Most countries around the world think that it’s a good thing to have cheap energy. But in California, we have plenty of cheap energy available, just not the political will to access it.
California depends on natural gas-driven turbines and hydroelectric generators to provide just 38 percent of its oil needs. The state imports 12 percent of its oil from Alaska, and another 50 percent from foreign nations, relying heavily on Canada.
So why are California’s utilities warning of potential rolling blackouts again?
It’s political. And it’s corrupt.
Highest Electricity Rates = Less Power in CA
California’s natural gas shale formation is one of the largest in the world. And, California has been a pioneer in renewable energy, albeit still unreliable and unproven. Yet warnings are already coming that Californians may have rolling blackouts this summer. While California sits on one of the largest known deposits of recoverable oil and gas, production is falling steadily, as the state ignores its vast onshore and offshore deposits, which are fully accessible through conventional and hydraulic fracturing technologies.
This is one reason California electricity costs more than twice the national median – thanks to a government-created shortage.
Another reason is that the California Public Utilities Commission, the state’s energy “regulator,” has an historic dubious relationship with Wall Street, making promises to keep the profits higher of the state’s publicly held utilities, than utility profits elsewhere. Those profits come out of ratepayers’ pockets. “You’re ego is writing checks you’re body can’t cash,” the famous quote from the movie Top Gun says.
$5 Billion Cover-Up at San Onofre
Another of the problem areas is the California Public Utilities Commission $5 billion cover up and scandal over the 2012 closure of the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station, due to the failure of the steam generators. San Diego attorneys Mike Aguirre and Mia Severson exposed the attempt to make the public pay big for utility and regulatory executives’ mistakes at the failed San Onofre nuclear power plant.
Southern California Edison executives purchased new steam generators from Mitsubishi, but were warned that they were bigger and run hotter, and could fail. SCE executives purchased and installed the generators anyway, knowing of a flaw in the generator design, according to records. Built to last 40 years, the generators at San Onofre failed after 2 years. And, the generators’ cost had not yet been included in rates. So SCE was faced with broken generators they could not charge ratepayers for.
then-PUC President Michael Peevey, and executives of Southern California Edison colluded in secret to saddle ratepayers with $3.3 billion of the $5 billion shutdown cost. The $5 billion recovery settlement was negotiated in secret in Poland, away from prying eyes and open records laws in California.
The state is awash in ultra cheap natural gas, yet in California, our corrupt government finds a way to create an energy shortage, and charge rate payers the highest rates in the country.
“State officials warn that Southern California could face as many as 14 days of scheduled blackouts this summer because of depleted reserves of natural gas caused by the massive leak in Aliso Canyon,” the Los Angeles Times warned in April. The LA Times neglected to mention that California ratepayers do have options, but its politicians have no will. The state sits on one of the largest known deposits of recoverable oil and gas — the Monterey Shale, a 1,700 square mile oil-bearing shale formation primarily in the San Joaquin Valley, which contains an estimated 15 billion barrels of oil. The Times article quoted Bill Powers, of Powers Engineering in San Diego, who said the utility’s pipeline system has not exceeded its capacity of 3.8 billion cubic feet per day during summer in the last 10 years, thus the concern of blackouts is without merit. “It is crying wolf for state agencies to be implying blackouts from a lack of gas, especially from a lack of gas in the summer time,” Powers said.
The Monterey Shale formation is estimated to be several times bigger than the Bakken Shale formation, currently delivering a record economic boom to North Dakota. But even as the fourth-largest oil producing state in the country, oil and gas production has been steadily declining here. Instead, California lawmakers turned their attention to wind and solar, and other types of alternative energy. The state has been only focused on implementing the Renewable Portfolio Standard, passed in 2011, which requires the state to be using 33 percent renewable energy by 2020.
A University of Southern California study, “Powering California: The Monterey Shale & California’s Economic Future,” looked at the development of the vast energy resource beneath the San Joaquin Valley known as the Monterey Shale. It found that hydraulic fracturing could create 512,000 to 2.8 million new jobs, personal income growth of $40.6 billion to $222.3 billion, additional local and state government revenues from $4.5 billion to $24.6 billion, and an increase in state GDP by 2.6 percent to 14.3 percent on a per-person basis.
