Thursday, April 19, 2007

A Reasonable Commentary on Energy Consumption.

Writing in the Orange County Register, Barbara La Raia, offers a balanced, dispassionate view of the energy predicament in which we find ourselves.

La Raia's fundamental thesis is that energy conservation is every bit as important as the development of new, environmentally friendly energy sources. She points out that in this country we do a lousy job of conserving energy and offers some really basic, easy to implement changes to daily life that could make a big difference.

But the most striking part of her commentary is this:

"First, there needs to be a balance between the philosophies of far-left environmentalists touting excessive regulation and those who minimize environmental problems despite credible findings that they exist. There should be only the most necessary, unambiguous government regulations to assure that the solution is not worse than the problem..."

It sounds almost ridiculously simplistic but it really gets to the heart of the energy debate in California and throughout the nation.

The radical right-- industry-- often downplays or spins many of the environmental impacts of its proposals and plays-- not inappropriately-- the "economically & socially necessary" card. The radical left-- primarily environmental interests-- then goes 180 degrees in the opposite direction and seeks to block, regulate or protest. In the end there is only gridlock and we all suffer for it.

Nowhere was this sad scenario more evident than in this week's nuclear sideshow between Assemblyman Chuck DeVore and Assembly Natural Resources Committee Chair Loni Hancock. Both persons played their respective roles flawlessly, DeVore on the radical right and Hancock on the radical left, and in the end NOTHING got done.

Both the right and the left are guilty of perpetuating this futility. In California we need more clean reliable energy sources like nuclear and LNG, and we need more energy infrastructure such as more gasoline refineries to meet demand and keep gas prices in check. However, if industry isn't willing to make further (and undoubtedly costly) concessions, and until the environemental community abandons its zero-tolerance policy for any progress whatsoever, our problems will only get worse.

California Focus: What we can do for the environment [Orange County Register]