Monday, September 15, 2008

Got gas?

So it's been a busy week, if one watches the news. Naturally the recent storms have made headlines. My own family watched Ike's passing with great interest. First because my oldest lives near downtown Houston, and second because he works for one of the local stations. We got to view local coverage from the online feed. We also were quite surprised by the effect this storm had on the gas markets.

It didn't really make much sense to me when I learned that so many gas stations were not only raising the prices, but were selling out of fuel. While I understand the need to temporarily shut down oil platforms, refineries and pipelines in the face of some really bad weather, to see a major panic attack set in because of it took me by complete surprise. Who started this unnecessary and expensive panic? Who knows, but once started, even the media who kept reporting about fuel price risings and shortages at the pump, possibly fueling the panic,(no pun intended) couldn't get people to listen to the sound advice of "don't panic this is temporary and a wise precaution. Things will be up and running in a few days".

Thankfully any damage to our fuel infrastructure in the Houston area was minimal at best, and that entity will be back in full swing, likely as soon as the power is all back on. Apparently the panic was merely that, panic brought on by people already nervous about the economy of our energy infrastructure.

The arguments from capital hill, and the campaign trails don't do much to help people feel any better about the future of our energy sources. There is a lot of arguments about whether or not to drill in Alaska and offshore, there are debates about the greenhouse effect, there are some tax incentives for buying energy efficient appliances or hybrid cars, and there are some rumblings about alternative energy down the road, all while the urging of further taxing oil companies. I see from those sources a lot of talk, and very little positive action.

While I am not a completely avid environmentalist I do firmly believe that we need sound sensible solutions for conservation and energy usage, as well as to find cleaner and renewable sources of energy. We already recycle here at our home, burn those high efficiency light bulbs, use energy star rated appliances and electronics, keep our thermostats at warmer, or cooler settings depending on the season, and keep our vehicles in optimal condition so they use gas more effeicently. The only reason we haven't jumped onto the hybrid car bandwagon is the cost. I just don't see how a $400 a month car payment is going to offset the price I pay at the pump. Our cars are older but paid for. Going into debt to save a few dollars at the gas pump to me makes no financial sense.

Which is why a television ad intrigued me. I'm sure some of you have seen the ads that T. Boone Pickens has been airing lately. I got curious and went to the website http://www.pickensplan.com/index.php and immediately saw that here was someone who had decided not to wait on the government to fix things, and was instead taking positive steps to do so himself. It's suggesting among other things a shift to wind power to help free up natural gas for vehicles and other energy uses. It does urge more oil drilling but recognizes that as a short term solution. The site is non-partisian and doesn't support any political candidate. It instead is a grassroots effort for change in the energy sector.The website is a good source of information, contains a petition we can send to congress to urge them to take actual positive action, web groups, forums, and news. Yes, I signed right up.

While there is news in our area about using old landfills to turn methane to electricity, and negotiations for a new nuclear plant there is much we as individuals can do. If a new nuclear plant is built, and that is a big if, seeing how the last plant went online about 20 years ago, construction will take quite awhile. And to me it is merely a short term answer. They still haven't solved the waste problem which needs to be done. While smart cars and hybrids are flying off the car lots that sell them, they don't have a large impact in our local economy or energy infrastructure. While we have a decent mass transit system in Spartanburg, it is still underused, and doesn't affect most of us who live outside the city limits. We of this beautiful are I now call home need to step up to the plate and do more.

Does Mr. Boone have THE solution? Well I think that he is offering at least a couple of them, and I do agree that it is us, the people of this country that can make things happen. I also agree that it is time to remind our congress men and women that they are to be representing our interests, not the other way around.

1 comment:

Mike King said...

You should see all the wind power down here in Texas. It was a couple cents more a kilowatt hour, but I signed up for clean energy when I moved here. Apparently, 60% of my energy is produced by the wind, the other 40% by coal. They are saying, though, if the country were truly to invest in wind and solar energy, we could easily power everyone cheaply. The problem - oil and power companies would lose money - and they just don't want that happening now do they?