I’ve been asked over the past week about the Bureau of Land Management’s awakening to the “need” for environmental impact statements for the areas where the solar people hope to set up gigawatts of new power production. Last week the BLM asserted that there would be a two year delay in new permitting and within days that went out the window replaced by a “do it as we go along process.” I suspect the creatures will be glad for any more shade and the plants will get by in between the panels. In any case the numbers guys are thinking that an area about 120 miles on a side would power the whole of the U.S. including powering a fully electric automotive fleet. As that won’t be all in one 120-mile square, instead spread out over Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico and lots of other states the “impact” while locally mostly shady, it won’t amount to much.

While stunning, the BLM’s announcement illustrates the nightmare of U.S. energy policy. Or is it? That the ban could be reversed so quickly is a good sign that the old law on the books can be overwhelmed when enough people stand up and shout. On the other hand, when looking at the crude oil speculators driving oil prices up there are shouters on both sides that can keep the obvious policy move locked down. The difference is that the plants and creatures will get attended to, but the consumer will have to wait until the lenders putting up some 93% of the money to keep the oil futures market going will have a day of reckoning that might be a catastrophe. Imagine oil went down precipitously and lots of those borrowers can’t make the margin calls. Do you suppose the taxpayers will be cornered into bailing those lending guys out too? Just wait and see.

Let’s be sanguine about this and salt the concept with a dash of reality. Policy in the democracies is a market, too. Write that down. As noted above the shouting can come from lots of places and the power measured in money and the old boy network plays a powerful hand against the invisible individual voter. Just to keep things completely confused the media is busily making like they can write intelligent stories to guide us to think properly.

It enough to make the well informed mind swim in its own confusion.

Staying sanguine means taking care of your own business. The policy market will get fiddled with for decades to come. Some forms of production will get incentives and benefits and maybe some will get penalized. But in the end you and I carry the hundreds of millions of sticks to beat the market into answering our demands. The first demand is much more efficient devices to do the work, that you and I can buy, and start saving some money.

The last time the U.S. Congress passed an “energy bill” the results were to put it mildly “off base” by miles and miles and miles. They did weird stuff like presume that incandescent light bulbs were bad and outlawed them even though they are 100% efficient when the furnace is on – no heat is wasted then. Duh. Where was the media then?

They overlooked and remain until today oblivious to the suffering of half or more of the population from oil prices running up and still can’t get the existing incentives locked in for an appreciable length of time for wind and solar even as we now know that wind can pull it off without, but hundreds of thousands of jobs, hundreds of factories and an inexhaustible source of electricity is in the offing. The program keeps coming up but the Senate can’t hear you! It’s time to pull on that yo yo string.

U.S. energy policy might be better than anyone might think. Once we start down some path, lawfully committing us to a process with known steps to nirvana – you can just bet a better idea will come along and not crush the old, as we will have a “national policy” that will close the door on the better idea. Policy could be a disaster for the century.

So here is the $64 Trillion dollar question. Do you trust the 535 members of Congress and any President in memory or in the running, the bureaucracy, departments and agencies to choose and guide the U.S. economy to an energy and fueling nirvana? OMG And just think, the media will be” informing” us what the best choices are!

Didn’t think so. Did you?

So here’s my humble suggestion. If $4+ gasoline isn’t bad enough, or the notion that heating the house next winter will be double or triple last years bill, or that being able to travel by air is still affordable, or that groceries brought to the store powered by diesel and jet fuel driving double digit price increases or any one of the countless things that are going to cost more as energy and fuel prices work their way through the economy are reasons to just shout – don’t bother.

Pull on that yo yo string instead – learn, adapt, help others and use that vote both in the booth and with your spending. Show up when there is a shot at an elected official and be certain the “public servant” gets it, too. There are hundreds of strings that will need pulled in the coming years, just be sure that your pulling along with the rest of us to a better future.


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