Gov. Sarah Palin suggests issuing debit cards to Alaskans to help defray high energy costs. While I have no reason to doubt her sincerity, the effort would be just as shortsighted and misguided as the effort of Rep. Bill Thomas, R-Haines, to present all Alaska Permanent Fund recipients a $500 energy bonus.
Some problems are so overwhelming that only governments can amass the necessary funds to attack them. The current energy crisis is definitely one of this nature. This crisis will not pass as long as we pursue the same course. We must alter our path.
Alaska has tremendous energy potential - wind, hydro, tides, solar, geothermal. The possibilities are limited only by our imagination.
Instead of encouraging the same wasteful behaviors, a true leader should be steering us in new directions. How many self-sufficient systems could be set up for the same amount of money? What would it cost to reimburse expenditures by communities or individuals that would add to our oil independence?
The oil companies, the only others with deep enough pockets, certainly won't be coming to the rescue until they have made every last dime from their current infrastructure investment. Alaska is unique in its ability to meet this crisis head on with meaningful and long-lasting solutions. Distributing free money is not a solution. It only prolongs the inevitable. We need to stop treating symptoms and attack the cause.
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