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Bartlett's timely message on nation's energy woes

September 02, 2005

Now that prices at the pump have hit $3 a gallon, many people are beginning to take seriously Rep. Roscoe Bartlett's argument about the need to develop alternatives to oil for some of the nation's energy needs.

The 6th District Republican was in Hagerstown Wednesday to talk about a variety of subjects, including stem-cell research, but the oil situation made his comments on that topic most timely.

Rep. Bartlett has been arguing for some time that, for the nation and the world, oil production has peaked. Couple that with rising demand in countries such as China, Bartlett said, and price increases are inevitable.

But the Congressman said there are things citizens can do to cope, such as buying a gas-electric hybrid auto, as he did in 2000. With 93,000 miles on it now, Bartlett said it still averages 45 mpg.

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For the nation as a whole, there are temporary alternatives, such as the development of so-called tar sands, oil shale and a renewed reliance on coal and nuclear power.

And, Bartlett said, there are also renewable resources such as wind power, biodiesel and ethanol.

To develop all these alternatives will take time, Bartlett said, which will necessitate conservation in the meantime.

Bartlett said that conservation need not be forced, if the public is educated on the necessity of doing it. He noted that in California, the average citizen voluntarily uses only 60 percent of the energy used by average Americans elsewhere.

Could Bartlett be wrong? Surprisingly, he said he hopes he is and that everything will work out without the need to do anything drastic.

To get more information, Bartlett will hold a "Maryland 6th District Energy Conference" on Monday, Sept. 26, at Frederick Community College.

The event will run from 9 a.m. until noon and will include presentations from experts on the nation's supply of oil and from others who will speak on sustainable energy alternatives.

As much as we might wish that things will not change, the combination of a natural disaster and a growing worldwide demand has forced change upon us.

As Bartlett said, Americans are clever, creative and can solve these problems, provided they have good leadership. It's time for other voices to join his.

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