the International Energy Agency said in early July. According to the Financial Times, “oil looks extremely tight in five years time.”


     Why wait five years? Oil looks pretty tight right now. As of this writing, oil is floating around $74-$75 and gas is more than $3 a gallon yet again. We aren’t running out by any means, but it’s not exactly pleasant for consumers.


     And journalists are sure to jump on the industry once again. You can almost format the media coverage in advance:


1.      Describe the company CEO (fill in the blank): _____________ CEO. The choices are a) “greedy,” b) “evil,” c) “incompetent” or some combination of the three.

2.      Describe corporate profits: _____________ profits. The choices are a) “outlandish,” b) “skyrocketing,” c) “record,” or, again, some combination of the three.


     It’s like Mad Libs – the socialist version.


     The only sticking point in that rationale is the oil prices aren’t the fault of businesses.


     They aren’t the result of some unfortunate surprise, either – a refinery fire, an earthquake or hurricane. They are part of a manmade disaster that’s made right here in Washington, D.C.

     Put simply, demand for oil continues to grow, but the supply doesn’t. The Financial Times explained that “Oil demand will grow at an annual rate of 2.2 percent during the next five years,” but that supply from the non-OPEC nations will only increase about 1 percent per year.

     The oil-rich nation of Iran has been struggling with this very problem. The government limited the gasoline supply because of refinery problems, and riots resulted.


     Even a first-year Econ student can tell you that the supply situation is unbalanced – rising demand with supply that’s not keeping up. We could use some good Econ students to help with our energy policy.


     If we had an energy policy, that is.


     One day on the Hill, members of Congress try to mandate higher fuel economy. Another day they complain about the loss of jobs in Detroit. One day Congress is talking about investigating oil company profits because gas prices are high. Another day they put a tariff on foreign ethanol, ensuring high gas prices.


     But the irony goes far beyond our use of gasoline. Will we be able to grow the world’s strongest economy, or are we merely supposed to economize?


     At least some in the media have warned us of the problem. CNN’s Jim Acosta explained on “American Morning” July 9 that energy analysts are worried new power plants might not be built. “[T]he next crisis is looming unless the nation starts building new power plants within five to seven years. Energy analysts fear the return of the blackout of ’03,” said Acosta.


     That’s where we’re headed if the left has its way. Every time people want to build new power, they run into left-wing opposition. In Texas, coal plants were stopped, putting that state at risk for brownouts during the hottest months. Elsewhere, dams, wind power, Liquid Natural Gas facilities and more have all been opposed by the eco-elite.


     Maryland’s Democratic Gov. Martin O’Malley mentioned nuclear power as part of his long-term proposals to secure the state’s energy future. Almost as soon as he said anything, the left was complaining.


     “A new reactor at Calvert Cliffs would increase the public health and environmental threat to Maryland,” said Maryland PIRG policy advocate Johanna Neumann, according to the Associated Press.


     For a long time, the only solution the left has proposed has been to conserve. The PIRGs and their extremist brethren have advocated “energy efficiency and renewable energy,” despite a growing demand for power.


     But that is no longer the benchmark for the extreme leftist position. Now we have a whole new group of wacko lefties to contend with who feel that Mother Earth is better off without us.


     It doesn’t matter which loony idea you pick, each one is worse than the one before. First it’s Sea Shepherd founder Paul Watson, who thinks the earth has 5.5 billion too many people. Then there’s The Voluntary Human Extinction Movement, with a slogan saying: “May we live long and die out.”


     For all that might seem ridiculous, Time magazine just ran a piece by Jerry Adler envisioning what the planet would be like following “removal of the most disruptive species in history” – mankind.


     Perhaps that is the left’s final solution to pollution – eliminate the source.


    The whole situation has me feeling powerless. Apparently that’s what the left wishes for all of us.


Dan Gainor is The Boone Pickens Free Market Fellow and director of the Media Research Center’s Business & Media Institute.