Nuclear's Role in the National Energy Strategy

Regarding Sen. Joseph Biden's opinion-page article "Phony Claims in Support of Nuclear Power," April 9: President Bush will do the nation another great service if he succeeds in restoring growth in our use of nuclear power. Despite all the hysterical - and generally unsupported - claims to the contrary, nuclear power has a safety record no other industry can match. Our nuclear-plant licensing process is so complex and vulnerable to misuse by project opponents as to be laughable, if it weren't such a serious impediment to the national interest.

After some independent study of sources of suspected atmospheric warming contributors like carbon dioxide, even Senator Biden might be surprised to find his views of nuclear power changed - for the better.

John Dendahl, Santa Fe, N.M.

It is difficult to understand why the administration would propose approval of incomplete reactor designs; elimination of public review of reactor construction quality; 20-year extensions of operating licenses for reactors with known safety hazards; elimination of many of the checks that are now in place to protect public health and safety. It is difficult to understand why the administration would claim that other nations warmly embrace nuclear power, when the contrary is true. And it is difficult to understand claims that dependence on oil imports will decline as nuclear power grows, when nuclear cannot replace oil in meeting peak electrical demands for short periods.

We should all agree with the article's closing remark: "The administration's unsupported and misguided proposals on nuclear energy should be scrapped."

Wayne A. Lawson, Bellevue, Wash.

The sad fact is that the untapped potential of renewable and clean energies will not be cultivated until multinational corporations can control and profit from them. Somehow, I can't quite conjure up an image of a solar cartel. Sean O'Neil, Brooklyn, N.Y.

Senator Biden fails to recognize that nuclear power was one of the main factors in reducing our dependence on oil-fired plants for electricity from more than 16 percent in 1972 to about 4 percent last year. His opposition to nuclear-plant licensing changes is shortsighted; the changes would increase public participation in the safety hearings on plant designs before construction could begin. There would be no shortcuts. However, once an issue is settled, it could not be reopened unless new and significa nt information demanded it. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission would remain responsible for inspections during construction and operation, ensuring that any concern raised by plant workers or the public will be carefully considered.

A. David Rossin, Los Altos Hills, Calif.

America's neglect of education While I enjoyed reading the opinion-page article "Facing Real Issues in '92," April 8, I don't believe the problems of American industry can be solved simply by restricting imports. The areas of research and development have been woefully neglected by American industry.

However, I agree wholeheartedly with what the author says about the "disgraceful educational system" in this country. This system violates the Constitution, since it does not provide an adequate education to all its citizens.

In my opinion it is the duty of the federal government to provide equal funding for all schools, regardless of whether they are located in rich or poor neighborhoods. A good education provides youngsters with the means to become useful members of society, and to resist the temptations of drug abuse and street life.

An improvement in our educational system would surely reduce the need for many social expenses - such as rehabilitation programs and unemployment payments. But it appears that our politicians prefer to lead a herd of followers who have not learned to think independently.

Rose Arndt, Waynesville, N.C.

As a rule, the articles in your opinion pages help to resolve many doubts and questions confronting your readers. Unfortunately, "Facing Real Issues in '92" has only left me with two burning queries: 1. Where has James J. Treires been for the past 11 years?

2. How do we get his name on the ticket?

Mary J. Hoffman, Framingham, Mass.

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