It's Not an Oil Crisis; It's a Transportation Crisis

As long we buy the Kool-Aid that we have an oil crisis, we will never come to grips with the fact that what we have is a transportation crisis.

We have known for decades that fossil fuels were finite, and that sometime in the not-so distant-future we would have to replace oil as our primary fuel.

The oil companies continued to go to the well--the government one--and convinced them that they need tax breaks and incentives to drill, drill, drill. The Bush administration thinks, as do their friend in the oil industry, that energy independence will be achieved by drilling for gas in our Alaska wilderness, our National Parks and our offshore ecosystems.

Throughout history, economic development has been spurred by good and efficient forms of transportation. Through technological advancements, we have progressed from fording rivers in a hollowed out log, to sailing, and ultimately to steam boats and gas-burning vessels. The rivers were, and still are, our natural highways linking many communities throughout the world.

Cities that have strong ferry service provide much needed mass transportation that have created thriving economies that permit not only goods and services to be transported, but workers who can commute efficiently to the workplace. Even a city like New York would never have become the strong commercial center had it not been for the completion of the Erie Canal almost 200 years ago. Water and cities have been intrinsically connected throughout history.

The challenge that we are confronted with in this country is how do we lessen our dependence on fossil fuels. It is essential that we promote alternative means of transportation and improve our mass transit systems. What is required is to make sure our elected representatives understand that a strong urban policy is required that commits investment in the very infrastructure we knew was essential hundreds of years ago. For every mile of pavement we pour, we should link a mile of mass-transit rail. For every bridge to nowhere, we should build another dock for ferry service. The only way we will ever get out of our cars is to build a better system.

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