The timing was way too convenient - just days to weeks before crucial votes on Bush's sweeping energy plan and Clear Skies Initiative - both designed to dramatically overempower and expand the fossil-fuel-driven electrical power generating industry. Afterall, if the 9/11 disaster got G.W. the Patriot Acts, why shouldn't a massive power outage get him "Energy Acts"?
According to David Doniger of the Natural Resources Defense Council, Clear Skies will allow power plant carbon emissions (the top greenhouse gas) to increase by up to 16 percent between 2000 and 2010 - and this at a time when the ravages of global warming are becoming alarmingly obvious and air pollution related asthmas among children have been steadily climbing. Says Vivian Stockman of the Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition: "If there were requirements for truth in government labeling, the 'Clear Skies' initiative would be called 'Clear Lies.' This is just another sadly typical case of doublespeak, which the administration uses in attempts to hide the truth about its environmental policies."
The Bush energy plan, also up for consideration in Congress, is nearly as bad, aiming just a little lower, at the pocket instead of the lungs. Here's how the NY Times put it in their August 15 edition:
"The focus of the energy bill has been on a controversial plan from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to rewrite power grid rules and require U.S. utilities to join super-regional grid groups. But that focus could shift to system reliability in the face of the blackouts.The industry needs about $50 billion to $100 billion in new investment, according to the Electric Power Research Institute, an industry funded group in Palo Alto, California."
What this would entail, physically, is the construction of an unbelievably massive, unbelievably ugly network of giant new power lines marching across the countryside. This means that millions of acres of land will be claimed by the federal government as "public domain." Your nice little suburb or farmhouse could soon be sitting in the shadow of power lines and/or switching stations.
What this will mean, economically, is disaster for the consumer. Bush plans to deregulate the industry as well as calling for tens of billions in grid "upgrades" (To the average electrical engineer, an upgrade would no doubt mean a renovation of an existing utility. To Bush, an "upgrade" means handing corporate pals billions of dollars and a license to screw the public, environment, and future). Does anyone not a permanent resident of Romper Room seriously imagine that this will not translate into skyrocketing power bills - a cost that will hit the poor, the ill, small business, and strapped local governments the hardest?
What is truly ironic is that this week's power failure occurred in the area where the power industry had been MOST DEREGULATED. In the Mid-Atlantic, by contrast, the grid was able to protect itself from the cascade and customers remained unaffected. Yet Bush will without doubt start pushing immediately for deregulation as part of his famous "energy plan." By the way, isn't this the same "energy plan" that featured a list of still-secret names? An energy plan "sold" using a massive blackout that held millions hostage for dozens of hours, and headed up by a list of shadowy corporate figures whose names are being withheld from the public in violation of federal law. Yep, sounds like the Bush Reich to me.
Back to the amazingly coincidental blackout. As soon as it happened, Bush didn't miss a beat. Three minutes into his truly cheezy, semi-lucid statement on the night of August 14 (he acted like someone had either just woke him up or sobered him up and shoved him before the cameras) he was calling for "upgrades." After a major disaster of any sort, most leaders, be they mayors or presidents, don't bring that sort of thing up as their first thought. The human element comes first, for political correctness if nothing else. What if, standing next to the destroyed WTC towers, Guiliani's first comment had been, "Guess its time to get busy building better towers."? You would expect that sort of comment after a disaster only from a sharkish contractor...The sort who are now circling Iraq ...not to mention the Congressional halls where Bush's energy plan will soon be debated.
But make no mistake (to use a favorite White House buzz phrase) Bush's comment on 8/14 was the statement of a sharkish contractor. He was making sure, early on, to inject the notion that the power grid system failed because the whole thing needs to be upgraded and the only way to upgrade (we will soon be hearing) is through the Bush energy plan.. He and his henchman will, sans doubt, repeat this fallacy over and over in coming days, just as they did the Al-Queda- Saddam lie.
Yet Bush, while worrying about contractor-benefiting upgrades, failed to even OFFER to cancel his fund-raising dinner for Arnold Schwartzenegger and come back East. This action suggests he is either more outrageously out of touch with the requirements of being a leader than we already assumed, or that he KNEW that the power outage would be a short-lived, nonserious event. (afterall, if he did not know this, then, as a good leader, he should have assumed things could get worse before they got better and planned accordingly.)
