Currently, there is not a 12-step program for addicts to fossil fuels but perhaps there should be.

Living in Michigan, I thought us immune to the danger of a catastrophe similar to the likes of the one that is decimating the Gulf of Mexico right now. Nor did I ever think that we needed to worry about an Exxon Valdez type calamity ever washing up on the shores of any of the Great Lakes.

Who knew that in my own back yard, an oil disaster was brewing?

Sometime earlier this week, an underground pipeline owned by Enbridge Energy Partners released into Talmadge Creek some 840,000 gallons of oil. A drop in the bucket in comparison to the amount that spewed into the Gulf over the past months, however it is devastating to the fragile water Eco-system of West Michigan. This morning, Michigan Radio reported that already at least 50 geese have died and that the EPA is monitoring the toxicity of the area.

The oil has already made its way to the Kalamazoo River, which in turn feeds into Lake Michigan.

The realities of what the inhabitants who live on the Gulf Shores have been and are still experiencing arrived this week to my neighborhood in a most unwelcome manner.

Well, you might say, it is not my fault that these calamities are occurring, after all, I am not the one drilling holes in the earth to find oil!

Ah, yes… but I am a consumer of that oil!

We as a nation need to all take a step back and examine our dependence on fossil fuels, and we need to do so quickly. We need to demand viable solutions that are cost efficient as well. I would love to support Chevrolet by purchasing their new technology soon to be available in the Chevy Volt; however, with a $41,000 price tag; it is not likely that my budget will support that anytime soon.

What is the answer then that makes sense, reduces our dependence on fossil fuels, is affordable, and will find most Americans excited to support?

That is the million-dollar question, to be sure!

For starters, I would gladly support through tax dollars would be a transit system that encompassed all of West Michigan. Not only would I support it, I would use it! I drive 20 miles one-way to work, and if I had the option of taking rapid transit, I would! Yes, it might make my commute longer than the 20 or so minutes it is now, but the time would be well-spent knitting or reading. I would embrace a system that gave me alternatives to what I have today. While Holland has a version of “mass transit,” it does not function for the working crowd at all, it has limited hours and routes. Add to that the fact that it makes its last run at 6 o’clock at night and you can see the frustration many have with it.

My source of electricity uses coal for production that I find to be an archaic source, albeit effective. However, West Michigan has an abundance of wind energy that we are not effectively harnessing for our use. If we could utilize some wind turbines and use coal fired power as a backup, we could reduce our carbon footprint significantly! To those naysayers who fear a noise increase due to the turbines turning in the breeze, I offer that your lawn mower makes more noise! It seems that in a community boasting of the ownership of a windmill that they would be first on the block to be sporting some new and shiny wind turbines!

While I do not profess to have all the answers, I do indeed see that my dependency on fossil fuels is in need of some drastic alteration; perhaps I can convince Ralph Nader to start Fossil Fuels Anonymous…

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