Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Why America Can’t Get Anything Done

One of the Messiah’s Pres-elect Obama’s good ideas is updating and expanding the nation’s electricity grid, which will make possible the practical use of wind power, concentrated solar, engineered geo-thermal, etc. It would be the energy equivalent of what the interstate highway system did for surface transportation, and requires, like Eisenhower’s push for the Interstates in the 1950s, a high level presidential commitment; a few lines in a state of the union speech won’t do.

Last month I was on a panel at the National Press Club on this subject, reflecting on Peter Huber’s proposal for how to do this. A representative from the Natural Resources Defense Council was on hand to pay lip service to the idea, but when I pressed him about the caveats of the environmental community, he admitted that they were "not yet on board" with the idea. Translation: Get ready for lots of lawsuits if the NRDC doesn’t get to plan the nation’s new energy grid. Great.

This morning’s New York Times has a splendid story of how red tape prevents the development of eco-friendly energy projects right now in NYC. An Episcopal Seminary (which means money is no object if the cause is the Green God) wants to drill some geothermal wells, which will reduce their annual carbon footprint by 1,400 tons. You’d think the government would encourage this. You’d be wrong:

“We had to answer to 10 agencies,” Ms. Burnley said. “It took three times as long as it should have. The left and the right hand did not know what the other was doing. . ." This is the future that virtually everyone in the city wants. But the people at the seminary are, in Ms. Burnley’s phrase, “institutionally exhausted” by the four-year siege of red tape, and after spending 50 percent more money than they had expected. “At a certain point we became angry, and determined, and wouldn’t give up,” she said. “But you can’t create public policy that depends on having obsessed, hardheaded people to get these projects done."

At one point, the seminary waited three months for the city Department of Transportation’s permission to drill into the sidewalk, Ms. Burnley said. “The conversation went like this: ‘What is the status?’ ‘It has no status.’ ‘Do you need more information?’ ‘No, we have what we need.’ ‘Then how can we get it moving?’ ‘You can’t get it moving.’

Now imagine the roadblocks that could be placed in the way of modernizing the nation’s electricity grid. Oh well, I guess we can just keep burning more coal.

Discussions - 7 Comments

Wasn't there something on here a few months back about people, particularly in California, having adapted engines to run on recycled vegetable oils? If I poke around on Google, this site turns up first. There a lot of articles, but memory is of articles about such companies running into roadblocks getting their products to market because THERE WAS NO REGULATION. Until government regulation could be developed, they could not sell their products in America.

Such things, like this engine that runs on water - I know a young man developing and even building hydrogen adapter units in his garage. He has one in his car and is driving around in a secret state of fuel efficiency all the time. It is hard enough to get a patent and find someone who can afford to take the financial risk to produce his product, without having to endure getting government approval. Of course, his alternative is to secretly build these things in his garage till the government finds him and takes him away for illicit inventiveness.

That last article I noted had a some line about the importance of guarding against human error. I understand that is an aspect of what government does. But error is part of being human. How does government keep us safe from being human? I dread finding out.

"If I can get it done here, I can get it done, an-y-where, it's up to you, New York, Neeww York." Whatta town. Empire State Building in less than a year back in the early 30s, and now...fuggheditaboutit. Oh, and the promise of wind power is a total basic problem has to do with the transmission wires...good article a few months back in NR on this.

Of course, what is in place is one of hurdles in finding energy alternatives. That's why I like my young friends\'s hydrogen converter unit. He solves part of the "where do you get hydrogen?" problem, but I can't tell you how.

But, Carl Scott, isn't part of the problem insisting that we have national energy alternatives? If people or locales could be dependent on a convenient energy source - solar power makes sense in Arizona, but is stupid in Northeast Ohio - or water based hydrogen units make sense here where we have abundant water, but not there, where there is not. If we have to have a unified national grid, then, yes, there will be enormous problems. If we need national standards and national solutions, well.... Could we consider that national might just be too big?

Old money does not allow change till they have a system in place that they will be the ones who profit from it. If this is not simple totalitarianism then what is? I know you all will hate this refrence, but it sounds like the ministry of technology is going to pass on the lightbulb or whatever happended in Anthem.

One of the best tours in Vancouver, British Columbia is with a guy who will run you to Lynn Canyon, Deep Cove and even out to Grouse Mountain in his veggie car! For $30 per person (with a $5 discount coupon), he picked my mom and I at Lonsdale Quay and we were out for the day. WHY so cheap??? One - it runs on veggie oil taken from restaurants. Two - he advertises his engine converter kits on the car we drive around in. So he gets to take folks around and see the sights and maybe drum up business. He's an informative and intersting guy - lived in Texas for 9 years so he says "y'all" with a western Canadian accent. The converter kit cost about $700 installed, I believe.

Kate, I'm just sorry we can't all benefit from your hydrogen engine friend. Heaven forbid we develop and build anything useful in our garage (oh, say, like a personal computer) and market it to the world, creating a tidy profit in the process. We priced out putting solar panels on the house to take us off the grid - $30,000-40,000 for everything including installation and it STILL would not take us off the grid. So we would pay $400 a month for the system when our electric bill is only $120 at most in the winter when we're running both furnaces. Give me an affordable, practical and approachable solution without all the hype and brownbeating and I might investigate alternatives to my current lifestylw. But until the environmental lobby sounds more like a rational discussion group rather than a shrill version of Chicken Little, I'm not yet convinced all of this "greening" will benefit you, me, glaciers, salmon or polar bears.

Here's a thought: why stop at the electricity grid, when much of the infrastructure of the good ol'USA is creaky and antiquated. Eisenhower's interstate system is in need of an upgrade, along with the nation's power grid, etc. Thoughts?

Because everyone is looking to point the finger of blame everywhere but where it needs to be. Also, because the liberal illuminati want to throw money at a deficit only getting bigger.

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