It’s Not Easy Being Green
California politicians have gloated over being the first state to enact such aggressive green energy and greenhouse gas busting policy, but have yet to produce any proof that these oppressive and business-killing laws have had any “green” results.
All while they ignore that natural gas is clean, less expensive to extract, natural and abundant. It wasn’t that long ago that natural gas used to be the left’s preferred alternative to all other “dirty fuels.” But as the oil and gas industry found better, more affordable ways to access natural gas, it fell out of favor with emotional, whimsical environmentalists.
The last California Governor blamed for rolling energy blackouts was recalled by voters… hold that thought.
Katy Grimes is senior correspondent for The Flash Report, and a contributor to the Canada Free Press and Legal Insurrection. She is a senior media fellow with the Energy & Environmental Legal Institute, and she serves as president of the Sacramento Taxpayers Association.
There are many in our society–particularly those who’ve come to the conclusion they’re smarter than the rest of us–who rejoice in one-party rule. They therefore must delight in our current state of our Golden State, because it’s simple to determine who does and doesn’t belong in our government. After all, why be “Rational, Tough and Bold” when it’s so much easier to be clever and emphasize that You Care”!
So now that our state enjoys a one-party rule that is more “democratic” than ever, it has the distinct advantage of a more streamlined approach to achieving power in the following five ways:
1) No one to complain about crippling businesses and the local economy:
The Koch Brothers are a gift that must keep on giving. Without any prominent elected Republicans to blame on everything from our reduced quality of life to tooth decay, these two mysterious individuals are conveniently in the desired role to get folks angry about things without having to pay attention to who has actually been running major cities like Los Angeles into the ground.
After all, the concerns that handed former governor Arnold Schwarzeneggar’s first major defeat–the slew of propositions that would have addressed pension reform, budget reform, teacher tenure rules and other issues that would have kept our state on an even economic keel–were thrown asunder by the public sector unions who now OWN this state.
Kind of like having the overwhelming thrust of written, television and Internet media on your side in the most blatant of ways, and then hunt down the distinct minority of media outlets who support the other side and brand THEIR followers as crazy, partisan and bigoted.
So how awesome is it that the focus can be on the recent Supreme Court rulings (Citizens United, McCutcheon) allowing more corporate money into politics…instead of the current dominance of public sector union and corporate money that ALREADY encourages politicians to ignore their constituents and go where the money is?
2) No one to oppose class warfare or stop you when you claim people can’t be successful on their own:
What an awesome circle of tactics our leaders now enjoy! Create an economic environment that favors the upper 1%–and which trashes the future of the middle- and lower-socioeconomic classes–and then blame the OTHER side for the 1% which is both siphoning off the financial largesse of the greater populace and is of YOUR creation!
And if issues arise where your political party has operatives that are connected to both Hollywood and the White House pull federal anti-poverty funds away from impoverished South Los Angeles to more politically-rewarded portions of the City of Los Angeles …then…blame the Koch brothers!
After all, when your one-party system has created an environment where South Los Angeles residents would rather collectively swallow a bag of broken glass than have a legitimate two-party system, why worry about them?
And when individuals and generations of families can’t find full-time jobs to keep them fully-employed and financially-independent, then they HAVE to turn to the politically-empowered for food, shelter and feel-good programs to make them feel represented…rather than merely OWNED.
A wicked-good way to stay in charge, right? Certainly more profitable and successful than to encourage and rally behind those who come behind from adversity to achieve financial independence!
3) No one to oppose state-sanctioned race-obsessiveness, or inquire what that means and entails:
The emphasis that “you’re a victim, you can’t do it because the cards are stacked against you, so let’s get back at the racist monsters who’ve kept you down” is a first-rate message and strategy to bypass any concerns of hidden messages and implications…like suggesting that some ethnic groups are too stupid and ill-equipped to do it on their own, or that those ethnic groups who are succeeding actually did it on their own.
