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Writing on the wall

I know that every one of us now has a story about hearing someone explain that they don't need farms anymore because they get their milk from the grocery store but, sadly though, the disconnect goes way beyond that.

This past weekend, I saw a report about a company that is trying to get their electric cars into the marketplace. I fully understand and agree that we should not rely on foreign oil for the majority of our energy needs, but do we truly understand that electricity does not come from the outlet in the wall? I think not.

It seems as though everyone is attempting to generate this wonderful problem-solving electric car to rescue the world. The most interesting thing is that their brand name is "Better Place."

As I listen to Shai Agassi, founder and CEO of Better Place, describe their structure, they are not car manufacturers at all but, rather, they are battery salesmen. In fact, he said what you pay for the car depends on how many miles you commit to driving it each year.

"We're just like a cell phone company," Agassi said. "We sell miles. We pay for your financing of the car, depending on how many miles you commit. Sort of like how many minutes you commit (on your phone). You can go all the way down (and in the case of people who drive a lot, like taxis) to zero."

Is that modern "conservation" or what?

California, a state that claims to lead the nation in every endeavor imaginable, is getting really serious this time. For example, Edison operates a fleet of 300 electric vehicles, most of which are Toyota RAV4s. The goal is to know the capabilities of the cars and how they're going to be used and recharged, and to try to make the conversion as seamless as possible.

It's also up to the California utilities to upgrade the more than 1,000 public charging locations, installed from airports to shopping centers, left over from the last time the nation's most motor-happy state thought it could make a go of electric transportation.

Is it just me, or does every single summer bring about news that California is dealing with brown out conditions? Isn't their power grid already taxed to the max? What happens if every tree-hugger out there now wants to run with electric cars?

Not wanting to be left out in the cold, other manufacturers like those that make ATVs are sticking their toes in the electrified water. Ashland-based Barefoot Motors is on the verge of turning out heavy-duty ATVs that can go 50 miles (80 kilometers) on a charge costing about 90 cents. So, you can see, everybody is abuzz about electric transportation but there is still one big problem. Electricity does not come from the outlet in the wall. It must be created.

Today, one half of all of our electricity comes from coal-fired power plants. Yet, have you monitored the news at all about the struggles of building a coal-fired power plant or even keeping an existing one open?

Last year, lawmakers tried three times to circumvent the regulator's decision to deny permits for Sunflower Electric Power Corporation's two-plant proposal. Each time, Gov. Kathleen Sebelius vetoed their efforts.

This type of story and struggle can be found daily across the nation, not only with coal-fired power plants but the same is happening to individuals attempting to build wind farms, as well. So at the end of the day, there will need to be some level of awareness that electricity doesn't just appear wherever you need to plug your car in.

Obviously, I think energy independence is a good thing. It does not matter whether that energy comes from domestic oil, coal, wind or ethanol. Mother Nature has provided us with all of those things and we need to think about what is best for future generations of human beings in this country.

The lame excuse of doing what is best for the planet is nothing more than another left-wing approach to controlling every aspect of our lives. I don't believe you need to be very "plugged in" to the writing on the wall, regarding that one.

While it is time to get "charged up" about American-made fuel sources, we need to apply a little common sense before we jump on any salvationary bandwagons that are only going to cause more problems for our kids and grandkids.

We are a nation of great minds--indeed, the one that discovered electricity. Let's open up the options to powering our great nation ahead to energy independence using the ideas, creativity and entrepreneurship that have helped us become world leaders in food production.

Editor's note: Trent Loos is a sixth generation United States farmer, host of the daily radio show, Loos Tales, and founder of Faces of Agriculture, a non-profit organization putting the human element back into the production of food. Get more information at www.FacesOfAg.com, or e-mail Trent at trent@loostales.com.

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