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Energy summit draws crowd to hear experts

Several audience members asked questions and made comments during the forum. Tyler McNeal, Stilwell, said the search for energy should not encroach on America's shrinking tall grass prairie, including in the Flint Hills of Kansas. "Tall grass prairie is considered one of the most important ecological systems in North America; that compares to the rain forest," McNeal said. "I'm concerned that this important, fragile ecosystem is threatened by the development, for instance, of industrial wind turbine complexes."

A forum on the energy crisis facing many Americans every time they fill their gas tanks drew more than 50 residents from across Johnson County to the University of Kansas Edwards Campus, Overland Park, Tuesday.

Energy industry and government leaders expressed ideas and heard from people at U.S. Rep. Dennis Moore's forum, "Third District Energy Summit: A Call for Energy Independence."

Continued instability in the Middle East, last year's hurricanes and record-high gas prices underscore the need for a meaningful energy policy, Moore said.

"As we continue to depend on politically unstable nations for oil, we will continue to be entangled in foreign conflicts which threaten both our economic and national security," Moore told the audience. "If we set goals and if we act now, we can make a difference."

Moore discussed John Kennedy's May 1961 speech that called for putting an American on the moon within a decade. The goal led to astronaut Neil Armstrong stepping on the moon July 21, 1969.

"We set a goal and we met that goal, and we can do the same thing with regard to energy," Moore said.

Seven panelists joined Moore: Jim Ploger, Kansas Energy... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

A forum on the energy crisis facing many Americans every time they fill their gas tanks drew more than 50 residents from across Johnson County to the University of Kansas Edwards Campus, Overland Park, Tuesday.

Energy industry and government leaders expressed ideas and heard from people at U.S. Rep. Dennis Moore's forum, "Third District Energy Summit: A Call for Energy Independence."

Continued instability in the Middle East, last year's hurricanes and record-high gas prices underscore the need for a meaningful energy policy, Moore said.

"As we continue to depend on politically unstable nations for oil, we will continue to be entangled in foreign conflicts which threaten both our economic and national security," Moore told the audience. "If we set goals and if we act now, we can make a difference."

Moore discussed John Kennedy's May 1961 speech that called for putting an American on the moon within a decade. The goal led to astronaut Neil Armstrong stepping on the moon July 21, 1969.

"We set a goal and we met that goal, and we can do the same thing with regard to energy," Moore said.

Seven panelists joined Moore: Jim Ploger, Kansas Energy Office; Tom Jacobs, Mid-America Regional Council; Sue Schulte, Kansas Corn Growers Association; Rob Freeman, TradeWind Energy; Ken Peterson, Kansas Petroleum Council director; Gina Bowman-Morrill, Coffeyville Resource; and Mike Deggendorf, Great Plains Energy, parent company of Kansas City Power and Light.

Ploger said the United States depended on foreign countries for about 50 percent of oil use during the 1970s oil crisis. The nation learned little, he said, with dependence now estimated at 60 percent.

Peterson said oil companies have done a poor job of telling their story to the public.

"We know we're in the bull's-eye right now," he said.

Investor-owned American oil companies are in the world minority, with 77 percent of oil owned and operated by foreign countries, Peterson said. Free-market competition is tough, he said, with emerging nations such as India and China competing for oil.

"Stable markets are probably a thing of the past," Peterson said.

Freeman said traditional energy providers have little incentive to invest in alternative fuel sources while profiting from the status quo.

"This is really contrary to risk-taking," Freeman said.

The nation's leaders need to set a meaningful energy policy, he said.

"In the regulatory, legislative, political spectrum, there is a lack of leadership," he said.

Several audience members asked questions and made comments during the forum. Tyler McNeal, Stilwell, said the search for energy should not encroach on America's shrinking tall grass prairie, including in the Flint Hills of Kansas.

"Tall grass prairie is considered one of the most important ecological systems in North America; that compares to the rain forest," McNeal said. "I'm concerned that this important, fragile ecosystem is threatened by the development, for instance, of industrial wind turbine complexes."

McNeal said Kansas City Power and Light developed a turbine complex that shows concern for the environment, but other such developers have not shown that concern.

Freeman said as the wind-generation industry grows, more environmental concern is emerging. This includes, he said, companies being cautious about whether to build in the Flint Hills.

Ploger said western Kansas can generate wind energy, but the cost to transmit energy elsewhere has been a concern. Talk is now under way, he said, about building a transmission line.

Jason Littlejohn, Lawrence, said America has ignored oil resources, including at Alaska's North Slope and Gull Island. The comments are supported in a book by Lindsey Williams, who suggests the government is engaged in an "energy conspiracy."

Abner Deatherage, Prairie Village, who worked with the oil industry for 50 years prior to retirement, said untapped Alaskan oil deposits are real.

"I've got documentation," Deatherage said.

Moore said, "I'd like to see it."

Deatherage said he favors conservation and alternative fuel sources, but for them to have an effect could take 20 years versus the faster path offered by developing known U.S. oil supplies. He said those supplies could end dependence on the Middle East and cut price at the pumps by half.

"The oil is there," Littlejohn said.

Larry Shipley, Lenexa, said Americans could reduce fuel use by 20 percent immediately. Slow down, he said, from 80 mph to 55 mph and fuel economy will improve.

During the OPEC oil crisis, President Nixon in 1973 signed a bill - which President Carter later supported - lowering speed limits to 55 mph to "save lives, fuel and money." President Clinton objected but agreed to end the law in 1995.

In the House, Moore co-sponsors a bipartisan bill, the Vehicle and Fuel Choices for American Security Act, providing incentives for building more efficient vehicles. The measure also calls for the nation to cut oil use by 2.5 million barrels per day by 2015 and by 5 million barrels by 2025.

Moore told the crowd that if Americans work together, they could end foreign oil dependence.

"If we put our minds to it and we get a plan, we can accomplish this and achieve a great reduction in dependence on foreign oil in the future," Moore said, "and that's going to be healthy for our economy and for our security as a nation."

 


Source: http://www.zwire.com/site/n...

AUG 17 2006
http://www.windaction.org/posts/4013-energy-summit-draws-crowd-to-hear-experts
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