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Letters to the Editor

Letter: Break oil cycle

May 28, 2014

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To the editor:

Like the movie “Groundhog Day,” the U.S. keeps repeating the same scenario on oil that began decades ago with the first Arab embargo: A crisis somewhere in the world disrupts global oil supplies, sending prices higher and hurting our economy.

In the long run, our nation will be better off if we end our self-destructive addiction to oil, no matter where it comes from. Higher gas prices threaten to slow our economic recovery, and some politicians are citing this as a reason to open more areas up for oil drilling and to approve the Keystone XL pipeline.

Instead of expanding oil’s influence, to break our addiction to oil and to improve our energy and economic security, Reps. Yoder and Jenkins and Sens. Roberts and Moran should support legislation, like the Save Our Climate Act, that prices carbon. 

America must transition its automotive fleet to vehicles that run on electricity or biofuels: fuels that can be produced from clean renewable sources. We can speed that transition with a price on carbon that makes these alternatives more attractive to consumers. Returning revenue from the carbon fee to the public will shield our economy from the impact of rising energy costs associated with the fee while renewable energy is catching on.

The only way to protect our economy from price shocks in the oil market is to break the cycle of dependency on oil.

Comments

Scott Burkhart 6 months, 3 weeks ago

I urge Reps. Yoder and Jenkins, Sens. Roberts and Moran to ignore this letter. Pricing carbon is another wealth redistribution con.

Bart Johnson 6 months, 3 weeks ago

These words are just meaningless scaremongering. The US is "addicted" to oil? This is just silly nonsense words. The reality is that lost-cost energy sources have directly led to our high standard of living. Not only is the author of the LTE asking people to impoverish themselves, but he wants them to vote to impoverish others too with the violent force of the government. That's just wrong.

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 6 months, 3 weeks ago

Then what is your answer? And if we are not addicted to oil, lets just stop using it. Let's just ignore the Middle East. If you are not in favor of a carbon tax, then explain to me why oil and coal companies are trying to block alternative, renewable energies? Why are states trying to block the sale of electric cars not sold through dealerships? Why did Oklahoma start taxing people with solar panels? Why aren't we doing everything possible to encourage alternate technologies that would still provide a high standard of living, but ensure that our grandchildren will have the same standard. What would be wrong with using renewable energies, thus using less oil and coal making those finite resources last for generations. Are we that selfish?

Bart Johnson 6 months, 3 weeks ago

" Why aren't we doing everything possible to encourage alternate technologies that would still provide a high standard of living, but ensure that our grandchildren will have the same standard"

There is nothing that needs to be done. We have barely tapped the hydro-carbons in the Earth's crust. Regardless, the market provides incentives for this. As prices rise, alternatives become more profitable, thus creating new opportunities for entrepreneurs and new markets. There is no need to do anything at all, if you mean ask the government to interfere in the free market.

Ken Lassman 6 months, 3 weeks ago

Free market??? Ask the government not to interfere with the "free market??" Surely you can't be serious. Even that radical rag, the Economist, reported that global government subsidies to fossil fuel commpanies increased from $311 billion in 2009 to $544 billion in 2012: http://www.economist.com/news/finance-and-economics/21593484-economic-case-scrapping-fossil-fuel-subsidies-getting-stronger-fuelling

Who benefits from those incredible subidies? The already wealthy and influential folks, perhaps??? People complain about wealth redistribution efforts as being counter to "free market" forces that reinforce the clean winners, but the current system of subsidies and privileges is so far from a level playing field that the only way to describe it is the most extensive wealth redistribution program in history.

Bart Johnson 6 months, 2 weeks ago

Sounds good. End the intervention in the market and let the customers vote with their dollars.

Ken Lassman 6 months, 2 weeks ago

That's exactly what the carbon fee and dividend does. It levies a tax on carbon at the mine/wellhead/border and gives it back directly to the taxpayer in the form of a monthly check. The taxpayer can then use it to pay off the higher gas bill or save it up to pay for a car with better mileage/more efficient furnace or air conditioner or rooftop solar or HumVee if they like. This way, while the politicians are claiming they aren't addicted to fossil fuel subsidies to their campaigns, and squrreling around doing anything they can do not to level the playing field, the taxpayer can vote with their dividend dollars as to what kind of energy future they want. The alternative is a top-down approach with the EPA regulators setting the bar and states deciding how they are going to remain under that bar, a system we're going to hear a lot more about after the announcement tomorrow.

Bart Johnson 6 months, 2 weeks ago

Sounds great. Certainly something so good does not require a government to be involved at all.

Bob Smith 6 months, 3 weeks ago

If you like your mud hut, you can keep your mud hut.

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 6 months, 3 weeks ago

So you are totally against anything that is not oil or coal? Why? You are against solar and wind power? You don't have to live in a mud hut, but 2 people do not need a 5 bedroom, 5 bath house either. If we had solar panels on every building and wind power in rural areas, we would slow the rapid depletion of oil and coal. What will your grandchildren think of you when they realize you did nothing to help them? Oh right, you'll be dead by then, and could care less what happens to them. I feel really sorry for you.

Ken Lassman 6 months, 3 weeks ago

Folks are correct about energy use correlating to well-being, but it's not a simple correlation. Per capita energy consumption in the US is 7164 kilograms oil equivalent/yr while it is only 4003 in Germany and 3898 in Japan. Neither place seems to suffer technology-wise as a result, although there are other variables--population density comes to mind. So I looked up these countries, and sure enough, Germany's population density is 585 people/sq.mi and Japan's is 870 while here in the US it's 83. So it takes more energy to live in the US partly because we're spread out more.

But wait. I looked around on the population density chart and the energy use chart and found these numbers interesting:

Venzuela: population density same as US, with only 2668 kgoe/yr consumed. Many folks don't consider the lifestyles to be equivalent with us, tho.

Sweden: population density: 61/sq. mi, which is less dense than the US and yet its per capita consumption is only 5468. Interesting. How about some other Scandanvian countries:

Finalnd: pop. density of only 47, using only 6787 kgoe per capita per year.

Norway: 40 people/sq. mi. and 6637 kgoe per capita per year

Canada: only 9.23 people per square mile and 7379 kgoe per capita per year.

So it sure looks like even in colder countries with less population density, you can live just as comfortably using less energy. That is certainly the case with more densely populated countries as well.

Finally, US per capita energy use peaked in 1979, and while there have been some bumps and dips along the way, we are currently using around 14% less energy per capita than we did back then, despite considerable technological progress. So it seems clear that a drop in energy consumption does not have to mean a drop in living conditions and furthermore there are plenty of additional ways to reduce energy waste and maintain your standard of living. I say, lets reduce the waste and produce energy in ways that are renewable, sustainable and if possible, as "locally grown" as possible.

Chris Golledge 6 months, 3 weeks ago

Cheap energy has produced our high standard of living. Fossil fuel consumption has degraded our ability to grow food. Energy can be a little more expensive, or food can be a lot more expensive.

Leslie Swearingen 6 months, 3 weeks ago

First of all we are talking about the lifestyles of millions of people, strangers who have no interest in what we think about energy use. Let's face reality here, people, life is a crapshoot.

Good comment Bob, I liked it.

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