Maybe George W. Bush really had an environmental agenda: his laissez-faire non-management of the economy led us into recession, but it also led us to real energy conservation. Factory use of natural gas is projected to drop 8.6% this year. Consumption of electricity may fall 2.6% this year, better than last year's 1.6% drop and the first back-to-back declines since 1949. Demand for all petrofuels in the U.S. dropped 7.1% last year.
(Note for Hyperion fans: the drop in gasoline consumption has driven refiner Flying J Inc. to bankruptcy and shuttered its Bakersfield refinery. That same article reports Sunoco is trying to sell a refinery in Tulsa and will shut it down if it can't find a buyer. As many of us saw last year, the market for Hyperion's "green" refinery in Elk Point is shrinking fast.)
Industrial energy usage usually tracks closely with the economic cycle, but this recession has brought an unusual drop in energy usage in the residential and commercial as well. This reduction in energy usage at the individual represents a laudable frugality, a new thriftiness that more observers think will remain the norm even after we fix this recession.
After a decade of SUV-mania, credit-card bingeing, and home-equity hijinks, we needed a good economic kick in the pants to remind us how to manage our fuel and our finances. If we can learn our lesson and leave more resources in the bank for future generations, the Bush recession may actually reflect well on its progenitor.
***Carolyn Ann Johnson 1938-2016 - In October 2016, an old friend, James A. Johnson, died after being in a nursing home and hospital for some time. I intended to send a memorial and contacte...
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