Month 5, Day 7: Back on Board the Times!

My 60-day exclusion period at the New York Times is now over, so I can start sending them letters again. Lisa Margonelli, the director of the New America Foundation’s energy initiative, had an excellent op-ed on May 1 that seemed to call for a little reinforcement. This letter is a little late for something that was printed last Saturday, but I’m thinking of it as a test run for the oil/cigarette analogy.

Lisa Margonelli is absolutely correct in her analysis of America’s entanglement with oil. Most Americans are unaware of the extent to which the petroleum industry benefits from government largesse in the form of subsidies, tax breaks, and regulatory loopholes — and most Americans likewise have internalized the notion that fossil fuels are “cheap.” It’s time to drop that idea, which requires that we ignore the costs of cleaning up the inevitable spills and disasters, of public health effects, environmental destruction, and global warming, not to mention the odd war or two waged over oil sources. Calling oil “cheap energy,” is akin to calling cigarettes “food.”

America needs to kick the habit; fossil fuels are bad for us, bad for the planet, and bad for the economy our children and grandchildren are going to inherit.

Warren Senders