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THE UNION WORKS -- FOR THE NORTHEAST | 2000-03-04

You and I are paying for Federal grants to the Northeast to pay for their heating oil this cold winter.

New Englanders are complaining about the high price of their heating oil. Since respectable conservatives have no memory, it is up to me to remind you of why that bill is so high. There is no reason for New England to be using heating oil to warm their houses. That raises the price of oil for all of us.

It is absurd for this scarce resource to be used for heating houses. Atomic power should be doing it.

All or nearly all of the electric power of France comes from safe, clean nuclear power. Oil is for automobiles.

But we are speaking here of leftist New England, where the Jane Fondistas will not tolerate nuclear power. No one ever died as a result of radiation from a nuclear power plant in the Western world, and Europe has a perfect track record using it. But the leftists managed to keep it almost entirely out of the Northeast by their attacks on Seabrook.

The leftist argument is that, while no one has died from nuclear power in the West, there COULD be some risk. By contrast, they say, no one dies producing the good old, "safe" sources of power like coal and oil. That is, no one who matters.

As I pointed out on November 6 in "Leftist 'Champions of the Working Class' Never See Working People", an old rightist like me knows lots of oil rig workers and coal miners who can tell you about many, many people who died producing the "safe" forms of energy. But leftists never meet real working people, so the dangers of other forms of energy, as opposed to nuclear power, are unknown to them.

Back when the anti-nuclear movement was at its peak, New England had a cheap source of oil. The government required Louisiana, Texas, and Oklahoma to provide oil at lower-than-market prices under price controls. So New Englanders preferred to use artificially cheap Southern oil and follow fashion by being anti-nuclear.

It is important to remember that those oil price controls were another triumph of Our Glorious Union. When New England controlled most of the industry in America, Southerners were required to pay a lot more for those products because of government tariffs, which artificially raised the price of New England industrial goods. When the South became the main source of oil, the government acted to be sure that the East got Southern oil cheaply at the South's expense.

The South is still suffering from the decades in which New England railway owners charged several times as much to send industrial products north as sending them south. This internal, private tariff kept industry out of the South for generations. The New Deal began the process of ending it, but this process was not complete until after the New Deal (and World War II) ended.

As I said, no respectable conservative has any memory of any long-term liberal policy disaster. So no one but me is going to remind you that New England's successful war against nuclear energy is the reason their fuel costs are so high this winter. OPEC has raised the price of oil, and since the Reagan Administration got rid of price controls on oil, New England cannot simply stick its fangs back in the South's throat to get cheap oil.

So New England uses our tax money to burn scarce oil to heat its houses. It is important to remember that their trendy victories over nuclear power costs you and me money each time we go to the oil pump.