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New energy bill provides little relief for drivers

It’s been 19 days since President Bush signed the energy bill into a law that provides $14.5 billion in tax breaks to corporations. Since then, gasoline prices have climbed an average of 15 cents per gallon in the state.

So like the president and lawmakers have said, this legislation is not going to provide immediate relief for their constituents, and this becomes more apparent every day. In fact, gasoline now costs more than $3 a gallon in the Tahoe area, which is probably an indication of what we can expect to see here soon.

The failure of our lawmakers to develop a coherent and responsible energy policy dates back to the 1970s, when the OPEC embargo led to long lines at gas stations across the nation.

Since that time, our lawmakers, many of whom receive generous campaign contributions from oil companies, have stayed the course with a one-dimensional energy policy that relies almost entirely on fossil fuels.

That policy has left us dependent on the Middle East and other countries to meet our growing appetite for oil.

So since it’s clear that the politicians are taking, at the very best, a long-term approach to reducing our energy dependence, it’s apparent that we need to do something to help ourselves.

Unfortunately, the energy bill doesn’t really provide incentives for conservation. In fact, that topic barely reaches the whisper level in the nation’s capitol where the solution to the energy woes seems to be aimed at the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge or off the coast of California.

Now, oil companies have the ears of the politicians. As oil prices continue to rise, there’s billions more to be earned by them if we don’t change our habits. And that’s where our power lies.

We need to drive less, walk more, demand vehicles that get better gas mileage and insist that alternative energies be developed and quickly. In the meantime, if you continue driving large, gas-guzzling vehicles, you are endorsing an energy policy that leaves this nation vulnerable to circumstances that are beyond our control and could propel gasoline prices to crippling levels.