Take affirmative action, for example–there are many first-rate black and Latino leaders who are brilliant, hard-working, innovative and charismatic leaders. But rather than cherish the success stories of those who’ve come from behind to succeed and achieve the American Dream, it’s a more tasty nectar to cherish and consume when one perpetually presumes there will be an ever-present group of ethnic losers.
Rather than focus, however, on those Asians in our state and in our country who are climbing up the socioeconomic ladder despite overt racism during their own lifetime–like Japanese-Americans moving from concentration camps to being our local gardeners to being our society’s leading professionals–it’s more convenient to attack Asians when they question the fairness of affirmative action.
Sort of like the way that moderate Ted Lieu, the inspired protégé of the late Mike Gordon, who has certainly fought for the average Californian in so many ways but has been attacked because he had the temerity to back off from supporting affirmative action. Blame him, and blame the Koch Brothers, and blame everyone but those doing the blaming. Awesome!
So if we even try to come up with a balanced immigration reform measure proposed by Republican Jeff Denham that encourages military or other service to ensure illegal immigrants a tough but likely measure to encourage them to be part of our American mainstream, it’s not problem-solving, but racism…right?
4) No one to remind children that you’re rewriting history and telling them a story that just isn’t true:
Why bother to raise the issue of Republicans, conservative Independents and moderate Democrats throwing up their hands in despair and leaving the Golden State (with their money and assets, to boot) and changing the political electorate when you can just claim that there are more Democrats because…well…they’re just the better party?
Why bother to compare the economic history of California when it was a red state with our current status of being the bluest of blue states? Furthermore, why bother to compare our current economic status with red states like Texas, which is pulling all sorts of employers and job creators to locations where they can better enjoy the profits of their blood, sweat and tears?
Why bother to call a group of people (and their enabling employers and paid-off politicians) “illegal immigrants” when we can call them “undocumented immigrants” despite the fact that they knowingly broke the law? And those who ask for fair representation of legal immigrants and native-born Californians…probably racists who should be demonized and put in their place!
Why bother to raise the issues of balanced oil/gas industries versus the newer solar industries when one can just decry and demonize the former as just Big Oil while ignoring the unequal profiteering of Big Solar…and heavens forbid we should focus on states like North Dakota which is enjoying an oil boom! After all, that’s a Red State, so they’re probably racists who HATE the environment!
And why bother to ever raise the public sector pension crisis issue that will bankrupt future generations when it’s easier to just tell children that those raising that issue are probably just fascists who HATE police officers, firefighters and teachers?
5) No one to stop you when you break the law:
If the California High Speed Rail keeps getting knocked down in the courts because it’s violating both the language and spirit of the measure that the voters approved, it’s not law-breaking, it’s lack of vision…right?
If we trash our environmental rules to allow developers, chambers of commerce and construction unions to break the law and shred our economy, mobility and quality of life to pieces, it’s not law-breaking, it’s obstructionism…right?
If three state senators of the ruling class–er, political party–get nailed for knowingly break the law, it’s not law-breaking, it’s the fault of big money (as in the Koch Brothers and the Supreme Court)…right?
And that really is the wonderful advantages of a one-party state–it’s worked wonderfully well in other parts of the world, and even in our own country–because separation of powers and all that is an obnoxious inconvenience for those too smart or clever to have to listen to the rest of us.
There’s also, of course, one other, final advantage of being in charge of a one-party state:
NEVER HAVING TO SAY YOU’RE SORRY, BECAUSE THAT’S FOR THE “OTHER PARTY”, RIGHT?
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About the Author: Ken Alpern is a Westside Village Zone Director and Boardmember of the Mar Vista Community Council (MVCC, previously co-chaired its Planning and Outreach Committees, and currently is Co-Chair of its MVCC Transportation/Infrastructure Committee. He is co-chair of the CD11 Transportation Advisory Committee and chairs the nonprofit Transit Coalition, and can be reached at Alpern@MarVista.org. He also does regular commentary on the Mark Isler Radio Show on AM 870, co-chairs the grassroots Friends of the Green Line at www.fogl.us. The views expressed in this article are solely those of Mr. Alpern. This article originally appeared in Los Angeles City Watch and is republished here with permission.
