Letters for Friday, June 20, 2008

• Changing our habits

• Escape the status quo

• Losing our dependence

• Nuclear energy potential

Changing our habits

Governor Linda Lingle’s recent address to the Kaua‘i Chamber of Commerce clearly reiterates the crux of our problem: Hawai‘i’s over-dependency on imported fuel. KIUC’s position as provider of our energy needs presents another aspect of the dilemma that is before us.

So, in the meantime, what can we do?

Will riding the bus extensively cut back our personal fuel bills? Perhaps.

Will growing our own fruits and vegetables convince our supermarkets and wholesale outlets to stop shipping in those perishibale products? Maybe.

Will we be encouraged to walk more, ride our bicycles, eat well, and watch less TV to become healthier? Could be.

Will we encourage less preoccupation with self-indulgent whims like cruising around aimlessly to burn gas for the hell of it? Hopefully.

The point of the matter is to move toward those paradigm shifts in the way we live and the choices we make. It’s one thing to be able to identify the problem. It’s another to have the wherewithal to change our habits.

Jose Bulatao Jr.


Escape the status quo

Congratulations to Gov. Linda Lingle for taking the energy issue head on. We do need to limit our reliance on oil, not just because it is a fossil fuel and because there is a limited supply, but also because it just costs too much. Big oil has us over a barrel as the price escalates beyond many people’s ability to pay. I would amend Lingle’s statement, “If you can’t get the oil, reliable becomes a meaningless word,” to begin “If you can’t pay for the oil, …”

KIUC seems to have its head in the sand on this one. As long as they can continue to tack on their energy adjustment, it doesn’t matter to them how much the price of oil goes up. Those of us on fixed incomes and many on regular incomes do not automatically get increases just because the price of oil goes up. It is time to fix the rate the way our incomes are fixed, allow more net metering (as suggested by Lingle) at this rate, and utilize the willingness of our residents to take on the expense of solar generation, windmills and other renewable sources of energy. The use of oil can be relegated to being a backup for emergencies thus securing reliability.

It is certainly easier to maintain the status quo than it is to begin an aggressive replacement of oil in the process of generating electricity. This is our challenge and our continued success as a county depends on our determination to accept it.

Marjorie Gifford


Losing our dependence

In a feeble attempt to blame the current oil mess on our current President let me say that the author’s “glove doesn’t fit” mentality is alive and well (“OPEC’s retaliation,” Letters, June 18).

The author should look in the mirror and not at OPEC. With OPEC, Russia, China and worldwide production of oil at near all-time highs and with Iraq providing more oil now than at any time under Saddam Hussein it’s disingenuous at best to pin our current problems on Iraq, the President, or the Republican party. China and India have doubled their thirst for oil in a very short period of time and their energy needs are exploding. In a free society, supply and demand dictates price, and though that is not the only “perfect storm” aspect of current oil pricing, it’s a major one. Oil speculation is not a major problem. Though there are individual speculators that would love to see the price of oil rise, they are not the major cause driving increased oil costs. On the contrary, without the ability for speculators to buy futures in any commodity, prices would have to be much higher. As an example, if airlines couldn’t “speculate” on future fuel prices, your airline tickets would be so high only business travelers could afford the costs to fly. You may be grounded under our current conditions.

We will soon be making a very important choice. Drill as much oil as we can in the United States, including offshore, or pay the consequences.

What are those consequences? Food prices doubling and many of our current food choices becoming unavailable, no airline travel for the masses because it will be too expensive, being unable to use your car for anything but transportation to work if you’re fortunate enough to still have a job, inflation exploding and eroding your current buying power, the biggest crime wave in our history, a further drop in the value of the dollar and many of us losing our jobs. And that is just the tip of the iceberg.

I know. I know. You hate to think of harming the environment and we need desperately to make oil dependence a thing of the past. You’re right. Along with our massive short term effort to recover as much of our own oil as possible we desperately need to put a Herculean effort into alternative energy research and break our dependence on those who now control us. But let’s do it with the least amount of pain possible for our families. We need to compromise and do it all.

Of course, for decades there have been some among us who have fought against our recovery of domestic oil, prevented us from extracting oil from shale (though we have the largest deposits in the world), and prevented our building of new refineries or nuclear power plants. While the technology doesn’t currently exist for an alternative source of power as a quick fix, the technology does exist for the safe and environment-friendly recovery of our own natural resources until alternative energy technology becomes viable for use by the masses. Unfortunately, the price and pain we’re all going to pay for our dependence on free floating world oil has been exacerbated by those of us who have participated in preventing business from doing what it does best. Provide our citizens with what they want at a price the majority can afford.

Gordon Oswald


Nuclear energy potential

Thanks to T.L. Cameron of California (“The nuclear option,” Letters, June 14) for opening a much needed discussion on nuclear energy as a possible answer to a portion of Hawai‘i’s challenging energy needs. Sky Roversi-Deal’s answer (“Nuclear power’s flaws,” Letters, June 18) covered most of the conventional wisdom and popular fears regarding the use of nuclear energy for domestic purposes. Sky is a very intelligent and thoughtful young man. I am sure that the majority of the people of Kaua‘i share his fear of nuclear energy and probably would rather not even have to talk about it.

Unfortunately, we have a huge energy problem in Hawai‘i. Governor Linda Lingle pretty much spelled it out in her talk to the Chamber of Commerce, reported in the same issue of the paper as Sky’s letter: “Ninety percent of Hawai‘i’s energy production comes from oil … 99 percent … from non-U.S. sources.”

We have to get off fossil fuels soon for a lot of reasons. Wind, hydro, solar and biomass may solve part of our problems, but each comes with a set of problems of its own. Nuclear power generation is an available technology that is having a renaissance around the world as “peak oil” and global warming become realities. For more information I suggest the Nuclear Energy Institute Web site: nei.com, and, for the big picture of how our energy and environmental problems are linked, “The Revenge of Gaia” by James Lovelock.

Mike Dyer



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