News and Pointed Commentary on Political, Business, Social, and Other Topics of Interest in the Western Puget Sound Region.
By Lary Coppola
Except of course that we're producing more oil in this country than we have in years, and arguably we're on a path toward energy independence within a generation.We have plenty of trees to harvest, with a workforce that is much leaner than it used to be....spotted owl or free market?Our cars go considerably further on a tank of gas than they used to, with more features than ever before.Our buildings use less energy, our factories are more efficient, our environment is cleaner.Only our politics seem to be dirtier now. Perhaps including those folks behind this video.
Personally, I don't see us as arguable being "...on a path toward energy independence within a generation." What you say just doesn't add up...If we're producing more oil, and using less of it because cars are so much more fuel-efficient, why hasn't the law of supply and demand kicked in? If what you are saying is true, gas wouldn't be priced at the highest point in the history of the automobile, as it is right now.As long as we continue to import the majority of our oil, we'll never achieve energy independence. If there was a strategy in place to pump the Mideast dry, while preserving our own oil supply, that would be one thing. But there isn't. Meanwhile we have significantly more oil under Alaska, and numerous other states in this country, as well as offshore, then in the entire Mideast, but we are being prevented from drilling for it by environmental laws..Our oil refineries are running at maximum capacity because there hasn't been a new refinery built in America since the 1970's — because environmental regulations make it cost prohibitive. The ones we do have, have been updated as technology has advanced to make them more productive, which is also why they are refining more product, but that doesn't change the fact new ones won't be built.Wind and solar power? Give me a break. Windmills only supply maximum power during certain times of the year — when demand is usually at its lowest. Power producers here the Northwest that own the windmills in the Cascades and the Columbia Gorge, end up selling the power they produce to California power companies because we don't need it at the windmill's peak production times. Solar power plants take up so much land, that environmentalists usually fight their siting (Mojave for example) because it totally destroys the habitat of animals and plants. And solar doesn't begin to produce anywhere near as much power as a coal, natural gas, hydro, or nuclear plant either. Meanwhile, environmentalists are working to shut down all the coal-fired power plants in this country — in spite of the fact we have nearly as much cheap coal as we have oil under this country. Technology is also available that will now allow coal-fired power plants to burn cleaner than natural gas — which is pretty clean to start with — but that isn't deterring the greenies. And they want the dams torn down to supposedly preserve salmon runs. Why not just build more and better salmon ladders? And why not stand up to the tribes about gillnet fishing? And we all know the sad story about nuclear power... No, I'm sorry Bruce, it isn't even arguable in my mind that we're on the path to energy independence in a generation — not as long as we stay on the path we are.We now know beyond a doubt the Spotted Owl scare was a joke. It wasn't ever being threatened by logging, but by its natural predators. Meanwhile, an entire American industry has been killed. The Spotted Owl scare was overkill to the max. Sensible preventive measures should have been put in place — not the shutdown and death of the entire timber industry as we knew it. Water quality? Again overkill. The Olympia Brewery in Olympia was shut down by Pabst after they spent $8 million to clean up the water discharge. When they were finished, it was legally suitable for human consumption, but the state Department of Ecology (DOE) wouldn't approve the brewery for operation. I wrote a story on this at the time, and when I asked a DOE official about the water being suitable for humans to drink, his response was, "It may be good enough for people, but isn't good enough for the fish." Result: Past closed the brewery and 400 fimily wage jobs were lost. But at least we do agree on one thing: Politics has certainly gotten much dirtier.
Guess we'll see about energy independence in a generation. Independence doesn't mean cheaper prices - in fact higher prices make our supply of oil in this country more feasible to pump.The change in the timber industry was destined to occur regardless of the spotted owl. Look at the quantity of trees cut and milled per worker and the improvement efficiency of the industry was on a path toward upheaval regardless.As for bad thin tasting beer production in Olympia - I'll defer to you - I have no direct knowledge.