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Let's roll up our sleeves and solve our energy woes

June 01, 2008|By CHIP ZIMMER

Whatever happened to that good old American attitude? Remember, "Can Do," "The Land of Opportunity," "The American Dream" and "Yankee Ingenuity"? I think political correctness has forced us to put aside the characteristics that made America great. We can no longer brag about the greatness of this nation, nor celebrate our successes. We can't even just use English anymore (have you noticed the bi-lingual signs in Lowe's lately?).

Isn't it about time that we Americans put aside our petty differences and name calling and go "back to the future," pull together to make America the "land of the free and the home of the brave" again? Let's have a strong dose of that optimism that President Reagan cheered, not the malaise of his predecessor that we seem to be repeating. Granted, our choices for the newest "Leader of the Free World" are, frankly, slim pickings, but despite this lack of leadership, we need to come together to figure out a sensible way to end our dependence on foreign oil.

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Rather than pointing fingers at the perceived culprits of $4-a-gallon gas, let's unleash our inherent Yankee ingenuity and fix it!

I've been a conservationist my entire life. I love the outdoors and the wildlife as much as, if not more than, anyone. I also love our American way of life: our cars, our conveniences and, yes, even our indulgences. But isn't there a way that we can possibly satisfy a balance between making America independent of foreign oil and reasonably protect our wild lands?

Here's one guy's politically incorrect solution to our current crisis.

1. Remove the shackles that the government has imposed upon our oil companies. Let them do what they do - find and deliver oil! We have the sophistication. We have the technology. Despite the huge numbers the media has thrown around, their profits are only 8 percent. What other industry works on that small a margin? Don't begrudge the salaries either. The CEO of Exxon-Mobile makes about what Brad Pitt makes for one movie or what A-Rod makes playing for the Yankees each year. What we need to do is to elevate our presidency to that level of income, to attract the best and the brightest, not artificially put a cap on business!

2. Reduce the government taxes on oil. Nationally, about 13 percent of the cost at the pump is for federal and state taxes. The feds get 18.4 cents per gallon and the State of Maryland adds on another 23.5 cents per gallon. Combined, this results in a total of 41.9 cents per gallon in taxes! Why couldn't this be reduced just a little? After all, what has the State of Maryland or the federal government done to help get the oil to our pumps?

3. Open up ANWR to oil exploration. Some would have us believe that this would be the end of civilization as we know it. In truth, the area of Alaskan National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) where drilling would be conducted is tiny (only 2,000 acres of the 19 million acres in ANWR would be explored)! Couple this with the sophisticated technology that we have today and any harm to the polar bears, caribou or people would be virtually nonexistent. It is estimated that 1 million barrels of oil a day would be generated (we currently use about 21 million barrels a day).

4. Allow offshore drilling. Cuba is drilling off our shores in the Gulf of Mexico. So is China. So is Mexico. Don't you honestly believe that the U.S. would do a better, cleaner job of drilling than any of these? Again, the technology that we have today would leave so small a "footprint" that it's criminal not to look here for oil. Australia does more offshore drilling than nearly any other nation and its beaches are recognized across the world for being the most beautiful anywhere.

5. Build refineries. No oil refinery has been built in America in 30 years! Hello? Isn't it time we wake up?

6. Go nuclear. The Three Mile Island leak was 30 years ago. Again, technology and sophistication have made dramatic improvements. It's the cleanest, safest form of energy. France is 80 percent nuclear. Italy is about to switch to it. Since when did we allow either of them to advance ahead of the U.S.? Let's not stop there; free up our free enterprise system to encourage serious and economically viable solutions for the clean use of coal, natural gas, wind, solar and other forms of high tech energy generation.

I'm not an oil man nor an economist, I'm just a small businessman who's tired of divisiveness in America, tired of hyphenated Americans and tired of kowtowing to anti-American interests telling us what to do and how much gas we can use. It just seems to me that if we are to climb out of this mess, we need to use some good, old-fashioned common sense. Forget Democrats or Republicans. Let's rationally and logically come together, using basic economics, geology and environmental science to figure out what's best for America. We've rallied together before. Let's do it again, now, and not allow the politicians to continue to muck it up!

Chip Zimmer is the owner of The Zimmer Marketing Group in Hagerstown.

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