Oil Things to Oil People
The Bush administration says the California electricity crisis gives weight to its argument that the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska needs to be opened to oil and gas drilling as soon as possible to provide more fuel to the country. The Bush team is working with Alaska Sen. Frank Murkowski (R) to propose a broad national energy plan focusing on increasing energy supplies (as opposed to, say, focusing on conservation and ways to decrease demand). Meanwhile, stores in the San Francisco area have been swamped with customers who want to buy energy-efficient bulbs and other products that reduce energy bills. Some hippies in Northern California have been getting along just fine in recent weeks because they are off the grid, relying instead on solar panels and wind power. Ironically, however, the crisis isn’t helping out all small-time renewable energy producers in the state — many make their money selling their energy back to the grid, but big-time customers like Southern California Edison now can’t afford to pay the bills.