Different roads to energy independence

Vice President Cheney wants to revive nuclear power ("Nuclear power, long dormant, undergoes a nascent revival," April 27). But if nuclear power is the answer, what is the question? The real question is: What is the safest, cheapest, and cleanest way to meet our current and future energy challenges?

Energy efficiency improvements now provide our country with 25 percent of our needed energy services - saving more than $100 billion annually.

Many experts believe we can eliminate another 25 to 50 percent of wasted energy consumption in our vehicles, lighting industries, businesses, and homes. This means using technologies now on the shelf, not changing lifestyles.

Furthermore, a hybrid of renewable technologies like wind, biomass, and various forms of solar power are cost effective and ready today. For example, wind-power "farms" are cropping up all over the country.

Nuclear power had its moment in the 1970s. It cost us tens of billions of dollars in bailouts and gobbled up nearly 60 percent of all US energy research and development spending since 1948.

Energy efficiency and renewable energy supply jobs, a cleaner environment, and an energy system our parents can afford and our children can live with.

Scott Denman Washington Executive Director

Safe Energy Communication Council

It is ironic in this day of electricity shortages and skyrocketing energy costs that the media seek comment from environmental clubs and so-called public interest groups on the energy situation.

Have they forgotten that these very organizations bullied public service commissions, elected officials, and even the energy companies into saying "no" to new power-plant, transmission-line, and refinery construction these last 20 years, introducing "rolling blackouts" into the working lexicon of Californians?

How will you respond the next time you answer the door and someone from an environmental organization asks you to donate to stop a local utility from constructing a power plant?How do you think Californians will respond in the future?

Dan Kane Las Vegas Former president, Council on Energy Independence

Our country is so dependent on foreign oil imports that we are in danger of being crippled if the oil supply were to be cut off.

There is an alternative source of energy: atomic power. Atomic power plants are no more dangerous than coal, gas, or oil plants. If we include the dangers of working in coal mines and oil fields, atomic plants are safer. And they are nonpolluting.

Countries like France and Japan use atomic energy to good advantage. We should certainly consider atomic power to alleviate our energy shortage.

David G. Parshall Lady Lake, Fla.

Regarding your May 10 article "Can the SUV nation conserve?": The short answer is: We had better. While we pride ourselves on technological expertise and entrepreneurial prowess, we must come to terms with the fact that we consume more energy and goods per capita than any other nation, by far.

The energy shortages of the 1970s pushed conservation efforts to the top of our nation's agenda.

But our continued wasteful and self-indulgent behavior proves that the lesson has not been sufficiently learned.

What we need most now is firm leadership on the conservation front. However, since President Bush seems reluctant to give it, let it come from us. Detroit won't manufacture gas-guzzling SUVs if there is no demand for them.

Linda Katz Huntington Beach, Calif.

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(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Monitor

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