Table 2. Dimensions and consequences of selected energy emergencies


Type of Emergency

A major interruption of oil supply from the Middle East

A shutdown of nuclear electricity generation because of a nuclear accident

A protracted coal strike

An earthquake in the south-central U.S. that seriously damages major oil and gas pipelines, rail lines, and electricity lines in the region

1. Causation

External governmental decisions, political instability, or terrorism

Regulator decision to protect public safety

Labor dispute

Natural hazard (“act of God”)

2. Immediacy

Import cutoffs lagged 5–6 weeks

Immediate effects on electricity supply

End-use energy scarcity lagged up to 90 days

Immediate effects on gas supply to importing regions, and on the electricity grid; various lags otherwise

3. Magnitude

Uncertain; could be serious but unlikely to be catastrophic

Could be substantial in some locales

Probably no more than discomfort in most places; union control over coal supply appears limited

Possibility of immediate dangers to life and health in the affected area but energy impacts unlikely to be the major concerns locally

4. Incidence

Affects most sectors of society and economy in the U.S. and in

Some geographical focus but broad social effects in region where

Focused on coal-producing and coal-using regions

Besides the earthquake region, focused on other regions

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