Daniel Davies’s Three Laws Summarized

Via the sainted and gorgeous Bess Levin at Dealbreaker the erudite Felix Salmon at Portfolio.com, Michael Giberson at Knowledge Problem summarizes why even a Bush Administration initiative that might have had an upside falls victim to Daniel Davies’s Three Laws:

In response to disruptions caused by Hurricane Gustav, the DOE has indicated a willingness to release reserves from the SPR. Unfortunately, due to a continuing power outage – also caused by Hurricane Gustav – the DOE is unable to pump oil from storage.

Disruptions serious enough to be “economically threatening,” whatever that means, are very rare events – the U.S. has only released oil in such circumstances a few times in the SPR’s 35-year history. Power outages are also rare events. If the two kinds of events were uncorrelated, then simultaneous power outages and economically-threatening disruptions in oil supplies would unlikely in the extreme. But the two kinds of events are not uncorrelated, obviously.

As Platts reports, the SPR does have backup generators on site, but the generators produce insufficient power to permit pumping from storage. Any release of oil from the SPR will have to wait for power to be restored to the area. [emphases mine, but see the original’s as well]

So those past seven years of adding to the Reserve can be added to the list of abject failures when the time came for them to actually perform.