Leading the war on fossil fuels are the coastal elites, principally clustered in California and New York. The Golden State and the Empire State provide probably the best examples of the excesses of the climate change warriors. By way of full disclosure, let me state at the outset that I am not a climate change denier. I accept that we’ve had climate change throughout the history of the earth and that it sometimes causes serious problems. My mind is still open, however, with regard to what man should be doing about it. Of one thing I’m certain, though. There are some seriously misguided people who think that they can precipitously halt the use of fossil fuels without serious impact on the safety, health and comfort of millions.
In California, which would like to impose its solutions to the climate change problems on the rest of the country, if not the world, some of the forest fires which regularly ravage the state have been blamed on the state’s major utilities. The largest of these, Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E), is also the largest utility in the nation with over 5.5 million customers. The second largest in the state, Southern California Edison (SCE), is also second in the nation with about 5.1 customers. Lawsuits and fines against PG&E as a result of wildfires said to have been caused by its power lines have driven the giant utility into bankruptcy. Resources which PG&E used to comply with the liberal state government’s demand for renewable energy programs might better have been used for fire abatement measures to prevent its lines from sparking wildfires.
To reduce further exposure to liability while attempting to emerge from bankruptcy, PG&E, along with SCE, cut power in fire-prone areas during periods when the fire risk was high. This, of course, seriously inconvenienced hundreds of thousands of customers, particularly the sick and elderly, although probably not as much as losing their homes would have. Also inconvenienced were the owners of all-electric vehicles, the use of which, the state promotes.
Meanwhile, in equally-liberal and green New York, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo continues his relentless war on carbon-based fuels. While neighboring Pennsylvania benefits from its rich shale oil and natural gas deposits made accessible by fracking technology, Mr. Cuomo denies such benefits to his state’s high tax economy by insisting such assets are evil and should remain in the ground. These, of course, are the very assets that have now made the United States energy independent and the world’s largest producer of it.
Natural gas consumption in the United States grew by over 31% in the past nine years. It is not only cleaner-burning than heating oil, it is cheaper, no small concern in the chilly northeast. But since it is a fossil fuel, the climate change warriors insist that it should remain in the ground regardless of the need. Millions of households in New York and New England depend upon natural gas to heat their homes. With growing demand, regional energy providers became rightly concerned over their ability to meet this demand. In spite of this need, state regulators blocked the construction of a $1 billion pipeline that would have provided a reliable supply of natural gas from Pennsylvania to New York and New Jersey to appease the climate change fanatics who apparently would prefer that people freeze in their homes rather than heat them with fossil fuels. Consequently, the utility that provides gas to densely-populated New York City and Long Island imposed a moratorium on activating gas connections to newly-constructed houses in the area, further constraining the already short supply of new housing.
The result was a standoff between the state and the utility which culminated in a threat by Mr. Cuomo to pull the utility’s license if it didn’t provide gas hook-ups to all potential customers. The state, of course, won that argument. When liberals run the state, and the climate control warriors exercise undue influence in state capitols, that’s what usually happens. Their cause is sacred and damn the consequences. They seem to believe that they alone have the means of saving the planet. They won’t be satisfied until they actually control the utilities. Won’t that be a mess!