Other Voices: New ideas for current gas crisis
In October 1973 we had an ‘Energy’ crisis. For those of us vintage enough to recall; we had to wait in line for gas. Prices rose to almost 65 cents a gallon. Odd and even license plate numbers dictated when you could buy gas in California. Those were the days!
In the ’30s auto and bus manufacturers along with gas and tire companies conspired to eliminate an outstanding transit system in the Bay Area. There was once a light gauge railroad that connected Nevada City and Grass Valley to Colfax and the main railroad in which you could travel east or west and to transfer routes to just about anywhere the railroad went. I was not around then, but have heard and read the history.
So now we are paying over $3.00 a gallon for gas with no end of the increasing prices till the end of summer. Same old story. We hear that a new refinery has not been built in California for decades. In fact, there have not been a lot of refineries built for years in this country. Is it because of environmental concerns or perhaps that the investment in a new refinery would not be profitable over the forecasted production life as the sources of petroleum run out? We pay more than $4.00 a gallon for carbonated sugar water and never a peep of discontent heard. But fool with gas prices and you’re going to hear about it.
We have those who select to commute in large inefficient vehicles, alone. Our visionary government gives tax breaks and incentives for entertainment industries that would stop in their tracks without oil, gas and rubber. All of this after 1973! How about a race series with hybrid or fuel cell vehicles. Heck, we could do bio-diesel now. Can you picture Bubba and Billy Joe Bob mixin’ up a batch of high powered bio-diesel for Sunday’s race, ya buddy. Dale would be proud. The smell of Budweiser and The Waffle House grease trap while cars go round and round advertising Viagra, soap and the Armed Forces. Brilliant.
Seriously, beside ever-increasing fuel costs, what would push technology along like a wide open alternative fuel race series. We could wait forever if we keep it in the hands of the oil companies, the modern day robber barons.
We have leadership that say there is not much they can do and then continue on with some visionary suggestions. Maybe a temporary elimination of the federal fuel tax which pays for highways. Have you driven 80 to Truckee lately? The roads could use some fixing. We could maybe relax the air standards, a novel idea, but living in one of the nation’s top 10 listed areas for poor air quality, is that a good suggestion? We do not hear the word conservation, we heard that is a “virtue not and energy policy.”
What is this administration’s energy policy? Bomb and circumstance? This is the oil administration. Now we know that W didn’t strike it rich in the oil biz, for that matter when was he successful at being an entrepreneur, (and for those of you who have not been listening that is French), but Ol’ Uncle Dick did and still is. The Secretary of State has a tanker named after her. What did go on in that secret energy planning meeting prior to and early on in this administration? Do you recall them clearly saying that the previous President had no energy plan. It seems that the present energy policy is working as well as some of their other well laid plans.
It is time, now more than ever, to seek true leadership with vision to plan for the future. Sure it will cost money, but $50.00 twice a week to fill-up with ethyl adds up, don’t ya know. What will those who come after us think of the way we handled things? That we had great vision or we were greedy and selfish. We all love the freedom that the automobile brings; the fun of travel, adventure and exploration. Can you see a future where there is wide spread mass transit, shared city, town and country clean, energy efficient vehicles, and we could have a totally wireless nation combined with transportation. Connected with interfacing transit networks not the patch work, noncompatible systems we have now.
Imagine sipping a hot beverage, eating a scone while you talk on your phone, work on your laptop and do the hair without running into the SUV in front of you. Moving at the speed that current technology would provide, say 150 miles a hour and not be trapped in a cocoon.
We could reduce gridlock, maybe clean up the air. Is it not time to think about the business of moving millions of people daily on a more societal level rather than the individual? There is an enormous amount of commerce in the future of transit.
Andrew Lawler lives in Nevada City.
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