Friday, November 16, 2007

The Soapbox

Taking It in the Tank
By Joe Shehan

Today the Dallas Morning News reported that gas prices reached an all time high for November prices. According to AAA, “this is the first time AAA Texas has seen gas prices topping more than $3 a gallon in November.”

I can remember, when my wife and I started dating about twelve years ago, that I could fill my tank (I had an SUV) for about $10, and still have enough money to buy a couple of videos at Blockbuster. Now, it costs me almost the price of a nice date (dinner, movie and dessert) to fill my car. How did gas prices rise over 400% in the last 10 years?

One answer is that OPEC regulates oil flow, and since the resent insecurity in the Middle East has made oil production more dangerous, they have decided to decrease the amount of oil being produced.

Another answer is that American oil reserves are being depleted because of natural disasters like Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, which destroyed close to 1/3 of America’s refining capabilities.

Yet, another answer is that the oil industries continue to raise oil prices in order to cut a fat check.

These above answers are not the only options to choose from, but they are the most commonly heard. No matter what you believe is the answer there still remains one problem, and that is that oil prices are getting higher and gas is getting more expensive.

For years now, Republicans have been advocating the exploration of more oil. Yet, at every turn they are thwarted by environmentalists who accuse them of being greedy and evil because they wish to drill in ANWAR or off the cost of California. However, many Republicans are extremely environmentally conscious, but they also know how free markets work, and realize that the complete switch over to renewable fuels will take time, and until that point we need affordable fuels to keep going. This would require finding new sources of oil and natural gas.

The dream of renewable energy is a great dream, and can be accomplished. Renewable Energy would make America safer, and would benefit all Americans with its reduction of greenhouse gases, and the reduction of energy costs. Yet, until that day comes, we need to be pragmatic and find a way to fix the problem now. People’s lives and livelihoods are at stake.

As we complain about the cost of gas for our cars, there are families in the north and northeast portions of our country that have to make the decision to have Thanksgiving dinner, or freeze for the winter. This is ridiculous! I would much rather lose a couple of Porcupine caribou, and then have to tell a family they can’t warm their house for the winter. I am not as concerned with the California skyline, as I am with a Carpenter being able to get to and from his worksite, or a single mother being able to get her kids to school and herself to work. These should be the ultimate priorities, not whether or not a natural gas company is making too much noise in a rural neighborhood.

I believe that we must do a better job in taking care of this earth, but I am also pro-human and look for ways to do both the right environmental thing and the right humanitarian thing.

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