Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Synar: Feds Must Help Firms Cut Energy Usage

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Synar: Feds Must Help Firms Cut Energy Usage

Article excerpt

By Ronda Fears Journal Record Staff Reporter Energy conservation visions that were advanced in the 1970s when Americans were stalled in gasoline lines have waned, and it is now time for the federal government to model its admonition to U.S. industry to cut back on energy usage, an Oklahoma congressman said Wednesday.

"We ought to lead by example," said U.S. Rep. Mike Synar, D-Okla.

Synar was the luncheon keynote speaker Wednesday at the Energy 2001 conference, a week-long event aimed at heightening awareness of conservation and environmental issues in the business and public eye. The conference coincides with the Industrial Show and is sponsored by industry and state government agencies.

In the late 1970s, mandate after mandate for more efficient buildings and vehicles were enacted by Congress, only to have languished and failed, Synar said.

Energy security was in the forefront of legislators' minds then, as the first oil crisis struck, but after the initial scare subsided a more lax attitude prevailed. U.S. oil imports have risen from about 37 percent in 1979 to about 50 percent last year.

"We've been very discouraged," the Muskogee native said.

"We thought we'd be farther down the road today." U.S. government spending on fuel has continued to rise over the past 15 years, while spending on conservation measures has fallen, observed Douglas Decker, business development manager for Johnson Controls Inc. of Milwaukee, which has a plant in Poteau, Okla., and corporate offices in Oklahoma City and Tulsa.

In 1981, the federal government spent $300 million on conservation measures, Decker told Energy 2001 conference registrants. By 1989, that figure had dropped to $50 million, he said.

One of the biggest government culprits in energy consumption and lack of conservation measures, Decker said, is the U.S. Department of Defense.

That branch uses 80 percent of the fuel consumed by the federal government and from 1987 through 1989 spent nothing or next to nothing on conservation measures, he said.

The visions of energy entrepreneurs of two decades ago, such as solar vehicles or factories run on wind power, are still alive and perhaps worthwhile, but there are more simple measures the U. …

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