BOLIVAR PENINSULA – It looks like the Normandy invasion out there on the Gulf. Ship after ship, huge oil tankers low in the water, waiting to enter Galveston Bay and on to the refineries at Texas City, Baytown or Houston. In Bolivar Roads I counted nine more tankers. At $4.50 a gallon, pretty soon we’re talking about real money. What we pay at the pump now changes hourly. But there are ways to fight back, so cut out this column and paste it on your dashboard. First, don’t carry any unnecessary baggage. (Baggage in your car, that is. Your personal baggage is the subject for another discussion.) I just cleaned out my trunk. How did that dead raccoon get in there? I also tossed the spare tire and jack. Then, inside, I ripped out the floor mats, back seat and emptied the glove compartment. How did that live ferret get in there? Finally, I took out my brakes. In order to consume less gasoline, we also need to change our driving habits. Try to go down hill as much as possible. Do not make quick starts and stops. (See “brakes” above.) And keep an eye out for the best gas prices. Last week I was in Austin and heard about a great deal on gas in Waco. Sure enough, I filled up there and saved 15 cents a gallon. When driving on interstates, get right behind a big truck and take advantage of that vehicle in front breaking wind. Hmm. That doesn’t sound right. Anyway, it’s like the long distance ice skaters do. For best results, not to mention revenge, find a Shell tank truck and use a grappling hook. To save on gas, we can bundle our errands. For example, don’t make a separate trip to the cleaners for both your summer and winter clothes. Once a year is quite enough. Stop by the barber shop or beauty parlor on your way to the hospital emergency room. Save a trip by having your dentist clean your teeth twice at one sitting. And, not to brag, but I’ve already completed my Christmas shopping. You can find almost anything during a single swing through the dollar store.   Texans are already conservationists. We have more windmills and electricity produced by them than any other state. Of course, its takes a lot of diesel to run those wind blowers which make the blades turn. On the other hand, Texans live in gas houses. We consume two-thirds more energy and emit two-thirds more greenhouse gases per person than the average American, who is already twice as consumptive and polluting as people in the rest of the industrialized world. But why do we have this sharp increase in fuel prices? Because we are in the greedy grasp of oil barons, Mid East terrorists and Hugo Chavez. What did we do wrong? Well, some among us bought SUVs simply to drive to their job at the tattoo parlor. How often do you see a Ford Intimidator or a GM Annihilator with only the driver aboard? Those SUVs are the size of a school bus without the redeeming quality. Back here on the Bolivar beach, I am looking at another energy problem and solution: one of those humungous offshore drilling platforms, just beyond the Texas coast. It’s hard to fathom, so to speak, the rejection of offshore drilling in places like California and Florida, because Texas has been drilling in the Gulf for decades with billions of royalty dollars going to our public schools. What’s the down side? OK, a few dead birds, flotsam from the rigs and tar washing up on our sandy beaches. We are told the tar is natural leakage, and ours is high octane. But I feel the tank is half full. Texas has an advantage: when we joined the U.S. we negotiated to keep all our public lands including six leagues out in the Gulf. Other water-front states should get such a deal, then they’d see the advantages of drilling rigs on their horizon. There is also a lot of objection to drilling in the northern part of Alaska. Environmentalists always show scenes on TV of frolicking elks on green meadows. I’ve been to the North Slope of Alaska. It’s a barren desert, no frothy snow and no Igloo Muckluck rubbing noses with his wives as moose mate in the background. The place gets practically no precipitation and is desolate. It’s like the moon. I visited Valdez, too, before the Exxon captain got his DWI.   Some talk show radio hosts blame the fuel shortage on a lack of refining capacity and note that treehuggers have prevented the oil industry from building any new refinery in the past 20 years. As usual, these semi-educated knuckle draggers deliberately mislead. What they don’t point out is that the oil people find it a lot easier to expand an existing refinery than clear all the EPA and OSHA hurdles to build a new facility. Port Arthur, for example, is currently doubling the refining capacity at one of its plants. We never hear about that. Leftist anti-Americans note that the oil barons keep telling us how relatively little profits their companies make. Those opponents of free enterprise point out that Lee R. Raymond, who retired in 2006 as CEO of Exxon Mobil, received more than $686 million during his final 12 years on the job, or $144,573 a day. A pittance, I say, compared to the GNP of Denmark. Irving-based Exxon Mobil, which broke its own record of $39.5 billion in profits in 2006, topped that with $40.6 billion in 2007, the most profit any U.S. company has ever made. That’s $77,213 a minute. This is the third year in a row that the oil giant has broken the nation’s profit record. OK, I’m off to run my carefully thought out string of gas-saving errands. I don’t mind being taken to the cleaners, if only someone else would take me.   Ashby is well-oiled at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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