Author Archives: Lester B. Lave

The Ethanol Answer to Carbon Emissions


This article is in Homeland Security, Winter 2001-2002


When the United States gets serious about the threat of global climate change, it should turn to ethanol to power cars. The moment is fast approaching when the United States will have to face up to the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is finding growing scientific evidence that […]

Bolstering the Security of the Electric Power System


This article is in Can We Cope if the Lights Go Out?, Spring 2002


The infrastructure cannot be made invulnerable, but the industry can improve its ability to provide service even when attacked. The 2001 terrorist attacks made it clear that our airliners, tall buildings, water, and even our mail are potential targets. What will actually be attacked depends on the terrorists’ goals, the damage that could be done, […]

Electrical Blackouts: A Systemic Problem


This article is in U.S. Forests: Facing New Global Market, Summer 2004


Although human error can be the proximate cause of a blackout, the real causes are found much deeper in the power system. About every four months, the United States experiences a blackout large enough to darken half a million homes. As long ago as 1965, a massive blackout in New York captured the nation’s attention […]

Perspective: Import Ethanol, Not Oil


This article is in The Continuing Problem of Nuclear Weapons, Spring 2006


To paraphrase Mark Twain, people talk a lot of reducing U.S. dependence on imported oil, but they don’t do much about it. Rather than continuing to talk the talk, the United States has a unique window of opportunity to walk the walk. The $2-plus per gallon gasoline prices and our Middle East wars have made […]

Energy Conundrums: Power Play: A More Reliable U.S. Electric System


This article is in Energy Conundrums, Summer 2006


U.S. utilities have a lot to learn about avoiding power outages. They can benefit from the experience of foreign utilities, other U.S. industries, and even their own nuclear power plants. The United States ranks toward the bottom among developed nations in terms of the reliability of its electricity service. Catastrophic events, such as the August […]

A National Renewable Portfolio Standard? Not Practical


This article is in Questions That Blur Political Party Lines, Fall 2008


Legislation that mandates specified electricity production from renewable sources paves a path to costly mistakes because it excludes other sources that can meet the country’s goals. A discussion of renewable energy seems to addle the brains of many sensible people, leading them to propose policies that are bad engineering and science or have a foundation […]