In their view ...

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Ho! Ho! Ho!

America got an early Christmas gift this year with the news that as a nation we're about to become energy independent -- at least in terms of fossil fuels.

The Energy Department reported this week that in 2012 America will produce 83 percent of all the energy it needs to power its automobiles and airplanes this year and is on course to be 100 percent energy independent next year.

And that should be a sign of relief to us all.

For now, at least, we're not as linked to unstable oil reserves in the Middle East or elsewhere. The United States is poised to pass Saudi Arabia as the largest oil-producing nation on Earth.

But there are two caveats to this good news.

One is that our energy independence is being driven in large part by new technological breakthroughs that allow drilling for oil in challenging areas and difficult geological formations. It's expensive, and the environmental damages that such drilling might cause are not yet fully known.

We need to know the costs and the dangers and take steps to keep the production rolling along with minimal damage to our pocketbooks and our environment.

And second, now is not the time to quit conserving. Every gallon of fuel we don't consume now, is a gallon we can save for later generations and more taxing times.

But enjoy the early Christmas.

We've given ourselves and our children a gift that will keep on giving.

Scripps Howard

News Service

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