Your solutions: Easing pain at the pump
(CNN) -- As gas prices soar higher, Washington has rolled out a number of proposals to ease the pain at the pump: a $100 rebate check, delaying deposits to the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, increased fuel efficiency, alternative fuel research and more.
CNN asked readers to e-mail their own ideas for addressing the problem. Here is a sampling of those responses, some of which have been edited. (Do you have a suggestion? Send it in.)
In the short term, the only thing we can do is jot down a note to ourselves: "for future reference, remember not to assume that a finite resource is unlimited". In the long term, massive funding for alternative energy research is the only thing that's going to get us out of this mess. Oil demand is growing, oil supply is tight, and it's getting tighter indefinitely, unless anyone happens to know of another planet where carbon-based life-forms died millions of years ago. Never mind price-gouging, OPEC, SUV's or the comparatively tiny deposits of oil in Alaska and the Gulf of Mexico; oil is harder (i.e., more expensive) to get out of the ground than it used to be, and it's going to get steadily harder to get it out, until it's gone.
As an oilfield worker I know what is involved in providing consumers with gasoline, and it blows my mind to see people willing to pay two bucks for a gallon of water, but that complain about spending $3 on a gallon of gasoline. This is a product extracted from miles underneath the Earth's surface, along with sand and water that come in proportions much larger than that of actual oil. Not to mention all the refining processes that commence once the oil is out of the ground. If people actually thought about what is involved in providing them with their gas, maybe they would realize $3 a gallon is a great deal.
Immediately, move everyone to Venezuela -- 14 cents a gallon! Long term, use a combination of alternative sources of energy. Imagine a hybrid hydrogen car, with solar panels to help recharge the batteries.
Let me just preface by saying that [Arctic National Wildlife Refuge] drilling is the most ridiculous solution to the problem; no surprise that it's proposed by the Republicans. Aside from environmental concerns, ANWR is still not a viable option because the drilling wouldn't provide significant oil for at least 10 years. The Democrats (New Jersey Sen. Robert Menendez in particular) have proposed much better solutions, such as a 60-day tax-free period on gas. But if we really want to stop dancing around the whole issue and actually solve problems, we need to research and develop alternative energy sources. The "third world" country of Brazil has put us to shame, being the first country to become independent from foreign oil. My suggestion: Follow its example; go to ethanol!
Telecommute would be my take. In North America in general, lots of people drive to the office to sit in front of a computer to do their work during the entire working day. Taking into account that North America is very well-wired, I see no problem if a percentage of employees of any given company would be allowed to work from their home computers. Governments should encourage this and give heavy tax breaks to companies supporting and developing technologies to work in distributed environments. I have found that when I work from home I am more productive, healthier, and I am happier.
Nationalize all petroleum companies in the United States. Direct profits toward national primary education, health care, research and development of alternative fuels and stem cell technology.
First of all, the rebate check is a worthless idea. It will buy me almost two tanks of gas and last me less than 2 weeks of driving to work and nowhere else. Then for the rest of my life I continue to pay high gas prices. Keep the 100 dollars. The only sensible thing to do is turn to alternative fuels. Hydrogen fuel cells, electric cars, hybrid cars, ethanol, even solar-powered cars. The great part of these alternative fuels is the fact that they already exist.
How about tax breaks for carmakers who produce fuel-efficient and/or alternative-fuel cars, and for the consumers who purchase and register them? How about grants and/or tax breaks for research programs related to alternative energy sources? How about cutting back on government gasoline taxes (and other market-interfering policies) whose significant bite (50-plus cents a gallon) disrupts the natural supply-and-demand balance to drive up gas prices more than the amount of the taxes themselves?
Immediate: Decrease the percentage of federal, state and local taxes that are paid for each gallon at the pump. Long term: Offer government incentives for the development and use of alternative forms of fuel. You would think that we would have learned our lessons in the '70s when we went through shortages -- we continued to blindly believe that there was an inexhaustible supply of crude that we could tap into for our use. What will it take for this country to realize that there is an end to the supply, and as other countries challenge us for that supply the price is only going to go up?
We should put all of our resources into making a synthetic oil product. Also I would be willing to pay a few hundred dollars to convert the three vehicles and two tractors we use to run on ethanol mix made from corn or soybeans.
Any immediate relief from gas prices will have to be the choice of the consumer to drive less, carpool, or use public transit. The best long-term solutions will be to increase and improve public transportation, subsidize fuel-efficient vehicles and alternative fuel research, and use tax penalties to discourage inefficient vehicles.
My thoughts are we should, first, lower speed limits on all roads, other than interstate, to a maximum 55 MPH. Interstate roads should be lowered to a maximum 65 MPH. Strictly enforce speed limits across the board. Reduce our dependence on foreign oil by opening up domestic sources to drilling. Sharply increase fuel economy requirements of automakers and put a ceiling on the ridiculous horsepower craze that has gripped the automotive industry. It doesn't take 250 HP-plus to move a car 60 MPH.
A $100 rebate check? Delaying deposits to the reserve? These are gimmicks and shortsighted solutions. It seems that our country has the patience of a 4-year-old child. We want immediate solutions for complicated problems. The real problem is the fact that the oil supply is not increasing, but consumption is growing. As more and more countries develop industry, they demand the same oil from the same places as Americans. The fact of the matter is, the nations of the world need to develop a readily available, renewable, and environmentally sound alternative to oil. Ethanol makes the most sense. Its ingredients are abundant and renewable. Why hasn't the government directed as much attention to developing ethanol refineries and distribution centers as they do with wasted measures such as these rebate checks?
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