Regarding the article ``Auto Energy Alternatives Down the Road,'' Oct. 17: Compressed natural gas is the best alternative for cleaning the air in our cities. Diesel buses, taxis, and local commercial vehicles are perhaps the largest contributors to city smog. These vehicles can accommodate the somewhat shorter range available with compressed gas. The changeover to gas is simple for gasoline engines, but may require new engines for diesel cars. The result of such changes would be well worth the time and cost.
I am much less hopeful about electric vehicles. Electricity is not a fuel, but only a transmitter of energy from coal, oil, or nuclear power plants. Only 25 percent of the energy in the fuel finds its way as energy in the vehicle's storage batteries.
This is about the same energy efficiency as for gasoline automobiles, but would require proportionate increases in our electric generating systems.
The transfer of air pollution from city streets to tall smoke stacks would be beneficial, leaving the main problems to be the short range of electric vehicles and future traffic jams caused by dead batteries. C. Fayette Taylor, Brookline, Mass.
Different styles in Gulf The editorial ``The Gulf: 1990, Not '45,'' Oct. 19, about Japan's participation in the Persian Gulf crisis, proves that the Japanese are again one step ahead of the US.
When deciding whether or not to send troops to the Gulf, Prime Minister Kaifu had to be very deliberate and weigh the consequences of the law. This contrasts with the American style, which attacks and then either changes the law or declares that it does not apply to a particular situation.
Deliberation on our part would have allowed the UN to provide more leadership and reduce the growing worldwide feeling that the US acts as a 911 response to every crisis that arises in the world. Gary McCaslin, Worcester, Mass.
Air war tactics The article ``Air Power Can't Dislodge Iraq,'' Oct. 18, correctly points out that air bombardment of cities and civilians has never demonstrated effectiveness in bringing an enemy to terms. What it always entails, of course, is the cruel killing of thousands of innocent women and children.
Let us pray that in the Middle East crisis our government has enough sense and morality not to undertake this ineffective and barbarous tactic. David Herron, Atherton, Calif.
Military speed and surprise The editorial ``More Than Consult,'' Oct. 22, unwittingly immobilizes the president.
Intelligence assessments must be reserved for the president. If not, Saddam Hussein might be positioned to take defensive steps while the president awaits congressional consultation and approval.
Speed and surprise assure effective military blitzkrieg. This advantage should not be lost while political and legal factors act as delaying, decisive obstacles. Elliott A. Cohen, New York