Energetic responses to Bush plan

Regarding your May 18 editorial "Energy 105," what seems to be lost on most Americans is the real danger of nuclear waste. The fact is that the half life of this stuff - the amount of time it takes for it to "decay" to half of it's original activity - is roughly 100,000 years.

There are over 100 fuel rods in every fuel bundle, and dozens of bundles in every reactor core. Not one reactor in this country has enough space in the spent-fuel pool to store all its spent fuel, even for the reactor's 35-year life span. Nuclear power is the most idiotic thing humans have done to date on this planet, and only a complete idiot would propose we expand its use any further. There are too many other ways to boil water.

Joe Sheridan Siletz, Ore.

As I understand your editorial, you find three points in Bush's energy proposal that, as you say, "raised red flags."First: Recycling spent uranium into plutonium just adds to safety questions about nuclear power. Second: Drilling for oil in the Arctic refuge needs proof that it won't upset the area's unique natural balance. And third: Taking away states' authority over power lines to create a national grid upsets the federal-state power balance. If this is all there is to complain about, I'm pretty happy with President Bush's energy production and conservation proposal.I find your points disingenuous, and nothing more than a knee-jerk reaction to uniqueness.

D.A. Thompson Harlan, Iowa

Way back in 1974, I heard a lot of loose talk about an "energy crisis" and the need for the US to break free of its dependence on "foreign oil." The crisis was real enough, but the congressional response had nothing to do with "energy independence." Almost before you could say "fill 'er up, high test," we were drilling for oil in Alaska, building a pipeline to Prudhoe Bay, and pumping domestic crude oil to the lower 48. The crude oil went mostly to Japan and California, while the rest of the nation continued to buy crude from the same old sources: OPEC nations. Seems to me I've seen this movie before. I'm guessing what happens to the piddling drop of oil that the industry sharpies pump from ANWR. It surely won't make us "independent" of anything but our senses.

Jon R. Koppenhoefer Springfield, Ohio

I liked the solution for SUVs in your piece about the Bush-Cheney energy proposals: a surcharge/tax. My idea: those vehicles that would not meet higher fuel efficiency requirements could have a large tax added to them, which would go toward reducing our national debt and increasing research into renewable energy resources (solar is the biggest - it's free, and waiting for us to use it). This would give manufacturers incentives to produce more efficient vehicles and buyer incentives to think twice before saddling themselves with gas-guzzlers.

Richard Nantelle Winston-Salem, N.C.

But who's counting?

Your May 3 article "Heading to the city ever since civilization began" examines important long-term demographic trends. However, your population estimate for the US understated the case considerably. The Census Bureau's medium projection for 2050 is over 403 million (not 350 million). Worse, if the US continues to add population as in the last decade (13 percent, an increase of nearly 33 million since 1990), America will be overwhelmed with well over half a billion people.

We cannot begin to imagine that bleak America of 2050 - one with nearly double today's population. Almost all of that growth will be caused by immigration, and is therefore preventable with sensible public policy. Much that we value about our society will be sacrificed on the altar of growth-at-any-cost, if there is not a course correction.

Brenda Walker Berkeley, Calif.

The Monitor welcomes your letters and opinion articles. All submissions are subject to editing. Letters must include your name, mailing address and phone number. Mail to One Norway St., Boston, MA 02115, fax to 617-450-2317, or e-mail oped@csps.com.

(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Monitor

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