Our own waste is the root cause of rising oil prices...


March 28, 2000

Our own waste is the root cause of rising oil prices

Karen Hosler managed to fill around 28 column inches with a discussion of the options available to rein in oil prices, without mentioning the most efficient approach to the problem of petroleum dependence in this country ("Congress, Clinton debate options to rein in gas prices," March 17).

I understand that she was focusing on the "crisis" presented by increased oil prices at the pump -- which are still well below the prices most of the world's consumers have been paying for years.

Still, I would like to see some attention devoted to the real problem -- which is that we in this country use too much oil -- and to long-term solutions such as alternative energy sources and conservation.

The easiest and most efficient way to reduce our oil consumption is to raise the Corporate Average Fleet Economy (CAFE) standards for vehicles sold.

A 40-percent increase in the average miles per gallon requirement for new cars, which is well within the capability of automakers, would, after a few years, save more oil each year than we import. The cost would be minimal.

Republicans in Congress have been blocking this for years. Yet they are the ones screaming the loudest that President Clinton hasn't done anything to keep gas prices down.

Aren't these same Republicans some of the most vocal proponents of the free market economy? Why can't they see there's a connection between demand and price?

Why must they always do what's politically expedient or resort to partisan back-biting?

J. Wayne Ruddock


Here we are, 25 years since the oil crisis made us realize the dangers of being oil gluttons -- the risk that posed to national security and our responsibility to future generations, who will need this non-renewable resource.

For a short time we drove fuel-efficient cars (you know, the kind that can fit in the back of an SUV). We lowered the speed limit to save fuel. We even spoke of conservation, public transportation and alternate energy sources.

A few years ago we had a brief war to keep the oil flowing and our chests swelled with patriotic zeal at our military might, but we never considered the possibility of more frequent and more deadly wars to satisfy our oil addiction.

Now, 25 years later, we're still caught with our heads in the sand -- under the illusion that the forces of supply and demand don't apply to us and that there would be unlimited oil if not for greedy enemies such as the Arabs and Big Oil -- and with our only priority being to get oil prices back down so we can continue our ever-increasing consumption.

We have met the enemy and he is us.

James Saldutti


Cartoon trivialized hardships of costly gas

While I usually very much enjoy KAL's cartoons, whether I agree with his point of view or not, I think he seriously missed the mark with his March 18 editorial cartoon regarding fuel prices.

A gallon of milk lasts my household four or five days, a gallon of orange juice lasts me 10 days. We don't use beer or spring water, but I do occasionally have a single malt scotch which would cost hundreds of dollars a gallon, but the gallon would last me five years or more.

In a pinch I could do without everything but the milk and orange juice and I could seriously cut back on both.

Gasoline, which I can't do without because of the lack of transportation alternatives costs me (today) $1.56 for a gallon, which lasts me 20 to 30 minutes.

The oil price increase is more than an inconvenience and it affects the prices of all commodities.

Peter D. Albertsen


KAL's cartoon comparing the cost of a gallon of gasoline to that of other liquids was misleading.

The average individual does not consume gallons of milk, orange juice, beer, spring water or maple syrup a day, but many do use at least one gallon of gasoline a day providing the necessities of life for themselves and their family.

Even if a family drinks 10 gallons of milk a month at $2.39 a gallon, it would only cost them $23.90 a month.

If a family consumes one gallon of gasoline a day, at $1.65 a gallon, going to work, shopping and running necessary errands, it will cost them $51.15 a month.

Our country's continued prosperity depends on relatively inexpensive energy costs. Any radical change means a serious change for the worse for everyone.

Instead of putting a rosy spin on a crisis that is not going to go away with illogical arguments or deceptive cartoons, this country should start facing the truth about our dependency on foreign oil.

Joan Butler

Owings Mills

Pacifist's criticism of pope was unfair

I am a Roman Catholic who takes exception to Colman McCarthy's article on the pope's recent apology for the Catholic Church's errors ("Papal plea notable for vagueness," March 19)

Mr. McCarthy nonsensically chose to focus on the pope's "refusal to cooperate in any way with military violence."

He proceeded to condemn the United States for any military involvement, even confronting obvious despots like those who rule Iraq and Yugoslavia.

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