Energy conservation an ‘appropriate patriotic act’

StoryImage( ‘/Images/Story//img-1b3E2bZHZz.jpg’, ‘Photo by Sonia Vogl’, ‘New mid-size Prius from Ken Nelson in Dixon is admired by visitors to the first Illinois Renewable Energy Fair Aug. 9-10, 2002, at the Ogle County Fairgrounds. The Prius with Hybrid Synergy Drive® is the gas/electric hybrid vehicle that offers all the power of a conventional car, an unheard-of 55 estimated combined mpg, and you never need to plug-in for recharging—which makes the Prius a solution with no cords attached.’);

Internationally known energy advocate to speak at Aug. 7-8 Illinois Renewable Energy Fair

Charles Komanoff will be a keynote speaker at the third annual Renewable Energy Fair Aug. 7-8. An internationally known advocate for energy conservation and efficiency, Komanoff brings a sense of urgency for ending the oil age. He lives four blocks from the former site of the Twin Towers and asserts that Middle East oil put America in the line of fire on Sept. 11 and continues to keep us there and at risk.

He clearly points out how saving oil would lessen our imports from Saudi Arabia and the entire Persian Gulf. Yet, today we are increasingly dependent on Middle East oil supplies. President Jimmy Carter acknowledged that Middle East oil is vital to U.S. interests. Former auto executive Lee Iacocca acknowledges we are probably at war over oil, but deep down we do not want to talk about it. He suggests the U.S. oil, car and truck industry must support building hybrid vehicles or be lost in the dust of Honda and Toyota.

Komanoff believes Americans are ready to break their deadly addiction to oil by employing energy-efficient technologies and changing their daily behavior to use less energy. His goal is to inspire public support for energy conservation.

Having lived through the oil rationing of World War II and the interruptions in oil supplies during the 1970s, we recognize that energy conservation efforts are sorrily lacking, considering the gravity of the energy situation. Persistent air pollution, months of waiting for hybrid vehicles, concerns about global climate change, tight oil and gas supplies, and the rising cost of the Iraqi war in terms of lives lost and dollars spent cry out for citizen action to save energy. We believe energy conservation is an appropriate patriotic act.

Komanoff makes a forceful case for energy conservation as the quickest way to curb our oil appetite today. He feels the patriotic impulse of Americans can initiate a 5 to 10 percent cut in oil consumption. He also argues that over the long run, higher oil prices are essential to cut our oil appetite. There is some evidence that the public is responding to the increase in gas prices by decreased demand for inefficient SUVs and increased demand for hybrids. While Komanoff called for a tax increase, he acknowledged it is political suicide.

His call for a gradual increase in fuel taxes was premised on the assumption that falling oil prices in the future would intensify consumption, keep us hooked on imported oil and delay the inevitable transition to a more sustainable energy system. To lessen resistance to the tax, funds would be rebated back to individuals.

John Anderson, a former presidential hopeful from Rockford, had made a similar plea in his campaign. The first President Bush called for a similar tax early in his administration but quickly backed off. So far, such a tax remains below the political radar in this election.

However, advocates of efficiency, renewable energy and renewable fuels have long bemoaned the fact that fossil fuel subsidies have limited the market penetration of renewable energy sources. With the current energy turmoil, it seems appropriate to refocus attention on the impact tax policies have on energy consumption.

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