Over 50 million people got a rude wake up call when the largest blackout in American history occurred on August 14th. One analyst on CNN estimated the cost of lost business at over $30 billion for each day that electricity is not available. As the people in California also realized during their recent rolling blackouts, energy is not just another commodity-it is the very foundation upon which an economy functions. Indeed, there is no product produced that does not have a corresponding energy cost. As a result, without stable and affordable sources of energy, civilization as we know it changes quickly and profoundly. Energy policy also directly impacts the environment and health care costs, as well as U.S. foreign policy.
The Blackout of 2003 as well as the recent rolling blackouts in California were largely created by deregulation rules that allow individual corporate self -interest to displace the collective security and stability of the power industry. The blackout of 2003 also highlighted the fact that the existing power transmission grid is being pushed to its limit and will require a $50 billion investment to upgrade the system, which will ultimately be paid for by ratepayers. While some have compared the U.S. electrical grid as being comparable to that of a Third World country, electrical engineers believe it is the most complex and reliable machine ever built. In any case, the problem is that there has not been a new high-voltage transmission line built in the U.S. in over a decade, which is principally because most people do not want their views permanently scarred with electrical lines. The transmission lines are up in the air because they are hot, and they need to be cooled by the atmosphere. The reason the transmission lines are hot is that they are leaking substantial amounts of energy. While some analysts believe the answer is to simply build more of the same high-voltage lines along with a new generation of unproven nuclear plants, such stopgap actions will create many more problems that they will ever solve.
More Fossil & Nuclear Fuels are not the Answer
In the case of nuclear fuels, while some news commentator's refer to nuclear energy as "clean" energy, seven hours of operation at a 1000-MW nuclear plant generates the same amount of highly toxic radioactivity as the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima. Some of the most lethal wastes, such as Iodine 129, may be invisible; but they are virtually impossible to contain over time; and they will be deadly for 160 million years. One can only wonder how Members of Congress could be so misinformed that they continue to authorize the production of radioactive poisons that will be causing genetic disease and death to humans for the next million centuries.
The electrical transmission system needs to be integrated with the overall energy production and distribution system, which currently runs on fossil and nuclear fuels, which are highly polluting and non-renewable. Given that these resources are being exponentially consumed (i.e., there are more and more people competing for fewer and fewer resources) energy instability and chaos will be inevitable in the future, unless a transition of substance is made to renewable hydrogen production systems. It is only a question of time. While the Bush administration seeks to secure the oil in Iraq and recover the remaining reserves in sensitive offshore or wilderness areas, the democratic leadership is focused on conserving the remaining oil by getting American consumers to give up their SUVs. Both of these policies are equivalent to rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.
Shifting from Fossil & Nuclear fuels with Wartime-Speed
The only sustainable solution proposed (referred to as The Phoenix Project) is to make the U.S. energy independent of all fossil and nuclear fuels by 2010, primarily by mass-producing sea-based Windships (like the Liberty ships of World War II) for large-scale hydrogen production.
As Governor, Harry Braun will help to resolve California's budget deficit by organizing the mass-production of Windships like the Liberty ships of World War II. Millions of people will be employed as Windships transform California into a Saudi Arabia-class energy exporter of hydrogen, the only fuel that is non-toxic, pollution-free, and inexhaustible. Windships, which can be seen on the "braunforgovernor.net" website, will also save ocean ecosystems by preventing destructive fishing practices as oil companies rapidly become solar hydrogen companies.
The Phoenix Project is a $6-trillion dollar "transition of substance" that will be accomplished by passing Fair Accounting Act legislation in the U.S. Congress and the California Legislature that will eliminate subsidies to fossil and nuclear fuels, and factor in the environmental and military costs of using such fuels. This will make solar-sourced hydrogen the least expensive fuel, which is the necessary market incentive for oil and utility companies - not taxpayers-to make the multi-trillion dollar investments in the renewable energy technologies that will be needed for large-scale hydrogen production. As part of this reindustrialization effort, every existing power plant and vehicle (including SUVs, Model T's, aircraft) will be modified to use hydrogen, the only "universal fuel" that can power any existing vehicle or appliance (including SUVs, Model Ts, or aircraft). Hydrogen is also the only energy option that is safer than gasoline in the event of accidents; it is non-toxic if spilled; it is non-polluting when burned, and it is inexhaustible if it is made from water with renewable energy technologies.
An Interstate Hydrogen Pipeline System
Rather than spending $50 billion to construct new and unsightly high voltage transmission lines, those ratepayer funds should be used to build a state-of- the-art Interstate Hydrogen Pipeline System that will transmit electricity as well as hydrogen. Because liquid hydrogen is a low-temperature cryogenic liquid, liquid hydrogen pipelines can be imbedded with superconducting cables that could then transport electricity with virtually no energy loss. Such an Interstate Hydrogen Pipeline System is also being proposed by the highly respected Electrical Power Research Institute (EPRI), and once installed, it would become the invisible backbone of the future U.S. energy infrastructure. As Governor, Harry will work with the California Legislature and Congressional Delegation to organize Hearings on this reindustrialization effort, which will also involve the participation of California's universities and related energy companies.
None of the other gubernatorial candidates is even talking about these issues, but that will not alter that fact that it is 11:59 for not only for California, but also for Spaceship Earth. We are indeed like passengers on the Titanic-and there is only a limited amount of time to change course. Harry Braun has documented the new heading, and because the whole world is now fixated on the California Recall election, if he is elected Governor of California, his Phoenix Project plan will result in national media coverage and scrutiny that will make Congressional Hearings inevitable. The net result will be that oil and other energy companies will rapidly be transformed into solar hydrogen companies, which will allow California to rapidly lead not only America, but also the rest of the world into an unprecedented era of "sustainable prosperity without pollution."