Solution To Energy Crisis May Be Using Less

(11/05/2005)

Dear Editor,

The thrust of your editorial "Oil Companies Make Biggest Profits, Ever, Ever, Ever" seems to be that American politicians should be forcing oil companies to lower gas prices and build more refineries to produce more gasoline. This is exactly the wrong thing to do. We need to be developing a wide range of solutions to the current energy crisis. The first step in this process is to figure out how to use less oil, not more.

Our entire population is now dependent on cars burning gasoline because politicians have pursued policies that allowed cities to sprawl over hundreds of square miles, allowed rural commercial centers to decay and disappear, heaped subsidies on highway construction and defunded our passenger train system. Americans are getting fat and unhealthy because they have to use cars to do even the most routine chores and no longer get any exercise walking to stores or schools.

We are paying our politicians a lot of money to come up with solutions. I don't care what the solutions are as long as they are good ones that work. I do know that investment in cheaper gas and more refineries is exactly the wrong way to go. One of the main reasons gas prices have fallen recently is that Americans are simply using less gas. Millions of people are making individual decisions to do something to solve our energy mess. We are figuring it out for ourselves even if our leaders can't. Conservation, simply using less oil, is one very good cheap way that individuals can contribute to a good solution. Don't tell me that West Virginians are suffering too much from high gas prices. I still see lots of people driving four wheelers when they could just as easily be walking or riding bikes.

By the way, I recently heard that an increase in the average gas mileage for all US passenger cars of about 8 miles per gallon would completely eliminate the need to import oil from Saudi Arabia. There is pretty convincing evidence that Saudi oil money continues to flow into Al Qaeda attacks around the world. Why are none of our political leaders taking steps to really fight terrorism by depriving Al Qaeda of continued funding from oil profits earned from American consumers?

Bill Howley
Chloe, WV