ENERGY….You may know this already, but the New York Times makes a point today about California’s dedication to efficiency and conservation:

This is the state whose per capita energy consumption has been almost flat for 30 years, even as per capita consumption has risen 50 percent nationally.

Actually, as the accompanying graph shows, it’s per capita electricity usage that’s remained flat while it’s increased 50% in the rest of the country. If you look at total per capita energy use, it’s actually declined since 1970 (compared to a modest increase in the rest of the country). At the same time, smog levels in Southern California have been substantially reduced. And do you know why? Largely because California has passed laws forcing it to happen.

Of course, we all know the result, don’t we? As the Republican Party and the corporate community are so fond of declaring, regulation like this inevitably leads to economic disaster. Businesses fail, incomes drop, and the economy goes into a tailspin. It’s nothing short of a disaster.

And yet, the predictable screeching of the corporate community, delivered on pretty much an annual basis, appears to have been wrong. California’s economy has been doing just fine during the decades we’ve pursued these policies. Imagine that.

Anyway, it’s a good article, and goes to show the kinds of things we could be doing nationwide if conservative politicians could put their Chicken Little campaign contributors on hold for a few minutes and take a look at how it’s possible to cut energy use dramatically ? and reduce our dependence on foreign suppliers ? without ruining the economy. The energy industry might not like the idea, but the rest of us would.