Steamboat Springs I wish gasoline were still $4 a gallon. Before you question my sanity, take a breath and read on.
Like many Americans across the country, my family and I are concerned about the current economic crisis, which is unlike anything this country has faced since the Great Depression. We know President-elect Barack Obama's challenge will be much like President Roosevelt's New Deal in that he must restore confidence in the viability of our economy while engaged in two wars, addressing his platform of health care, education, global warming and energy independence.
For now, let's talk about energy independence. We import 70 percent of our oil from the Middle East. It's not just our gas-guzzling cars but so many of our consumables that are petroleum-based. We all recognize the dangers of our continued dependence on foreign oil. But we also must remember that energy independence in the form of renewables and responsible development of our own reserves will produce more jobs at a time when so many are being lost in the current economic turmoil.
Obama has stated that he wants this country to be energy independent in 10 years and has called on each of us to make sacrifices. What can each of us do to answer his call?
One way is that we can conserve the fuel we have. We each can make a small personal sacrifice. My car gets about 24 miles per gallon. Let's say I decide I can commit to saving a gallon of gas a week. That means every week, I need to find alternative transportation for 24 miles. How would this work? I can plan my shopping more carefully and skip two trips to the supermarket; that's 10 miles. I can walk or ride my bike to the post office each day; that's 12 miles. I could take the bus to work at least twice; that's another 10 miles. I'm over my gallon already!
If I do this 50 weeks a year (leaving a two-week cushion for "slipping up"), I'll save 50 gallons.
Doesn't sound like much, does it? If we only counted the approximately 2.5 million registered voters in Colorado, in one year, that would be 125 million gallons of gasoline saved. What if this personal commitment to conservation and sacrifice spread to other states? How many millions of gallons of gas could we conserve?
Another way to be more energy independent is to reduce our use of petroleum-based products.
Keep in mind that it can take as many as 500 years for plastic garbage bags and water bottles to decompose in landfills. Do we really have to buy all of that stuff that is shrink-wrapped? Conservation can start as small as being more aware of our usage of these products.
Of course, I don't really wish for $4-a-gallon gasoline. Four dollars, however, seemed to be the threshold of pain that made most us review our energy consumption habits. So, I ask you to take three actions:
1. Join me in writing to our legislators, requesting - no, demanding - that they put a comprehensive energy bill at the top of their priority list. This bill must include all aspects of our energy picture, from conservation to new technology and beyond. Their contact information is at the end of this commentary.
2. Based on the number of miles you drive in a week, work out a plan to save a gallon of gas a week.
3. Purchase eco-friendly garbage and trash bags. Start using tap water or filter your own. Urge manufacturers to be more eco-responsible in their packaging.
Will you commit to saving a gallon of gas a week? Will you reduce your use of other petroleum-based consumables? Will you make these small personal sacrifices?
- U. S. Sen. Ken Salazar at 866-455-9866, 202-224-5852 or www.salazar.senate.gov/
- Gov. Bill Ritter at 303-866-2471 or www.colorado.gov/governor
- U.S. Sen.-elect Mark Udall at 303-820-2008 or www.markudall.com
- U.S. Rep. John Salazar at 202-225-4761, 970-245-7107 or www.house.gov/salazar/
Lu Etta Loeber is a retired marketing and finance executive and currently serves as executive director of the Yampa Valley Autism Program.