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The Government is Responsible for California Gas Leak

Written By Geoffrey Pike

Posted April 13, 2016

socalleakLast October, there was a major leak of methane gas from the region’s largest natural gas storage field in Aliso Canyon. This is located in northern Los Angeles County, which forced the evacuation of thousands of families from their homes.

While the leak has supposedly stopped, the fallout from the event is far from over. When such an event happens – especially one where residents have to flee – it tends to put a damper on the housing market. In fact, it is reported that home sales have fallen 44% recently.

While we should be sympathetic for those who have had their lives severely disrupted, perhaps there is some irony in this story with California – the left coast – being the center of environmental fanaticism in the United States.

Still, the state has a heavy reliance on natural gas. This just shows that there is some risk in virtually any kind of energy source. It doesn’t have to be nuclear power to have risks.

The environmentalists can call for getting rid of fossil fuels, but solar power just isn’t going to cut it at this point.

I have absolutely nothing against solar power or any other so-called renewable sources, but they shouldn’t be subsidized by the government, or in other words, we the taxpayer.

Some of the energy sources that the left favors may be the wave of the future. But they should be the wave of the future through market forces because of their efficiency and their ability to meet consumer demand. This means no subsidies through government.

California always seems to be having problems whether it is wildfires, droughts, or flash floods. Some of it is nature, but the government (state and federal) often does not get enough credit (blame) for what happens.

Don’t Blame Capitalism

We do live in a country of about 320 million people. Stuff happens. When we have that many people, almost all of whom require food, shelter, energy, and other basic needs, then things will always happen. There will always be accidents and mistakes.

The biggest question is how these mistakes can be minimized in number and in impact.

To think that government solutions will help eliminate these mistakes is naïve at best.

The gas storage facility in Los Angeles was leaking for about 16 weeks before it was recently stopped. Many residents are still not back in their homes. Unfortunately, many people have reported health issues after being exposed to this major leak.

The gas facility is owned by Southern California Gas, which is already paying for families to stay at hotels. We can expect there to be lawsuits and other fines that go along with this incident.

Of course, the people who have been damaged by this accident should be compensated in some way. Restitution is a part of capitalism, as it is an attempt to restore property rights to those who were the victims.

I know the left likes to point a finger at big business, but this is the energy sector. It is basically a government monopoly for all intents and purposes. What isn’t owned by the government is heavily regulated by it. In terms of bringing electricity to people’s homes, there is little in the way of competition that is allowed.

Ultimately, the free market will find unique ways to compete, even if not directly. Just as email has competed with the Post Office and cell phones have competed (and almost killed) the phone companies in the landline industry, the same will happen with energy given enough time.

As of right now, the state of California is facing another crisis. This recent accident means another energy shortage, which could mean blackouts in southern California this summer.

But when you hear about blackouts in California this summer, don’t just blame the gas leak for this problem. Blame the lack of free market competition and the strangling government regulations that do not allow for an abundance of energy to be produced.