New York could be the next American city to experience electricity blackouts, as the power crisis spreads East from California. Power managers in Boston and other New England cities said they could keep the power running through the summer unless an especially hot summer caused customers to use more air conditioning that usual.

Vice President Dick Cheney warned that the U.S. must generate more of its own energy or risk California-style blackouts on a national scale. ?It?s very important we get on with this business of making certain we?ve got enough energy in the future or we will find that the problems in California today are in fact national in scope and affect al part of the country,? he said. ?We?ve got to find ways to either increase the supply of energy or reduce the demand for energy?This is not something we got into overnight and we?re not going to get out of it overnight.?

In California, blackouts were announced for two days in a row. Cars crashed when traffic lights failed, and thousands of homes and businesses were plunged into darkness. Office workers trapped in an elevator in a 22-story building had to climb out through escape hatches on to the roof, then use the stairs, guided by candlelight.

Unlike the earlier blackouts, which affected a relatively small section of the state, this week?s blackouts hit more populous areas, from the Silicon Valley to Beverly Hills and Santa Monica. San Diego and Sacramento were also affected. There are growing fears that the lights at the Oscars ceremony could be extinguished by a rolling blackout.

Commentary: Are these blackouts a genuine problem or a ploy to force massive increases in fuel prices and induce the public to allow oil drilling in pristine areas? In California, for example, natural gas prices are six times higher than anywhere else in the U.S. Why? The State of California is presently investigating this issue in an effort to determine if price-gouging is the reason.

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