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Let's step off the oil treadmill

December 31, 2007

Re "Are you ready to pay $4 a gallon?" Dec. 27

Moving from crude oil to something greener makes a lot of sense. It will help inoculate California (and the United States) against unpredictable events around the world and economic chaos at home. Honestly, I can't think of anything more patriotic. I only wish President Bush's potential successors thought so. Though they all mention energy independence from time to time, none of them have made it a major campaign cornerstone.

The economic impact of $4-a-gallon gas will be quick and devastating. Coupled with the existing meltdown in the Southern California housing market, it will drive the economy into full retreat. (Dare I say recession?) It's no wonder none of the presidential candidates wants to bring up the topic.

Back in August 2005, after several U.S. refineries had been shut down and King Fahd of Saudi Arabia had died, the price of crude shot up to $62 a barrel. Today, it is more than 50% higher. Two years ago people were asking, "Is this any way to run an oil business?" Now, I'm wondering, "Is this any way to run a country?"

Denny Freidenrich

Laguna Beach

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We've already been paying close to $4 a gallon for gasoline. It might be more appropriate to ask, "Are you ready to pay $5 to $8 for gas?" Remember when we worried about prices going over $50 a barrel for crude oil? With prices now approaching $100, there is no reason why gasoline won't be more expensive in the near future. Petroleum supplier nations can already hurt us just by reducing oil supplies, like they did during the 1970s oil crisis. All we need are more political crises and wars.

We'll eventually have to produce American-made fuels like ethanol and biodiesel on an industrial scale. It's doubtful that coal or gas will adequately supply all our vehicles. Wind and solar power aren't going to propel vehicles to freeway speeds. Hydrogen isn't a practical replacement either -- it still takes electricity (from combustion of hydrocarbon fuels) to produce hydrogen from electrolysis. Then there will be problems with safety and environmental impacts of hydrogen fuel (tons of water vapor and increased humidity instead of tons of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere).

Tom Novinson

Ventura

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