A Manhattan project to end oil dependency | AspenTimes.com

A Manhattan project to end oil dependency

Cliff Weiss

Similar to the 2004 election, I am in a quandary. I’m frustrated with the present administration, but can’t find a ray of hope coming from anyone in the Democratic Party. Other than with my vote, I can’t find a compelling reason to support the Democrats with donations or my time to help with a candidate’s campaign.I wanted to share with you an idea that I believe could motivate voters to put the Democratic Party in office throughout the land. I wholeheartedly would support the first candidate that puts forth the concept of a new Energy “Manhattan Project” for the purpose of getting America completely off gasoline. The project should be funded and manned with the same zeal and fervor we used to develop an atom bomb in just three years during WWII. After all, like then, we are at war. But, I can’t help feeling we are losing this one.A little bit of history. During the original Manhattan Project, the government recruited and sequestered our finest scientific minds (including Albert Einstein) under the protection of the military. Washington directed the project and gave scientists all the funds and equipment they needed – rather than waiting for corporate America, or competing university laboratories to develop new technology so important to the survival of the United States. Only the power and determination of the entire federal government could accomplish a task so big. We put men on the moon in the sixties; why can’t we accomplish the end of oil dependency?Whether we invent synthetic gas or some alternative fuel; if America invents it, we would then be able to sell it to the rest of the world. That would make America rich, and it would stop making our enemies rich. This Energy Manhattan Project also would solve many of the other problems our country faces today: the national debt, global warming, air pollution and drilling in environmentally sensitive areas. In the global arena, we wouldn’t need to meddle in the affairs of other countries only for the pursuit of oil.Consider the stupidity of a recent broadcast on CNN. General Motors had just unveiled their prototype Hydrogen car, capable of driving 300 miles before refilling and pollution-free. The problem for General Motors and other car companies was that there were no stations to get hydrogen. Any leader of this country who really wanted this country off oil simply would offer tax breaks to companies that add hydrogen at the pumps, and would give auto makers an order for the entire fleet of government cars to help them with production. It would be cheaper than the war in Iraq. But after all, does Bush really want the country off oil? I think most Americans don’t believe in conspiracy theories, but it’s pretty widely accepted where Bush and Cheney get their bread buttered.The concept of an Energy Manhattan Project represents a great opportunity for both the Democratic Party and our nation. Americans are hungry for a leader with a bold vision to lead America back to greatness. If the next Democratic presidential candidate could embrace and articulate a real plan to completely eliminate our dependence on gasoline, I bet they’d have no trouble getting people to make campaign contributions. They’d certainly have my vote and my check.Cliff Weiss is an Aspen resident.