Conservationists With Common Sense (CWCS)

CWCS Position on Gas Prices

Conservationists with Common Sense (CWCS) an organization of 4000 members from all across the nation has a mission statement – to preserve access to and multiple use of our public lands and waters, especially the Boundary Waters of northern Minnesota. As with so many communities that depend on tourism, high gas prices affect travel plans to visit our national treasures – National Parks and Wilderness Areas.

CWCS’s purpose, in addition to the above, is to see that our communities remain healthy with good paying jobs, good schools and hospitals, and good infrastructure while balancing those goals with good, sound science to protect our environment.

Even though gas prices are coming down, our economy is being crippled. Transportation costs are up, affecting our economy by increasing food and feed costs, as well as costs of durable goods, and significantly raising the cost of living.

Had the U.S. come up with an energy plan after the energy crisis of the 1970s, or had President Clinton not vetoed drilling in ANWR in the 1990s, maybe we wouldn’t have such high gas prices today.

The United States has to admit that we will always be dependent on oil. Even with alternative fuels, the need for gasoline is not going to go away. What we can change is the United States’ dependency on foreign oil, and depleting our National Oil Reserves is not the answer. That would only make the United States more vulnerable if tensions rise in Iran, the Persian Gulf region or in Russia.

Many say ‘think globally and act locally’. This should be true for tapping our own oil reserves, which are abundant – in ANWR, where the Prudhoe Bay pipeline is only 75 miles away; offshore drilling in coastal waters; in the natural gas & oil shale of North Dakota, Colorado, Montana; etc. We have to acknowledge that the U.S. needs to be drilling for more oil and be less dependent on foreign oil. It is not right to import foreign oil, depleting their resources, while we save ours. More times than not, foreign oil is drilled in not so environmentally friendly ways. The United States has the strictest environmental and pollution controls which enables us to drill with less impact.The same holds true for the various mining projects for northern Minnesota with far cleaner, safer technology than what was proposed in the 1970s.

Our government subsidizes ethanol production and other endeavors which have no impact on decreasing our fuel usage and instead have a big impact on the footprint left on our soil. More and more grasslands are being plowed up to be planted with corn (which is subject to drought and floods) for a fuel alternative that is very costly with little benefit. In addition, ethanol production is using our valuable water resources and the end product is far less efficient than gasoline. This has contributed significantly to higher food and transportation costs, affecting our entire economy.

Ron Tolliver, a retired truck driver from Indiana, has submitted to various Senators and Congressmen a proposal that will make a huge impact on the amount of oil we import, but to no avail. CWCS has also forwarded his proposal to numerous Senators and Congressman. His "Proposal to Reduce the Use of Diesel Fuel in the Trucking Industry" would conservatively save over 6 billion gallons of diesel fuel a year by implementing the use of APUs (Auxiliary Power Units or GenPacs) on trucks.

He has proposed mandating the installation and use of the APUs on all trucks across our nation. He suggests a tax credit of $3,000 to $5,000 towards the $7,000 to $10,000 cost of these APUs. The tax credit would be applied when the APU is installed.

Mandating installation of APUs would make an IMMEDIATE and huge impact on our consumption of diesel fuel. Long term benefits will also be realized in redirecting the use of the fuel saved to be refined for gasoline or heating fuel, significantly reducing our reliance on imported oil as well as conserving our own resources. Additionally, our environment will benefit with a reduction in CO2 emissions and noise pollution.

Installation of APUs is being done in some state, such as California and Texas, but this proposal should be included in any energy or climate-change legislation. In addition, building new refineries should be encouraged, as well as oil exploration and drilling in the United States, all while continuing research for alternative fuels, including hydrogen fuel cells, nuclear, wind, and solar energy. Re-establishing our rail lines should also be a part of any energy plan. What a big mistake to pull up our railroad tracks in the late 1970s/1980s!

As to claims of senators and representatives flip flopping on the issues.... well times have changed, and people want CHANGE! There is a growing demand for oil and other resources, and it's only going to get worse as China and India continue to grow. It seems clear that Mr. Tolliver's Proposal should be considered, and the sooner the better for all.

Nancy McReady
CWCS President
, MN

News item on APUs: