Energy: The Cruelest Month

The National Weather Service last week made it official. After consulting informal temperature records kept by such oldtimers as Thomas Jefferson, Henry Thoreau and Noah Webster, the service announced that January in the eastern two-thirds of the country was the coldest month in 177 years. If temperatures through March run only moderately below normal, said the weathermen, the nation will have a true Bicentennial winter: the most shivery since the founding of the Republic.

Other figures documented how cruel a case of frostbite the January chill gave the economy. Industrial production in January fell a full percentage point, the biggest drop in...

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