Drilling Alaska's Oil Reserves Brings No Barrels of Fun

Drilling Alaska's Oil Reserves Brings No Barrels of Fun

In the opinion-page essay ''To Avoid Long Lines for Gas, Tap Alaska's Oil Reserves,'' May 18, Sen. Frank Murkowski (R) of Alaska quotes some correct statistics but draws the wrong conclusions. The US Interior Department estimates that combined proven and undiscovered domestic oil reserves total 62 billion barrels.

US annual consumption is about 6.2 billion barrels, about half of which is imported. At present rates of consumption, simple arithmetic shows that domestic oil will be depleted in just 20 years. Using Senator Murkowski's estimates, there are about 9 billion barrels on Alaska's Arctic Coast, which is only about a year and a half's supply for the US, hardly a lasting solution. Policymakers and citizens need to realize that we will never again achieve energy independence. We need to stretch our domestic resources by conservation measures, and use American ingenuity and expertise to work on alternatives.

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Lee Larson Granville, Ohio

I appreciate Senator Murkowski's concern about imported oil. American dependence on foreign oil does need to be limited to lesson our present vulnerability. However, the view that increased drilling for oil in Alaska would solve this problem is shortsighted.

The article claims that exploiting Alaska's petroleum resources would boost the US economy by providing jobs and shrinking the trade deficit. This would be true in the near future, but in the long run it will only extend the harmful habit of squandering precious resources. To improve the economy the US should invest in researching ways to use fuel more efficiently and to collect energy from renewable sources. While drilling may not lead to oil spills and pollution, it will contribute to habitat destruction. It would also give Americans a false sense of security in oil. The US shouldn't look for new places to drill, but rather search for ways to reduce excessive consumption of petroleum.

Kate Collins La Canada, Calif.

I find it hard to understand that your respected newspaper would publish such an antienvironmental article. Senator Murkowski's suggestions would destroy some of the most pristine areas in Alaska and eventually create situations that will make the Valdez oil spill look like a Sunday School picnic. The present pipeline is creating enough problems.

Joyce Bryant Hallowell, Maine

Putting 'Christ' back into Christianity

Regarding the front-page article ''Another Religious Coalition Vies For a Spot on Political Dance Card,'' May 25: Thank God for the religious leaders who have joined together to resist the religious right's lust for money and power and to put Christ back into public Christianity.

Richard Gleaves San Diego

In defense of Pat Robertson

In the letter ''Be Leery of Demagogues,'' May 23, the writer uses religion as a weapon to launch a political attack against religious broadcaster Pat Robertson. The writer is simply wrong in his assertion that Mr. Robertson ''has parlayed his tax-exempt ministry into a multimillion dollar fortune and created a political machine with the ultimate goal of turning America into a Christian theocracy.'' In a law review article published in the current edition of the William & Mary Bill of Rights Journal, Mr. Robertson writes: ''I agree that the church and state should be separate because the separation of church and state is good for religion, religious institutions, and the religious liberty of believers.''

The writer may not like Mr. Robertson's politics, but he should not use religion as a weapon in this debate.

Gene Kapp Virginia Beach, Va.

Vice president, public relations

The Christian Broadcasting Network

Your letters are welcome. For publication they must be signed and include your address and telephone number. Only a selection can be published and none acknowledged. Letters should be addressed to ''Readers Write'' and may be sent by mail to One Norway St., Boston, MA 02115, by fax to 617-450-2317, or by Internet E-mail (200 words maximum) to OPED@RACHEL.CSPS.COM.

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