Much of the country's cotton planting and winter wheat harvest is occurring in California, a state that has been plagued by power woes.
An electricity rate hike goes into effect this month, which will cost Californians five-point-seven billion dollars. The increase is meant to cover soaring power costs and force conservation.
Agricultural producers are already employing a variety of techniques to cut electricity costs such as switching irrigation pumps from electric power to diesel and irrigating at night.
The imposition of conservation on Californians comes at a time when the White House has been pushing for more energy production through conventional sources. But the White House environmental view may be shifting.
The U-S recently has come under fire for the current administration's rejection of the Kyoto Protocol, an agreement to reduce gasses associated with global warming. When President Bush visits Europe next week, he will be promoting his own greenhouse gas reduction plan armed with a recently released report from the National Academy of Sciences. The Bush administration ordered the report earlier this year.
The study supports much of what the scientific community commonly holds to be true, specifically, global warming is real. Researchers also arrived at a number of other conclusions, including:
--The surface temperature of the planet has increased at a greater rate during the past twenty years than throughout the first part of the twentieth century
--Increased greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere are caused by a host of factors, including human activities
--Climate change is likely to create more weather extremes such as flooding and drought
Though the study qualifies predictions by stating the inadequacy of current modeling techniques to account for all factors, the report specifically mentions semi-arid regions such as the Great Plains as likely to be impacted most by a change in climate.
Republicans on the House side of Congress approved an 18.9 billion-dollar spending measure that restores money to energy and conservation programs that the President had cut from his budget.
On the Senate side, Vermont Independent James Jeffords is now chairman of the Environmental and Public Works committee. Jeffords is expected to push an ambitious environmental and energy agenda. The shift in Senate leadership has killed most talk of opening the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil exploration.
For his part President Bush is stumping the country, talking about the tax cut he signed into law this week. But on a stop in Iowa the President dashed the hopes of corn growers when he failed to announce a denial of California Clean Air waivers. Such a rejection could open a huge market for corn-based ethanol.