Tackling the Energy Issue

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Mort Zuckerman's editorial titled "Stop the Energy Insanity" [July 21-28] really missed the mark.

He, along with every other Republican politician, states that increased drilling offshore and in Artic National Wildlife Refuge would produce 96 billion barrels of oil while only having "minimal environmental disturbance." On the contrary, this drilling would have a catastrophic impact on the environment. This drilling would mean keeping our world on carbon-based energy for another 20+ years, increasing the damaging effects of Global Warming on our already fragile environment. Right now, we have the technology to completely end out addition to oil within 15 years. For Mort to say that we should explore and drill for a dirty energy source that we should make obsolete if we want to truly protect the environment is ignoring the reality of Global Warming. Also, I noticed that while he mentioned McCain's "Lexington Project," he completely ignored Obama's much tougher and much more environmentally-friendly $150 billion energy plan. While this magazine has been at the forefront of alternative energy development and the crisis of Global Warming, its editor is unfortunately just repeating Republican talking-points.

Christopher D. Brock


Camden , OH  

Mortimer Zuckerman's editorial headlined "Stop the Energy Insanity" hits the mark. We can't continue to lock up potential sources of domestic energy as dictated by unreasonable (if not insane) radical environmentalist fear mongering. The $700 billion yearly outflow to foreigners for imported energy is destroying the value of the dollar, and this is abetting a vicious upward cost spiral. However, the otherwise comprehensive editorial didn't mention a need to greatly expand our nuclear power generating capacity. The future use of plug-in hybrid vehicles — when safe, suitable batteries are finally developed — will require much more electric power, and nuclear offers the cleanest, most efficient, practical and reliable option.

M. Robert Paglee


Moorestown , N .J.  

Zuckerman had many good points for solving our energy problem, but drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge was not one of them. This pristine area must be protected, and would not add a significant volume of oil relative the environmental risks to wildlife. The arctic wildlife including polar bears are already threatened by global warming and they do not to be further threatened. Simply lowering the national speed limit to 55mph (as Jimmy Carter did) would save a significant amount of oil, not to mention traffic accidents and fatalities, and costly road improvements for higher speeds.

Donna Snow


Olympia , W ash.  

Both candidates fail to grasp consequences of our refusal to deal with energy issues. Neither seems to understand the domino effect of accelerated Dollar erosion, uncontrollable oil costs, out of control trade deficits, the effect on financial markets with ultimately disastrous losses of retirement and pension funds. There doesn't seem to be the slightest concern over energy related National security issues. While both parties are wasting time on the wrong issues, the Chinese in partnership with the Cubans are drilling for oil in the gulf area. Inactivity will destroy this great nation. We need strong decisive leadership now. We must proceed now to produce more energy, tax automobiles with more than 4 cylinders, fund a meaningful synthetic fuel and special engine program with $ 100 Billion Dollars annually. Chinese/Cuban oil drilling in the gulf would have been unthinkable under Roosevelt, Truman, Kennedy or Reagan. Are we saving those resources for the Chinese?

Aln G. Kogerup


Spring Grove , Ill.  

The assumption that we can't chew gum and walk at the same time that current politicians think of us when they say that we should not drill but pursue alternative energy sources insults my intelligence as well as the intelligence of all Americans. We can do both. For example, if a battery automobile were available today that can get a couple hundred miles on a fully charged battery, we could not purchase it in great numbers because our electricity generation is not up to par for recharging tens of thousands of cars at the same time. Thus, for a battery car to be commercially practical in large numbers, we need to build generation plants. Since we can't build coal fired plants, we need nuclear powered plants which will take 10-15 years to get on line. So, drilling for domestic oil is the bridge to other forms of energy generation.

George Pehlvanian


Riverside , Calif.  

Our government is currently purchasing oil to fill the The Strategic Petroleum Reserves at a cost of $111 per barrel. Rather than purchasing oil at such a cost we should be selling our 720 million barrels of SPR oil at this time when the market is high. We purchased the oil at an average cost of $28 per barrel. If we sold all of the reserves, we would realize a PROFIT of $80 billion dollars, a tidy sum even in government size budgets! We can sell about 4 million barrels per day. This equals a half billion dollars of PROFIT PER DAY! But wait, what about our needs if there is another oil embargo? Only our government would think up a scheme whereby they would sell oil in the ground on federal land to a private company. Then buy oil back from another private company and pump it back into the ground. Why not simply select an oil field containing reserves the size of our planned reserve (1 billion barrels) and keep it for when the need arises? Would it not be much more prudent to simply leave the oil in place where it is until needed? Let the new President declare a program to achieve our energy independence within 5 years with the promise to veto any pork barrel spending. This will have the immediate effect of reducting in the cost of oil, just as President Bush's lifting of the offshore ban did this month. Can we become independent within 5 years? Of course. Our Engineers and Scientists will step up to the plate with many winners including new energy sources and new methods of saving energy. Our last big energy plan only took 5 years and resulted in the largest source of energy developed since the discovery of oil. It was called the Manhattan Project and resulted in the atomic bomb and the birth of nuclear power!

