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The Leavenworth Times - Leavenworth, KS
  • Letter to the editor: Responding to Congresswoman Jenkins on American energy

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  • To the editor:
    In her latest opinion piece, Congresswoman Lynn Jenkins recommends a tax credit to help parents with the cost of raising children.
    The idea is intriguing. I hope she will describe the legislation in more detail so we can judge how much it would help parents at various levels of income.
    Less promising is part two of her article, “Unleashing the benefits of American energy,” which advocates, once again, measures to help the oil and gas industry mine American fossil fuels and export however much they find profitable to foreign consumers.
    Such measures will not reduce but increase the cost of energy for Americans. Those costs will include higher prices at the pump and higher prices for environmental cleanups along American pipelines, railroads, highways, watersheds, aquifers, and coastal fisheries. Finally, such measures will invest little if anything to help Americans with the increasing costs of global warming.
    It’s a classic example of ideas that profit some in the short run while burdening many more over a much longer time.
    The cost of energy is indeed rising, and has been for longer than Congresswoman Jenkins has mentioned. In 2009, U.S. gasoline dropped to $1.67 because the economy had collapsed and great masses of people were driving fewer miles.
    In 2008, just before the collapse, the average price had reached $4.17. Even with no regulation, today’s extraction methods are necessarily more expensive.
    We expend more energy to drill at greater depths for smaller pockets of oil and gas scattered among greater numbers of sites. We pollute water with solvents so we can ram it into porous rock and liberate its “treasure,” or we boil it out of tar sands. As we mine energy in ways that consume so much energy and water, prices necessarily rise, and so do costs of environmental damage.
    Kansans, in particular, should be concerned about water left polluted in oil wells or holding ponds while we run out of fresh water for farms, ranches, and communities. In some parts of the world, water is more expensive than fossil fuel. When we begin to talk about an aqueduct from the Missouri River to western Kansas, we need to get serious about energy and water conservation.
    Food prices, too, rise with the cost of fossil fuel. It enables at least 90 percent of our food production, food preservation, and food delivery.
    We can expect a continuing rise in food prices until we transition to more sustainable practices. In other parts of our economy, there are similar energy costs: for transportation, manufacturing, lighting, heating, air conditioning, communication, national defense, etc.
    Instead of “unleashing” fossil fuels for the short-term benefit of some, we should invest more of it to safeguard the future of all.
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    Chris Jensen
    Leavenworth

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