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July 18, 2008

The Suicide of Earthworms

John W. Ashbury

          Is there a reason that earthworms have taken to committing suicide by crawling out of the ground and crossing sidewalks all over Frederick County, only to die from the heat before getting to the other side? Why the chicken crossed the road poses a similar explanation.


            And that brings up the question of just which one of the major party candidates will win in November. The way they are conducting themselves makes one wonder – out loud – if either of them really wants the job as the most powerful political figure in the world.


            And Congress isn’t helping either. A Gallup poll out this week has only 14 percent the American people approving of Congress. Is that any wonder considering the way important legislation is apparently on the back burner? President George W. Bush is holding steady with a 30-31 percent approval.


            The big question facing all Americans is the cost of oil, particularly with the forecast for extremely high prices for natural gas and heating fuel in the coming winter. People living in the northeast United States are particularly fearful with suppliers estimating $4.50 a gallon fuel oil this winter.


            Back some 10 years or so, President William J. Clinton vetoed a bill passed by Congress that would have allowed some drilling for oil in presently prohibited areas. Had he signed the measure the oil crisis we now face would be mitigated somewhat.


            Congressional leaders – meaning Harry Reid (D., NV) and Nancy Pelosi (D., CA) – are saying at every turn of a camera switch that even if we allow drilling now, we won’t see any benefit for another 10 years. Drillers say that production could generate results in as little as one year, and at the most, six years from right now.


            No matter on which side of the issue you land, we must do everything we can to answer our own energy needs. We must tap into the vast deposits – whether oil, gas, or coal – already available right here in the good ole U.S. of A.


            Estimates are that in the western states of Nevada, Colorado, Utah and Wyoming, there is eight times as much oil as Saudi Arabia has in reserve. It’s in shale.


            We already import most of our foreign oil from Canada. And where do you think it comes from? It, too, is in shale to a large extent.


            And what about the use of coal? Congress passed legislation years ago requiring eastern states to burn western coal in its electricity generation plants. It was due to the high carbon content of the vast reserves of coal in states such as West Virginia and Kentucky. Thus, companies like Allegheny Power, have to pay to ship the western coal to its generating plants.


            But now technology has advanced to the point that scrubbers in plant smokestacks remove far more carbon emission before they exit the top of the stack.


            And who can forget that President Clinton placed vast coal deposits into a national park out west, so it can’t be tapped to meet our growing needs for energy.


            The United States uses approximately 25 percent of the world’s energy. Yet we produce only a fraction of that. We must examine all means to meet our needs. We can’t continue to think that other countries will forever provide us with what we require.


            Conservation, recycling, exploration for unfound sources, wind usage, nuclear power generation, and, yes, waste-to-energy plants must be allowed wherever they are feasible.


            With the technology that is available, all these possibilities can become reality. We just have to agree to do something. But Senate Majority Leader Reid and House Speaker Pelosi are blocking legitimate legislation from even coming to the floor of their chambers for debate.


            Could it be that the Democrats are pulling defeat from the jaws of victory in November? Pundits across the spectrum have said for months that more Democrats would be elected to Congress in the fall, even, perhaps, creating a veto proof majority should Sen. John McCain pull victory from the jaws of defeat.


            Polls, which are given little credence in this corner, indicate that the gap between the two presumed nominees is so narrow now that it is within the margin of error. Democrat Sen. Barack Obama, of Illinois, can’t be happy about that.


            It has been said here many times that the candidate who promises to take the least amount of additional money from my pocket, will get my vote. Neither one of them is talking about cutting federal spending, although Arizonian McCain has said he will veto bills containing “earmarks” should they reach his Oval Office desk. That’s a start. But Senator McCain is also preaching the moderate mantra and raises the specter of alienating conservatives.


It will be a happy day when voters have the opportunity to vote “for” a candidate rather than against the other. We’ve heard that old saw about voting for the lesser of two evils. But we must also remember that in that case we are still getting “evil.”


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