<b>A call for innovation</b>

EDITOR: As a long-time Sonoma County resident and small business owner, I am somewhat sympathetic to Chris Bambury's plight ("The state's self-imposed fuel embargo," Close to Home, July 21). I worry when prices go up and consumers stop spending. But the problem isn't the state's low-carbon fuel standard, which reduces pollution and provides consumers alternatives to oil. The problem is we rely almost exclusively on oil, the price of which is extremely volatile.

Consumers need choices in vehicle fuels. Many oil companies began to research and provide alternative fuels. Some even marketed themselves as leaders in alternative energy. But now they're choosing to attack California's environmental policies, rather than innovating.

Every major car manufacturer is providing or coming out with hybrid vehicles or all-electric cars. Why don't gas stations jump on this bandwagon and provide plug-in stations or battery exchanges? Every mandated innovation from seat belts to the catalytic converter to better fuel efficiency has been described as a doomsday event by industry. It is always the same doom and gloom: higher prices for something consumers don't want. Well, this time we are getting exactly what we want and what we need: cleaner, cheaper fuels and a serious response to carbon emissions.