Floyd Artrip


Charlottesville , Va.  

Zuckerman's recent editorial in USN was in favor of drilling in Artic National Wildlife Refuge, stated that so what if there was a slight decline in caribou at the drilling area. Looking at Prudhoe Bay there are more caribou there now than before drilling. No hunting is allowed around the oil pads and within 5 miles of the pipeline. The caribou quickly learn what areas are safe, and the noise does not seem to bother them. I do not expect any decline in the caribou from drilling in ANWR. Zuckerman's editorial mentioned how much oil the United States is importing, but did not mention how much we are also exporting. When Congress first authorized drilling on the North Slope Congress required all the oil be shipped to US refineries for use. But when BP bought into the North Slope they got Congress to allow them to export crude oil (CK) to other countries. So now, much of the North Slope crude is being exported and then we have to import more crude from Venezuela, Iraq, Nigeria, and other unstable countries. Congress should change the law back, so we keep our own oil and reduce our reliance on foreign imports.

George Strother


Wasilla , AK  

You might have mentioned the INSANITY of Congress' proposed "speed limit" (better to outlaw or raise licensing fees on 'gas guzzlers' by a magnitude equal to their guzzling). Congress could start with an EXCISE TAX on the selling price of the guzzlers and encourage the States to adjust licensing fees by awarding them a 'kick back' from the excise tax revenues.

M F Gates


Granada , C alif.  

In order to start to solve or at least relieve our energy problems, we must use our own resources. That means all our resources. Zuckerman does not mention utilizing our coal reserves to make syn fuels. This is probably the best use for coal. Nuclear power is the best source for electricity. We will not ever rid ourselves of the need for petroleum. We are dependent on many products derived from petroleum (plastics, insecticides, herbicides, etc.). As of now there is no substitute. Speaker Pelosi and Majority Leader Reid have shown that they do not want to solve this problem. If they did the common sense thing they would not be able to blame President Bush any longer.

John Stiegelmeyer


Vinton , IA  

Zuckerman's "Stop the Energy Insanity" Editorial touched on a myriad of good approaches to increased oil production, from offshore drilling (which President Bush finally OK'd) and to the opening of the Artic National Wildlife Refuge. You also list 5 energy imperatives which include conservation measures but you fail to mention Geothermal Electrical Generation. That would replace coal, oil, and natural gas. With climate concerns as high as they are, this would be our best 'Green' approach to electricity generation by significantly reducing the amount of coal required.

Duane C. Shearer


North Port , Fla.  

All of the rhetoric about energy, as well as food, water economic health, and other critical life issues, blithely disregards the burgeoning population of America and the world. America's population alone is expected to grow to 400,000,000 by 2050! While the geniuses in Washington are jousting about off-shore and wilderness drilling, they must address the question of population control. We should create a Cabinet-level department of Population Control which would develop and implement the means of not only controlling our population growth, but reducing our total population. For starters, how about a tax disincentive: deductions only for two children; additional children get none or a tax surcharge.

Howard B. Walitt


Grand Junction , Col o.  

While it may be true that alternative fuels can't completely replace petroleum today, they can put a significant dent in our use of fossil fuels. That alone makes them worth pursuing. If you extend Zuckerman's position, then we shouldn't bother to conserve energy, either, because that alone will not free us from imported oil. At least part of America's energy independence depends precisely on whether we will be able to use alternative fuels and provide the incentives for manufacturers and producers to explore sustainable energy sources. Biofuels contribute about eight billion gallons to the nation's fuel supply and biodiesel can be produced from inedible crops and waste sources such as used restaurant grease. The U.S. biodiesel industry also makes significant investments in developing promising new fuel sources such as oilseed crops as well as inedible products. Of course, limiting our consumption will help address the energy crunch, but long-term solutions will no doubt include biofuels and other alternative sources. And for this, we as Americans should be hopeful that we can one day achieve energy independence.

Ed Hegland


Chairman National Biodiesel Board
Jefferson City , Mo.  

Zuckerman suggests we can drill or conserve our way out of the oil crisis. Americans must get used to the idea that oil is a finite resource and in 25 years or less it will all be gone forever. We can conserve and drill, but we cannot escape that simple fact. And what then?

David Steiner


Allenspark, C olo.