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Letters to the Editor

June 06, 2004

Price shock? Look in the mirror

To the editor:

All the world over, but especially in the United States, drivers seem to value power and performance above economy and efficiency. So, the auto industry does not offer many economical cars.

This year's Consumer Reports lists 15 "top rated" models. EPA mileage estimates are given for nine of these. Average mileage is 21.5 miles per gallon, and three of them call for premium gasoline.

Then, they list 63 "recommended" models. Mileage estimates are given on most of these. The average is 19.9 miles per gallon, and 16 models call for premium fuel.


My 1995 Buick Le Sabre gave me more than 26 miles per gallon.

We in the U.S. use about 20 million barrels of oil every day. If anyone is thinking about the future, that is about five times what we were using 50 years ago. About 13 million barrels a day goes to transportation. The other 7 million barrels a day could be reduced by using more nuclear energy, but the technology to convert aircraft, trains, trucks and automobiles away from petroleum is a long way off.

Even though the price of gasoline in the U.S. is low compared with most other countries, we search around looking for someone to blame, whenever the price goes up, as it is doing now.

1) The government? No. People in the agencies of the government regularly report the facts, and continually ask us common folks to drive smaller cars, and to use good sense in our driving habits. Government employees themselves, of course, act like all the rest of us, probably flying and driving around even more than the average citizen.

2) The oil companies? How would you like to run a refinery, buying crude at $40 a barrel, shipping it around in big tankers, distilling and blending fuels to a large number of specifications and delivering it to filling stations at about $1.25? It would be a lot easier to make ginger ale, which is costing me $4.90 per gallon in the one-liter bottles.

3) The Arabs? The world has them pumping out their reserves at a high rate, and putting oil wells all over their otherwise pristine environment, while we balk at a number of suitable extraction alternatives of our own. We can't even seem to find a place for another refinery.

4) The auto companies? To be competitive, automobiles and trucks must be mass produced in huge numbers and for a world market. Any company making cars that are significantly less in demand is headed for bankruptcy. We tend to forget how many automobile companies have gone belly up. Consumer Reports was judging 78 models. Survival is a problem.

5) Motor magazines? When in January this year, Motor Trend magazine chose the Toyota Prius as "car of the year," they really stuck their neck out. Based on some of the "letters to the editor" that they published, they must have received a lot that were too vitriolic to print. That's a car that can approach 60 miles per gallon, but it takes several seconds to go from 0 to 60 mph.

On talk radio, Bill O'Reilly suggests that both president Bush and candidate Kerry get on the air and explain why the price of gasoline has gone up. That's ridiculous. Faced with a citizen's question about what's wrong with anything, no politician in his right mind is going to tell the voter to look in the mirror.

Charles M. Webster


Can't you give animals a brake?

To the editor:

To all motorists: Please try to always remain alert and aware of the wildlife crossing your path. Not all accidents are avoidable, yet many are, if we stay focused on the roadway.

I drive many miles yearly and find the number of animals killed on the roadways incomprehensible. These animals are simply doing their best to forage and survive in a world that allows them little chance to. With the proper focus while driving, we can give these animals a chance.

On Friday May 29, while traveling on Halfway Boulevard near Halfway Park, I had the misfortune of seeing three infant groundhogs all injured by traffic. I was able to get two of these animals back into the woods, not knowing if they survived.

The third, a very young female of about two pounds, was huddled along the curb unable to climb back up to safety. I took her home and through a will to live, she did just that until 2 p.m. the following day.

This will easily ruin my next week or two as in many cases, not all, such things could be avoided if drivers were just a little more alert. Please give these animals a brake when you can.

Randy A. Breeden


Was the tornado wrath or warning?

To the editor:

Leitersburg-area residents will long remember Tuesday May 25, 2004, at 6:45 p.m. as the time their community was ravaged by an F1 tornado.

The twister the size of a football field ripped into and concentrated on the area of Herman Myers Road and Clopper Road, creating widespread destruction.

I arrived at my Clopper Road home after the storm had passed, driving past downed trees and power lines all along Leitersburg Pike. We had no electricity or water and we lost four trees. Those beautiful trees.

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