Sunday, February 6, 2011


Many of  may have missed the huge emergency in northern New Mexico. Some of you don't even believe we are a state. And during the huge storm that brought record low temps (-34F at my house) even the Weather Channel said it covered from Texas to Maine.

We were all huddled down in our homes and getting our news from each other via Internet, Facebook, and telephone. We are an area that has only weekly papers and spotty coverage on radio. Our television is from some other place. But news quickly spread when the natural gas began to run out beginning in Albuquerque and spreading north up the Rio Grande valley to the Colorado border.

First the media lied when they shut down schools. It was because of road conditions. Then various agencies began to make calls quietly offering vouchers to people that might be suffering from the lack of heat. Taos got hit particularly bad because they depend on natural gas and have all the stores we all use. After being house bound for a couple of days everyone hopped over the mountain to shop. Smith's pipes were frozen, and the gas was out everywhere. The electrical coop was in a state of emergency planning for a sudden surge of electrical use do to dependence upon electric space heaters. They quickly sent around e-mails and had mayors in the area post on the internet rules for conservation of energy. They included staying off the internet. This rather reminded me of the Egyptian crisis.

How do you run out of natural gas? Especially in New Mexico where there are huge deposits of it. The explanation was that Texas had shut down the compressors to the gas pipelines to the gas utilities in New Mexico because of rolling electric black outs in Texas due to the cold. Why was this reminding me of the Enron scandal in the early days of GW's presidency? Enron, a Texas based firm, pretended a shortage of electrical power in California and created black outs to enable a raising of the rates. But surely this gas crisis was just a lack of planning and consideration in the wake of a huge unexpected storm?

Evidently not. I was wondering why conservation of electrical usage would necessitate the shutting down of compressors. Surely they could be isolated from the blackouts and kept up and running? And evidently they were. The gas company just chose to send New Mexico's gas to Oklahoma. Why should that have even been their choice?

Some of our residents are beginning to get gas back. Natural gas is being obtained from other pipelines. Residential lines have to be re-pressurized and checked and relit. It is a slow process and natural gas companies from the surrounding area are sending in technicians to help in the laborious process. No doubt this will mean rates get raised. Businesses in Taos and Red River have been shut down since last week and may not have heat until Monday or Tuesday when a new Arctic cold front is coming our way. We are still in a state of emergency especially if this can be pulled on us anytime a corporation decides they want to to increase their profits.

There needs to be a congressional investigation of this and it needs to be now. And I have to ask why wasn't deregulation of public utilities stopped after the Enron scandal? Clearly we cannot depend upon people with a profit motive to act responsibly.