Bush Really Wants to Investigate the Cause of the Largest Blackout
in American History, He Should Start with the Vice-President, Tom
DeLay and Himself
BUZZFLASH NEWS ANALYSIS
following BuzzFlash news analysis was developed using material provided
by alert BuzzFlash readers:
"We'll have time to look at it and determine whether or not our
grid needs to be modernized. I happen to think it does, and have said
so all along."
- George Bush, 8/14/03 [LINK]
DIEGO - President Bush said he will order a review of why so many states
were hit by a massive power blackout Thursday and
said he suspects the nation's electrical grid will have to be modernized.
In June of 2001, Bush
opposed and the congressional GOP voted down legislation to provide
$350 million worth of loans to modernize the nation's power
grid because of known weaknesses in reliability and capacity. Supporters
of the amendment pointed to studies by the Energy Department showing
that the grid was in desperate need of upgrades as proof that their legislation
sponsored by U.S. Rep. Sam Farr (D-CA) should pass.
Unfortunately, the Bush
Administration lobbied against it and the Republicans voted it down
three separate times: First, on a straight party line
in the U.S. House Appropriations Committee, then on a straight party
the U.S. House Rules Committee, and finally on a party line on the floor
of the full House [Roll Call Vote #169, 6/20/01].
As AP reported at the time, the amendment would have amendments that
would have doubled the bill's money for energy assistance for the poor
to $600 "provided $350 million to support loans to improve the capacity
of transmission grids. 'It's pure demagoguery,' House Majority Whip Tom
DeLay, R-Texas, said in a brief interview regarding the Democratic amendments.
'If Democrats had an energy policy, they'd have had one in the last eight
years. They have no credibility on this issue whatsoever. They are responsible
for the energy crunch more than anybody I know.' Spotlighting the high
political stakes, House Minority Leader Dick Gephardt, D-Mo., took the
unusual step of issuing a written statement about the committee's energy
votes. He said President Bush and Republicans are 'committed to helping
the Big Energy special interests' and accused them of obstruction." [AP,
energy and water bill – 6/25/2001
AMENDMENT: Electric Power Grid Improvement Loans
Total cost: $350 million
Authorize the Secretary of Energy to make loans and loan-guarantees
for the purpose of improving existing electric power transmission
reliability or capacity. These loans must be repaid in full within
25 years, such that the long-term cost to the government is zero.
- GROWING DEMAND NOT MATCHED BY GROWING TRANSMISSION CAPACITY: Over
the next 10 years, the Department of Energy predicts that demand for
power will increase by 25%, requiring more than 200,000 megawatts of
new capacity. However, under current plans electric transmission capacity
will not be nearly enough to keep pace.
- CALIFORNIA’S PATH 15 ALREADY PROVES THAT BOTTLENECKS ARE A PROBLEM:
Path 15 in California consists of two 84 mile 500 kilovolt transmission
lines between the northern and southern parts of the State. There is
complete agreement that Path 15 is a major bottleneck that contributes
to blackouts in the State, costing the consumers $222 million in 2000
alone. The one-time cost to fix the Path 15 problem is $250 million,
which would increase transfer capacity over Path 15 by approximately
1500 megawatts. The Secretary of Energy himself testified, that constructing
the 3rd Path 15 line within the existing pathway would increase system
reliability, reduce the likelihood of blackouts, and lead to greater
competition and lower prices.
- EXISTING BILL UNDERFUNDS EFFORTS TO ADDRESS BOTTLENECKS: The supplemental
bill before you today includes $1.6 million, not requested by the Administration,
for the Department of Energy to study the power grid problem. While
that’s a positive first step, the fact is that the project has been
for years and there is consensus among all parties that upgrades are
desperately needed – and needed now.
- AMENDMENT WOULD DEAL WITH ENTIRE GRID: This amendment is designed
to deal with all of the major power grid vulnerabilities.
part of a news release (from June 21, 2001) by a Democratic Congressman
who saw the Republicans fight against and defeat his effort to have the
government provide loans to upgrade the nation's electrical grid [LINK]
DENY REP. FARR'S AMENDMENT FOR ELECTRIC POWER GRID LOANS
'I'm disheartened that some Republicans continue to play politics while
the energy crisis wreaks havoc on our lives,' Rep. Farr says
(Washington, DC) - Rep. Sam Farr tried to offer an amendment to an appropriations
bill today that would provide funding for electric power grid improvements.
The Republican-dominated Rules Committee refused to allow the amendment
on the bill.
"One thing that's aggravated the energy
crisis in California is the antiquated power grid infrastructure," Rep. Farr said. "Power gets generated
in Southern California and squeezed up an 85-mile stretch of high-voltage
wires in the Central Valley called Path 15. The demand for energy in
the Silicon Valley and San Francisco far outstrips the capacity of Path
15, which is a dangerous bottleneck and needs to be overhauled."
Farr vowed to continue offering the amendment to other legislation
The amendment authorizes $350 million to fund direct loans and loan
guarantees to improve electric power transmission systems in the
Under the amendment, the loans and loan guarantees can only be made
after the Secretary of Energy approves them; determines that other
financing is unavailable and that an emergency exists, and finds
that the projects they fund would maintain or improve electricity
Borrowers would have up to 25 years to repay the loans.
"This loan program would benefit people of all political stripes," Rep.
Farr said. "And the loans could be used by public or private-sector
groups to improve an electrical grid that is clearly outdated and overburdened
in California and elsewhere. That's why I'm disheartened that some Republicans
continue to play politics while the energy crisis wreaks havoc on our
Farr said that while many Republicans are gradually coming to see
the wisdom of intervening in what is obviously a dysfunctional energy
market in the West, the Republicans on the Rules Committee that rejected
his amendment is out of touch with the damage caused by the California
energy crisis. Families are facing soaring energy costs, businesses
are fighting for survival and political leaders who continue to ignore
plight do so at their own peril, he added.
how does this illuminate Cheney's refusal to help California when it
suffered rolling blackouts from the predatory behavior of the power
companies and Gray Davis asked for help? Well, the Bush administration's
and Tom DeLay's refusal to upgrade the electrical grid had a similar
-- but even more dramatic -- impact on August 14, 2003
what about Arnold Schwarzenegger? Read on:
"In order to counter the virtual public consensus that
deregulation ought to be dumped, Ken Lay, during the spring of 2001,
began a series of high-powered meetings to salvage the deteriorating
argument for his energy scheme.... He met privately with Vice
President Cheney in the days leading up to the administration's publication
what became an extremely Enron-friendly National Energy Plan. Successful
on the national front as a result of his longstanding relationship with
key Republicans, Lay hoped to regain his footing in California by forging
ties with prominent Republicans in the state. In May of 2001, Lay convened
a private meeting with junk bond king Michael Milken, Los Angeles' then-Mayor
Richard Riordan and Arnold Schwarzenegger, at which Lay reportedly presented
his vision of solving the state's energy deregulation crisis by, absurd
as it sounds, expanding deregulation. The meeting, about which
the public still knows very little, may become a major issue now
is no longer just a Republican movie star..." [LINK]
Now Bush wants to "review" the electrical grid problems. Well,
he only need look in the mirror and call Tom DeLay and Dick Cheney to
get to the bottom of the issue. With those three people in hand, he won't
have to look any farther for the primary culprits in our government.
And when he's finished, he might have John "KGB" prosecute
the real villains behind all of this -- including the past problems in
California -- starting with Ken Lay.
BUZZFLASH NEWS ANALYSIS