Inside the Capitol

Thursday, July 24, 2008

7-28 Energy Independence Requires Us All

Syndicated Columnist

SANTA FE -- America has an energy crisis because nearly all of us are hypocrites. Most of us say we want energy independence. Somewhat fewer say we are worried about global warming, Fewer than that are concerned about greenhouse gasses.
And very few of us are motivated to do much about these matters as far as our personal lives are concerned.
It's certainly true in my personal life. We bought our first SUV last fall. It takes us o long road trips in January and February to southern New Mexico, Arizona and California where the weather is warm.
We have room for everything we want to take, plus all those things we have stored for our kids until they were in houses with adequate storage.
The tankety-tank, as my wife calls it, gets 27 miles a gallon on the road and is big enough to compete with the other behemoths we previously couldn't see around. We'll keep it.
We also switched a major portion of our investments to energy stocks when the current administration took over in 2000. I figured those guys were going to be very good to their friends and we might as well be friends. It has worked out nicely.
Others had different reasons for ignoring the energy crisis. Analysts tell us the American culture is built around freedom of movement, self -esteem and endless abundance that sustains our national optimism and nourishes our national character. And it will be very difficult to change.
But cheap gas won't happen again as it did following our first energy crisis 35 years ago. If we would have done more to solve it then, we wouldn't be sending $700 billion out of our economy every year to buy foreign oil now.
It was just that we couldn't bear the thought of being without tail fins, muscle cars and the freedom to drive anywhere, anytime in the biggest monster we could find.
So where is our personal sacrifice? What are we doing ourselves to be a part of making America energy independent?
Last month, I asked that question indirectly and received answers from readers about ways in which they conserve. The most compelling response was an e-mail from Alima Fairchild, a former Minnesotan who was encouraged by the first Earth Day celebration nearly 40 years ago to live a simpler life.
One of her solutions was to move to northern New Mexico, which she often visited, so she wouldn't have to make that long trip anymore. She's now in the Las Vegas area, living a simple life and working with others to revitalize sustainable agriculture. Alima says she wouldn't trade her present life for a condo at Angel Fire, an Escalade and a million bucks.
Charles Gandy, in a Santa Fe New Mexican opinion piece, pledges to walk and bike 10 percent more and drive 10 percent less in a smaller, slower car.
After study, Gandy has decided the governmental energy policies he will support and he will back those candidates who believe accordingly. Gandy suggests googling "National Energy Policy" and using Wikipedia for a good summary.
Americans currently are learning more about America's energy crisis courtesy of Texas energy tycoon T. Boone Pickens. He is spending $58 million on a multimedia campaign to sell his plan to use wind power for generating electricity and natural gas for powering cars.
Pickens says he's doing it for America. Anyone who has watched his hostile corporate takeovers through the years knows that Pickens isn't out to win any Mother Teresa awards. So it won't surprise you to know that he is heavily invested in both wind and natural gas.
But so what, if Pickens gets even richer? If he helps solve our energy troubles, let him have at it. He and partners are investing $12 billion to build the world's largest wind farm across the border near Pampa, Texas.
That's what I call a personal commitment.
MON, 7-28-08

JAY MILLER, 3 La Tusa, Santa Fe, NM 87505
(ph) 982-2723, (fax) 984-0982, (e-mail)



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