The very fact that Bush was in CALIFORNIA the moment of the blackout seems orchestrated to me...as if the event was staged as a crude way to both distance Bush from the "scene of the crime" and to draw attention back to the California energy crisis. In the simple-mindedly devious world of Karl Rove and other White House schemers, if you hit the public over the head hard and long enough with the same lie or pairing of two "images" (Al Queda-Saddam....California-blackouts/energy crisis), they can, like so many heifers, be steered in any direction you want.
Another suspicious point in the blackout scenario is NYC Republican Mayor Bloomberg's ABSOLUTE PROMISE that the power would be back on by Friday. How could anyone possibly predict this with such certainty - would even DARE to, in Bloomberg's position of public trust- unless they KNEW that the cause for the outage was readily correctable. A glitch in the system, rather than severe physical damage somethere. This is a diagnosis power engineers were not willing to make even hours after the outage began. Yet when Bloomberg made this bold prediction within an hour. That he was wrong is simply proof that the best laid evil plans of mice and morons sometime go astray.
The New York grid has a very sophisticated system for responding to failures at any given point in the system to prevent any cascade effect. As the engineers are now saying - it shouldn't have happened. Not without help, anyway. By the way -if we are all forced to be on the same supergrids, what happens if there IS a real disaster? We all go down together? No thank you! I don't think any of us wants to become a domino.
All through the night of August 14-15 power engineering experts across the country were already weighing in on the myterious giant blackout in the Northeastern US. It shouldn't have happened, they said -not with the "checks and balances" built into that system. Lightening? No tangible sign of such an event, say eyewitnesses in the vicinity of the Niagra Falls power plant - in fact, the conditions weren't even right. Yes, a "point blackout" could have happened, but a massive cascade? Something is fishy here. That has been the repeated assessment.
My own first observation last night was how very "accommodating" the outage was of Wall Street: the lights did not go out until the stock market closed for the day. And it happened on a Thursday, as if to insure that travel would have a good chance to resume by the weekend.
Now that widespread suspicions are being raised about the cause of the blackout, and the restoration of power is taking longer than Bloomberg, et al. predicted, the Bush camp is changing its tune. On the morning of August 15, Bloomberg asserted that the whole thing was Canada's fault! I'm just surprised they didn't try to blame France.
I suspect the plan was only supposed to just last a few hours, hust long enough to create high anxiety and chaos (without high anxiety and chaos, Bush cannot remain unimpeached for long), and make a nifty case for the Bush energy plan and Clear Skies Initiative. But, just as the "smart bombs" in Iraq were not so smart afterall, the Bush blackout plan has not proved to be such a sweet off--and-on operation. Instead, it is going to cost America a packet - in fact, probably at least as much as all the money just returned in tax cuts.
Of course, the prolonged nature of the blackout in NYC could have a more sinister cause: Could it be that the plucky, unperturbed response of New Yorkers wasn't what the Bush Reich was hoping for? And that the prolonged blackout in miserable heat is just the Reich's way of putting the screws to their victims, pushing them to the desired point of desperation where they will gratefully (Bush hopes) sign away their firstborn? My bet is that New Yorkers are made of sterner stuff than this and the Bush scheme will still fail to bring them to their knees.
Did an Electromagnetic pulse - or Failure to Follow the Rules- "Zap" the Northeast Grid?
So what modus operandi could someone use to disable the entire Northeastern power grid? The favorite conspiracy theory being fielded so far is an EMP, or electromagnetic pulse. The US Military has been developing EMP weaponry for disabling aspects of enemy infrastructure, especially communications systems. A strategically targeted "zap" with such a weapon could, theoretically, have achieved the desired effect. here's an excerpt from "Above Top Secret," a website dedicated to recording such developments as EMP:
"Commercial computer equipment is particularly vulnerable to EMP effects, as it is largely built up of high density Metal Oxide Semiconductor (MOS) devices, which are very sensitive to exposure to high voltage transients. What is significant about MOS devices is that very little energy is required to permanently wound or destroy them, any voltage in typically in excess of tens of Volts can produce an effect termed gate breakdown which effectively destroys the device. Even if the pulse is not powerful enough to produce thermal damage, the power supply in the equipment will readily supply enough energy to complete the destructive process. Wounded devices may still function, but their reliability will be seriously impaired. Shielding electronics by equipment chassis provides only limited protection, as any cables running in and out of the equipment will behave very much like antennae, in effect guiding the high voltage transients into the equipment. "
A far less exotic scenario is that someone at one of the northeastern power stations caused the cascade simply by failing to follow the rules- intentionally or unintentionally. As one engineer put it during an interview on August 15, in the deregulated system , the rules are now "suggested" rather than mandatory. Even if caught, the guilty party would not be technically culpable.
