Do Energy Conservation and Exploration Go Hand in Hand?

The editorial "Energy: Conservation, Not Drilling," Feb. 25, eloquently calls for additional conservation measures when Congress addresses the national energy policy, but it completely misses the point of exploring for new domestic sources of oil and gas. The issue is not subject to an "either-or" decision. New sources of oil aren't needed so we can burn more; they are needed to maintain us while we search for alternatives. Every major oil field in the US is in decline. Conservation can slow our use of fossil fuels, but it cannot eliminate it. Because oil is a nonrenewable commodity with a universally high value, our needs will inevitably conflict with those of other nations. While energy use in the US is declining, third-world use is growing rapidly.

A rational energy policy has to protect our interests in the long term. We need adequate domestic oil supplies to provide stability while we develop and implement alternatives. Conservation is indeed needed, but it can't solve our problem by itself.

US Sen. Frank H. Murkowski Alaska

President Bush's National Energy Plan has been unjustly criticized on many fronts. But the administration's broad-based approach is a positive and important step toward independence from foreign sources of energy, without hurting consumers or the economy. One of the most important conservation efforts in the plan is an executive order which would mandate energy efficiency in federal buildings nationwide. From the White House to local post offices, all 500,000 federal facilities would be required to reduce their consumption of energy. It is estimated the executive order would save taxpayers as much as $1 billion each year.

If it were easy to implement an energy policy, we would have had one a long time ago. With the order mandating conservation at the federal level, President Bush has the chance to show our nation's leadership in energy efficiency to the rest of the world. We can only benefit from diminished pollution, a reduced national debt, and a public that is aware of the advantages of energy conservation.

Douglas A. Decker Milwaukee

A distorted image of war Somewhere up in the attic, in a dusty old trunk filled with survival gear and battered boots and a helmet with squadron markings, is a leather Navy flight jacket covered with patches from my tour in Vietnam. I thought about it when I saw the ad in the March 15 Monitor for "The Official Military Issue Genuine Leather A-2 Flying Jacket."

I know such things are much in fashion now, especially since the world is so fascinated with war in the Persian Gulf. Then I read that day's religious article about prayer and spiritual values and where the real battleground lies, and I began to feel more and more uncomfortable with that advertisement.

It seems specifically intended to arouse a fascination with combat, offering a not-so-subtle opportunity (for the sale price of $199) to join "an elite breed of fighting men" by dressing up like "America's World War II flying heroes" who launched "daring" raids against Tokyo. No mention of the death and destruction that resulted.

I am very grateful for the corrective and much more substantial idea that followed a few pages later on the Home Forum. And also for the Monitor's advertisement offering shortwave radios at cost to troops in the Gulf. But this vet keeps his leather jacket more as a reminder of the horrors of war than as a symbol of anything like glory.

Brad Knickerbocker Ashland, Ore.

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