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Commentary: Energy Conservation, Self-Sufficiency Go Hand in Hand

We must secure our future by building infrastructure and balancing it with environmental protection.

The people of California, even more so than the rest of the nation, are feeling the pain of higher energy costs. With gasoline rapidly approaching $5 a gallon, many are finding it very difficult to afford to get to work while finding money to put food on the table for themselves and their families.

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Greg Gandrud
Prices are rising for everything we buy because energy is an ingredient of every product and service. Heating and cooling our homes, powering our computers and other appliances, and bringing food to market all require energy.

To make energy prices go down, we need to increase the supply of all types of energy. Where feasible, we must invest in more solar, wave, wind, hydroelectric, geothermal and biomass. We must consider every option, including drilling for oil and gas where technology allows extraction without harming the environment.

Along the coast of Santa Barbara and Ventura counties, the environment could be improved by extracting some of the oil and gas that would otherwise, through natural seepage, foul the air and beaches. Technology now exists to drill sideways up to seven miles, which means that much of the naturally seeping undersea oil and gas actually can be extracted using onshore rigs.

Assemblyman Pedro Nava said last week that drilling for oil would provide “negligible benefits” and that we would not “see an impact on prices at the pump for 20 years.” Obviously, this view is in sharp contrast with reality. (Click here to read Nava’s Noozhawk commentary.)

Within days of President Bush’s lifting of the executive order banning drilling in federal waters, the price of a barrel of oil plummeted $9. Congress also must lift the ban.

The Legislature has made it difficult to drill for oil and to build refineries to make gasoline. We must elect representatives who are able to balance environmental protection with the reality of how difficult it has become for people to live on an ordinary income. The sooner we begin to build the needed infrastructure, the sooner we will see lower prices.

We must reduce our energy costs while creating job opportunities and continuing to develop new technologies. As China and India continue to industrialize, we must secure our energy future. California easily has the means to be a net exporter of energy and to set an example to the rest of the nation, and the world as to how environmental protection and energy self-sufficiency and conservation go hand in hand.

To help have an effect on this and other important issues facing California, visit www.gandrud.org or call 805.566.0493.

Former Carpinteria City Councilman Gregory Gandrud is the Republican candidate for the 35th Assembly District. He serves as chairman of California’s Recreational Trails Committee.

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