In any case Bush and Co. have a lot to answer for. Maybe it's time they started.
THE ENERGY PLOT THICKENS....
Now, to another aspect of this energy "crisis" and the issues surrounding it that may prove to have very significant bearing on the blackout. Ironically, I had started this article BEFORE the blackout, on the morning of the 14th.
August 14 Decision by Bush Administration Panders to the Ohio Valley Coal Industry -Leading Supplier of Coal to the Power Industry
"Daddy won't you take me back to Muhlenberg County,
Down by the Green River where Paradise lay?
I'm sorry, my son, but you're too late in asking,
Mr. Peabody's coal train has hauled it away."
- Appalachian Folk song
When it came to handing more power over to the the already-bloated media through the proposed changes in FCC regulations, the Bush administration gave the public the bum's rush, allowing barely 6 weeks for comments and refusing to extend the public input period.
Now, the coal industry is trying to fight proposed regulations that would protect the ravaged Appalachian environment from the devastating effects of lopping off the tops of mountains to cheaply extract the coal there. This hideous practice is ruining formerly pristine mountain streams and rivers. It isn't too surprising that there have been extremely few public comments OPPOSING the proposed protective regulations.
So what does the Bush administration do? It EXTENDS the deadline period. Not by the paltry two or three weeks the FCC issue got, but by OVER FOUR MONTHS!! (130 days) to January 4, 2004. That will give the corporazis plenty of time to mobilize their Freeper brigades, who will do their damnedest to "stuff the ballot box."
Of course, the Bush case justifying "topping" is based on the supposedly urgent need for more and cheaper coal to fuel new power plants. And, the need for new power plants, of course, has just been oh-so-conveniently "highlighted" by the mysterious power blackout. This event, with astonishingly opportune timing, occurred the very day it was announced that the time for "comments" on the mountain topping had been extended. No doubt Bush & Co. imagined that the public would rush right out and clamor for mountain top coal as a way to avoid another blackout.
To read about just how deep into the pocket of the coal industry this administration read the following article, a reprint from last Spring.
PEABODY COAL COMPANY BARONS TOP CHENEY'S SECRET ENERGY TASK FORCE LIST
August 5: Bush's Clear Skies Initiative, designed to all but overturn the Clean Air Initiative and give power-generating utilities a license to spew the worst greenhouse gasds into the air, unrestricted, faces a stiff uphill battle in Congress in the coming weeks. The Bush EPA creates what amounts to a sales pitch for the Initiative in its website. But opposition to the initiative is building, especially with the summer's abundant evidence of global warming.
August 9-13: Mysterious computer worm disables several key indymedia sites, rending them unable to add new postings after during the period of the blackout.
Morning of August 14: In the Ohio Valley, in the coal-mining district, the coal industry has aggressively been seeking to block regulations prohibiting them from trashing the environment by loppipng off the tops of mountains to mine coal - a practice that has been devastating rivers and streams, and desecrating the landscape.But, so far, the public input period for regulations has yielded an overwhelming majority of anti-mining comments. On the morning of the 14th, the Bush administration allows the period for public comment to be extended, outrageously, until January 4.
POINT TO REMEMBER: The number one consumer of coal from the Ohio Valley is the ELECTRICAL GENERATION INDUSTRY.
Morning August 14: Bush in California, distancing himself from the Northeast by 3,500 miles and placing himself at the site of the last massive electricity crisis, a crisis that proved to have been largely engineered by Ken Lay and other energy barons looking for easy billions.
Afternoon of August 14: an inexplicably huge blackout hits the Northeast, including the Ohio Valley.
Evening, August 14: Bush makes a three-minute statement that includes a call (already!) to upgrade the national power grid (and by extension, of course, the energy generating system, regulations and all). He will repeat this call every single time he speaks for the next 24 hours (and no doubt beyond).
Evening of August 14:Several possible causes for the blackout are being fielded, but many people in the industry express suspicion that it was "engineered."
Afternoon of August 15 It now being suggested in the mainstream media that the power outage originated in the OHIO VALLEY.
Bush Energy Plan to Heavily Feature Coal-Fired Power Plants...burning Ohio Valley Coal