By Alan Caruba
Being a governor has always been a steppingstone to the presidency. It’s just a thought, but perhaps people are less and less confident in their governors these days because so many seem to be part of a succession of governors who have left their states ever deeper in debt?
One notes that neither former Governor Mitt Romney, nor Mike Huckabee, fared all that well in the Republican primaries and that two former governors who made it to the White House in recent times left it under a shadow. Former Georgia Governor Jimmy Carter was and is a moron, while former Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton, though elected and re-elected, is now best remembered for turning the Oval Office into the Oral Office. Of the modern era of presidents, only Ronald Reagan, a former governor of California, restored any luster to the White House.
Governors are on my mind because the National Governors Association just finished their winter meeting in Washington, D.C. and managed to ignore the crisis most common to their states, budgets that are so over-extended that some wrenching news awaits citizens from California to New Jersey. Indeed, the exodus of people from both California and New Jersey is turning into a stampede as they stream into Nevada and Arizona in the West and head toward the Carolinas in the East.
California faces a $14 billion deficit this year while New Jersey has a $3 billion deficit. Both can boast of having some of the highest tax burdens in the nation.
So what did the National Governors Association devote their meeting to? “Reinforcing the role of states in advancing a clean energy future for America.” Clean energy is code for throwing money, subsidies and tax credits, at the least efficient forms of energy, wind and solar, while ignoring the need to encourage the improvement and expansion of the nation’s electrical grid that enables everything to function or encouraging the building of new refineries to insure a supply of gasoline and other petroleum fuels. There’s a need, too, for more nuclear plants and more coal or gas-fired plants to generate electricity.
Instead the states keep mandating that a portion of all electrical power must come from wind and solar sources that would not exist if they were not subsidized with tax and rate-payers dollars. Both require backup reserves of power providers that rely on coal, gas, or nuclear because the wind does not blow all the time and the sun does not shine at night.
“From the discussions we’ve had these past three days, it’s clear that governors are leading the way to ‘Americanize’ this country’s energy future,” said NGA Chair, Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty. Someone better explain to Gov. Pawlenty and the other 49 governors that America runs on imported oil and will for the foreseeable future. We buy it from Canada, Mexico, Venezuela, Saudi Arabia, and anywhere else that will sell it to us. The same holds true for natural gas.
The most American form of power available is coal. We have about two or three hundred years of estimated reserves, but in states like Texas and Kansas, the building of much needed coal-fired plants to provide electricity was thwarted. Meanwhile, China is building a new coal-fired plant every week. Some plants are gas-fired and, when a major energy company recently announced it wanted to build a billion-dollar storage facility for liquefied gas way off the coast of New Jersey, the first response was to tell them to go away.
“We’re on the verge of an energy revolution in this country,” said NGA Vice Chair Pennsylvania Gov. Edward Rendell. “And it’s clear that charting our own energy future will require every available resource at America’s disposal, from clean coal and nuclear to biofuels and renewables.”
Biofuels are a pipedream, as are so-called renewables (wind and solar). If we start building nuclear plants to generate electricity right now, we may avoid a future of brownouts and blackouts. Clean coal is a joke. Coal is dirty, but coal is cheap, plentiful and a powerful source of energy. Coal-fired plants that currently provide 52% of America's electricity would keep the lights on for the next few centuries. Because of clean-air regulations, America actually imports some forms of coal rather than being able to use its own.
None of the goals the governors have in mind will generate any kind of national "energy security" because no nation on earth can be energy independent. Even Iran has to import gasoline. Brazil that is always touted for its ethanol production actually earns much of its wealth from its abundant sources of oil. All ethanol does is reduce the amount of actual mileage a tank of this additive provides. It amounts to burning a valuable source of food for fuel that, in turn, just drives up the cost of food.
If I know this, why don’t our nation’s governors? It’s not like it’s a secret or that any of the experts in their state universities couldn’t tell them this.
With some exceptions, we have governors who apparently don’t have a clue about the realities of energy these days and for the future. Instead, they invite speakers to tell them of the wonders of ethanol made from wood chips, electricity from hundreds of huge wind turbines no one wants to live near or some comparable fantasy.
None of this bodes well for the future of America. We expect our elected leaders to have some understanding of the true dynamics of how energy is produced and where the millions of gallons of gas and diesel we use for transportation comes from.
Meanwhile, as the governor’s meeting concluded, the U.S. National Climatic Data Center announced that snow cover over North America is greater now than any time since 1966. The average temperature in January “was –0.3 degrees Fahrenheit cooler than the 1901-2000 (20th century) average.”
Do you think they know this?