Long-time lack of vision and leadership created the energy the V.I. now suffers
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It was with great interest, and to some extent amazement, that I observed some of our elected leaders and other officials traveled to Washington, D.C. to seek, some may say to beg, the federal government for assistance in addressing our energy crisis.
It is not our energy "situation"; it is indeed a "crisis" of enormous proportions that is threatening the economic lifeblood of this territory.
And now our leaders, some of whom may have visions of grandeur come 2014, have come to the realization that unless we fix this now, this territory could be in dire straits both economically and socially. I certainly wish them success on their mission; because if they succeed, all of us naturally would be the beneficiaries of reduced energy costs.
I cannot help, however, but to point out again publicly how myopic our leaders have been in addressing this most urgent issue. Collectively, they have been somewhat reticent on this issue for years. Yes, there have been some piecemeal approaches in an attempt to address this issue, but not in a comprehensive manner.
Now they are telling us that within the next 18 months (which I have heard mentioned from last year, and I am having a little difficulty trying to ascertain when the 18 months begin), we will be seeing some relief. I don't believe that all the available options are being discussed, at least not publicly.
I must give some credit to some of our elected leaders, however, for acknowledging that we should have addressed this issue earlier but that it is better late than never.
Really? This is yet another example of expecting different results using the same old models, with the same people being elected biennially. We must change the way in which we conduct business, if we wish to have different outcomes.
For close to 50 years we had an oil refinery on our shores that generated gasoline excise taxes when sold on the mainland. We believe that we were entitled to those taxes and attempted to claim those taxes through the courts. We eventually lost that challenge, as we all know.
I am not sure whether a nonlegal case was ever made to the federal government that, based on our dire economic situation and other financial considerations - such as the application of certain credit provisions that we are obligated to under the mirror tax system as to the applicability of the Internal Revenue Code - that perhaps a portion of the gasoline taxes could have been rebated to us for specific purposes and a specific time, such as for the building of new power generating facilities.
Obviously we have now lost that leverage.
It is my hope, and the hope of many in this territory such as those families who are camping out in their homes using candlelight and dipping water out of their cisterns or those businesses that have turned off their lights during business hours, that our elected leaders and other officials are successful in getting the feds to assist in bringing relief to this crisis.
But we the people deserve to have the sort of leadership that is visionary and proactive. Come 2014, we must think fresh.
- Marvin Pickering, St. Croix