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Sunday, December 11, 2005

Oil Dependency

I was very happy to see gas prices dropping last week. At first I thought that would be great for our economy; people will be more likely to spend money when they don’t have to pay the additional price for gas. When I really take the time to think about it though, I realize if gas prices continue to drop and continue to feed our economies dependency on oil then the less likely it will be for our economy to seek out other sources for fuel and expand. Today there is already a huge constraint on the economy due to the nation’s dependency on oil and the government is taking action.

Katie Bodden wrote in New Fuel Standards on September 13 that the Bush administration has announced new fuel economy standards to try to reduce the nation’s dependency on oil. The proposal is estimated to increase the fuel economy. Katie asked, “…why stop there? Why not promote different cars that don’t run off gas? Why not fund them better? Why not raise the fuel economy standard higher still…?”

Dan Plesch from The Observer states that wind power, solar power and engines with advanced fuel cells running on water have additional advantages to providing strategic freedom of the oil crisis:

It (renewable resources) provides considerable employment. It is decentralized, making it invulnerable to terrorist attack in contrast to large-scale power stations. Unlike nuclear energy, renewables do not bring the risk of catastrophic toxic releases. Many people will be able to make money by selling back to the utility companies’ surplus energy produced by back-garden windmills and solar roofing tiles. Lastly, of course, the shift to renewables will greatly reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Aside from the questionable research done on the greenhouse effect and what may cause it, it is apparent that Katie was right to question what else should be done to decrease our oil dependency. Plesch brings up two additional substitutes for fuel and some major obstacles of the sources but the article sheds light on the various reasons to decrease the nation’s oil dependency and the possible alternatives the government should be considering with new fuel standards.

Yes, there are other things that "we" might want to see done. And, actually, each and every one of those things is being worked on by any number of people who hope to discover the new technology that will make them wealthy.

I suggest the important question with respect to government is not "what else might be done," but rather, why would we think that using government's force is likely to be a better idea than merely letting individuals decide themselves what efforts they want to make to discover the new technology.
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