Democratic Underground

Bush's Misdirected Energy
March 28, 2001
By Maren L. Hickton

Bush's Misdirected Energy

It is a certainty that as economies and populations grow proportionately, so does the use of energy. But the fact is we would have been in an energy crisis since the beginning of time if primates had the ability to do the required calculations to live like we do.

This country has gone from lit campfires to gaslights to the Edison light bulb to nuclear power through the efforts of great men and women who took the time to think beyond the obvious and seek to find new sources and ways to use energy.

It's too easy to decide that we will just drill away to find oil or strip mine for coal and fossil fuels at the expense of our environment, in both the short and long-term. Having had the opportunity to live in a city which has been stripped of many resources, I have seen the consequences of mine subsidence. In the former smoky city of steel, you'd have to hold your breath to drive past the blast furnaces or hold your breath in fear that you didn't take out a tire darting around potholes, risking collision.

W. C. Fields once said, "I wanna see Pittsburgh before I die." I don't know if he ever made it here, but if he did back then, he wouldn't have seen much beyond the pollution. Since the closure of the steel mills, we have turned the gray skies blue at tremendous expense and still have a way to go with our polluted waterways.

Ask Bruce Willis, who had to swim in the rivers here while making a movie. Governor Ridge touted Pennsylvania recently as a model state for deregulation. He obviously didn't get our recent utility bills, but I am not really complaining. Yet.

My gas bill alone was $790.00 for one month's service for a two and a half-story house. This was one of the coldest winters in many years which to me, at least, seemed the reason for the bill -- which amounted to three times what I would have paid in the same month in previous years. So I bought a few rolls of plastic for about $25.00, gathered up a stack of newspapers and got some tape, and spent one day to winterize a house where my student-tenants for the past many years would typically lounge around in boxer shorts and T-shirts.

We all took the old and dusty storm windows out of the basement and put them in, covered the inside of the windows with the plastic and used gooey rolls of modeling clay to block small drafts. The next bill was cut in more than half.

Myself and most of the population don't want the Bush administration to wreck pristine federal lands with drilling whether new mining technology is only now the size of a baseball field or not. I don't want my land, my neighbors land, to be stripped of natural resources to the point where buildings sink or the only land where the earth is green is bought-up to be used for power or refinery plants, however the facades are cloaked.

The last thing I want is choking skies just because we are a bunch of dumb clucks who don't understand how to conserve or regenerate energy. The best part is no one is even talking about the cleanup costs related to further energy exploration and waste, which are phenomenal.

Just for starters, ask Governor Ridge about Penn DOT's road repair budget. Under Governor Ridge's stewardship, Penn DOT has become one of the leading public works organizations, but the Governor's administration continues to be faced with financial and other hurdles, due to overcoming tremendous and unparalleled damage not just from the weather, but from the mining industries.

It is important that we use the energy of our own brains, cultivate a new group of pioneers, educate a new generation of consumers and pay for the error of our ways until we find new technologies -- which just might inspire us all not to be so wasteful.


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