US Energy Policy Shows Lack of Political Will and Little Imagination

The opinion-page article ``America's Confused Energy Policy,'' Jan. 10, is correct on all counts. The lack of political will is real. We have developed a society of urban sprawl. We wish to shop, work, and attend school in patterns that mass transit cannot serve. Town zoning with a lower limit on lot size has eliminated mobile homes. The result: Low-income people have moved into the country where access to jobs will be threatened by high fuel prices. We are the only country in the world to do this, and there is no political will to reverse this trend. Richard C. Hill, Orono, Maine

A US energy policy should promote energy efficiency and conservation, and renewable energy over fossil and nuclear fuels, especially for environmental reasons. This course is often dismissed as having small potential. Yet from 1973 to 1986, impelled by the OPEC oil embargo, our energy use remained constant while GNP grew 35 percent. Japan and Germany produce a unit of GNP with half the energy used by the US. Restoration of funding for renewable energy research and development would enable solar, wind, and biomass energies to become significant contributors. This funding was cut almost 90 percent from 1980 to 1989.

Energy efficiency and renewables do not have the serious environmental disadvantages of fossil and nuclear power, and can begin to replace these energy sources if the political will exists to fund research and development and create incentives for implementation and use.

Richard Barsanti, Western Springs, Ill.

I am disillusioned by the president's ``new'' national energy strategy. Mr. Bush continues the dependence on the myopic theory of reaching energy sustainability by emphasizing production more than conservation. He does nothing to increase automotive fuel efficiency, little to even out the disparity of subsidies between oil and conservation, and next to nothing to encourage the use of renewables. These policies will create an infrastructure dependent on waste and loath to change, leaving the US vulnerable to the costs of foreign oil once our resources are depleted. The price of oil is expected to drop after the end of the war, and politicians must take this opportunity to implement a gasoline tax that will curb consumption and increase revenues. Higher auto fuel efficiency standards should be phased in, and funds allocated for highway building should be transferred to public transportation. Gas-guzzling cars should be taxed to reward consumers who purchase fuel-efficient cars.

With a little imagination, courage, and objectivity, the president could certainly have come up with better proposals.

Abdi Soltani, Milton, Mass.

Take a close look at `free' care The editorial ``Pete Wilson Sets a Good Course,'' Jan. 15, caught my attention because I am from California and recently was involved with prenatal care. The editorial concerns me.

``Free'' prenatal care being promised to every mother in California sounds like the beginning of ``free'' medical care for everyone. The fact is, nothing is free and most likely will be funded by higher taxes.

However, the deeper question arises in defining prenatal care in this age of highly technical medical procedures and tests. Many of the prenatal tests are very expensive and results are often inconclusive. Certainly no one can argue with preventative measures, but the offering of so-called free prenatal care needs to be carefully thought through before other states or the federal government follow suit.

Janine Labak, Stonington, Conn.

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