To our progressive friends, it seemed like a century of advocating for government-sponsored universal health care reached fruition when the Affordable Care Act became the law of the land. But triumph turned to tragedy when Progressivism’s signature accomplishment blew up on the launch pad. Not only did this make a shambles of our wounded president’s governing philosophy, it sent the most vulnerable Democratic officeholders scurrying for cover, leaving damage control to a few befuddled party elders.
Far-left true believers, putting their faith in hope over experience, are insisting that Obamacare’s woes were brought about by compromise, and are demanding what they wanted all along and expected to get when Obamacare ultimately went bankrupt: single-payer, nationalized health insurance. To lead the charge, they will recruit their newest champion, Elizabeth Warren, anti-banking demagogue and untiring defender of unsustainable middle class entitlements.
The populist professor recently made headlines with the extraordinary claim that Social Security is $2.7 trillion in surplus and could easily provide increased benefits. She will have no trouble doubling down on the hoary promises her fellow progressives so fervently promote. As for the math? Who cares! It’s greedy insurance companies, Republican sabotage, and the wicked one percent who are really to blame for the Obamacare fiasco. Keep your focus on the enemies of the people and all will be well.
Old-bull Democrats, determined to recreate the glory days of the 1990s, will rally around their presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton. Hillary has been doing her level best to stay out of the line of fire as the wheels come off her former rival’s presidency, leaving it to Bill to prick Obama’s balloon whenever the opportunity arises. Watch these two old hands try to triangulate their party back to the center, perhaps even reaching across the aisle to old-bull Republicans as Clinton Inc. tells an angry and frightened electorate that things will surely get better if adults are put back in charge.
Old-bull Republicans, fearing a Tea Party insurgency even more than the Clinton campaign steamroller, will seek to strike a grand bargain on … well, everything. Remember the good old days when Tip and the Gipper could deliver both guns and butter while maintaining a respectful professional rivalry. So what if this means spending the country into oblivion? Politics is the art of the possible, which makes winning elections more important than defending principles. And wouldn’t life be better if Washington insiders could get back to scratching each other’s backs without having to worry about primary challenges?
And the Tea Party? These Constitution-thumping reactionaries will remain the wild card, biding their time, picking off the weakest of the old bulls, and preparing for the moment when America is finally forced to make hard choices. That moment will come when our QE besotted fiat currency system begins to totter, threatening to take the too-big-to-fail banks down with it. Will they convince America to hit the reset button—scrapping the bankrupt entitlements and crony capitalist policies that are sucking the life out of our economy? Or will they be driven back to their survival cabins to impotently watch the country sink into permanent Eurosclerosis?
Oddly enough, one solution to the Obamacare mess that could produce a stable political outcome is to give both extremes what they want—a government funded, owned, and operated national healthcare service freely accessible by the needy and a deregulated, privately insured health care delivery market where people of means can avoid the poor quality of care a public service will surely deliver. How to unwind the disastrous attempt to glue public and private systems together in an effort to disguise the underlying income redistribution will be the story of the next three years. And figuring out how to honestly pay for a new public healthcare service on top of Social Security and Medicare will force a conversation about means-testing that may eventually get the middle class off the dole, future generations off the hook, and Ponzi entitlement schemes out of bankruptcy.
About the Author: In the 35 years since Bill Frezza graduated from MIT with degrees in electrical engineering and biology he has been a scientist, an engineer, a product manager, a salesman, a consultant, an entrepreneur, an author, a technology evangelist, and a venture capitalist. His early career on high-tech’s bleeding edge included the development of first generation electronic newspapers, home banking, home shopping, cable modems, multi-user videogames, wireless LANs, and wireless email, all of which became a success – for someone else a decade later. His 15 years as a venture capital investor working with early stage telecom, semiconductor, and biotech startups taught him humbleness, risk aversion, and the ability to identify ten fatal flaws out of five in any startup business plan. Frezza is a frequent guest on CNBC, FOX, and CBN News where he is challenged to reduce complex economic and policy issues into thirty second sound bites. More writing by Frezza can be found at BillFrezza.com. This article originally appeared in Forbes and appears here with permission from the author.