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News-Sentinel.com Your Town. Your Voice.
Opening Arguments

Go get it

Nothing like a little reality to make people start facing reality:

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) - Gov. Charlie Crist has dropped his long-standing support for the federal government's moratorium on offshore oil drilling and endorsed Sen. John McCain's proposal to let states decide.

The governor said he reversed his position because of rising fuel prices and states' rights. Crist is considered a possible running mate for McCain, the Republican presidential nominee.

Now, on to ANWR! We need oil. We have oil. We need to get our oil. How hard is that to grasp?


Wed, 06/18/2008 - 5:26pm

They aren't mutually exclusive, but it seems like we should get our habit under control before we go digging for more oil. Otherwise, it'll be kind of like the spendthrift that wins the lottery.

Leo Morris
Wed, 06/18/2008 - 8:18pm

A "habit" is something bad for us we can't do without -- cocaine, alcohol, nicotine. Oil is what makes modern civilization possible. If you want to give up that habit, ride your bike home from work, light the candles, get your stew ready in the fireplace (you tree-raper, you!) go to the icehouse for that last block to throw into the ice box, and write out your complaint and send it to me by the next traveling salesman who comes by on horseback.

Harl Delos
Wed, 06/18/2008 - 10:32pm

Habits aren't necessarily bad for us. A habit of making a full stop at stop signs, for instance, can save our lives. A habit of slowing down by taking your foot off the gas pedal long before you need to brake will conserve your brakes, your gas consumption, and the number of blood pressure pills you need.

And besides, without habits, nuns would get terribly chilly in wintertime.

I'm not sure ANWR is the right answer. It's heavy crude, it's hard to get at, and it's hard to get it where we need it. I think we're better off saving that for a rainier day.

But right now, we're using a lot of oil to generate electricity. That's not a good idea. Nukes make great sense for baseline electrical generation, and we should starting building a bunch of them, but nukes can't be ramped up and down quickly. For peak loads, either coal and natural gas make a lot of sense. In fact, they make a lot of sense in any stationary application.

Efficient coal-handling takes a lot of space and a lot of heavy machinery. It also needs fluidized beds in order to burn cleanly. You don't want to stick all that in a car, where it has to be accelerated and decelerated every time the light changes color. You don't even want to stick all that in a railroad train, where speeding up and slowing down is minimized.

I'd rather not have cars racing down the highway with high-pressure tanks of natural gas powering them, either. Propane and butane aren't too bad, because they liquify at modest pressure. Natural gas doesn't.

We need petroleum for vehicles, not hydrogen, not fuel cells, not hydrides, not pressurized gas. While batteries increasingly make sense for low-grade demands, such as commuting distances of 20 miles or less, they don't work if you need to pull a boat to Lake James or a U-Haul to Bloomington, nor would they work very well for cement trucks or steel haulers.

A significant portion - I'd say "most", but I don't know it's still that bad - of the natural gas this country produces is wasted - simply burned off. We'd make a significant dent in our energy imports if we made the relatively modest investments - yes, big, but *relatively* modest - needed to get it where it could be put to good use.

And the great thing is, little government action is required. Yes, we need to set up a system that makes it easier to win approvals for nuclear power stations, and approvals for gas pipelines, but market forces will do the heavy lifting of getting people to work towards alternative energy sources.