Reducing US oil dependency with alternatives

Interesting to see the article "Arctic-oil advocates seize on Mideast crisis" (April 9) about the renewed debate over oil drilling in the Arctic wilderness, across the page from "Bald eagle comeback trail leads to West Coast" about bald eagles recovering from the effects of DDT. Americans are slow to learn how our overconsumption and self-interest in relation to the environment will affect generations to follow.

Let's require double-hulled oil tankers for safe ocean passage, more support for alternative energy sources – especially wind – and higher CAFE gas-mileage standards for vehicles.

So few voices in Congress dare challenge their self-indulgent constituents.
Ann Hymes
St. Michaels, Md.

In the current debate over drilling in the Arctic, the new ploy is toward reducing dependence upon Middle East oil. However, the issue many of us want to see debated is the reduction of dependence on oil – altogether.

As factions split even wider over drilling a pipeline into Alaska, we could, and should, use this opportunity to widen the debate for alternative, non-oil-based energy sources.
Jim Lawer
Sebastopol, Calif.

Living in the comforts of solar power

With new focus on the need for alternative energy sources, it's a good time to be reminded of the success of solar power. About four years ago, I built a solar electric system for our home, and it has worked reliably ever since.

The main advantage is that with all of the electrical shortages – and consequent rate increases – here on the West Coast, my costs have remained unaffected. Inflation and rate increases have no effect on my solar power. Recently, we had a bad storm, leaving people without power for as long as two weeks. Our neighborhood lost power for 10 hours, but our house was fine.

The solar cells use sunlight we don't see. Even on dark, cloudy, stormy days, our solar system is charging the batteries. I write at night and pretty well use up my quota of electricity each night, and it is replaced the next day.

We heat not only our water but our entire house with solar energy as well.
Ralph W. Ritchie
Springfield, Ore.

Taking a hybrid joy ride

Regarding "Why hybrid cars are here to stay" (Opinion, April 4): It was encouraging to read about the fun and marketable side of hybrid cars. It's my hope they become wildly popular.

I own a Honda Insight and have not noticed any sacrifice in driving pleasure whatsoever. Some people would discount my reliability in stating my satisfaction with car performance because I'm a woman, who – although I enjoy driving – is not much of a car nut.

But then there is my dad, the engineer and car enthusiast who just bought a Toyota Prius and quite enjoys driving it.

Another friend who is a big car buff and also drives an Insight finds his hybrid a pleasure to drive.

Everyone I know with a hybrid car appreciates its new technology and thinks these cars are downright fun to drive.
Lisa Zinzow
Milwaukee, Wis.

I have been driving a Toyota Prius for several months and cannot praise it enough. It is comfortable, efficient, has power when needed – getting onto freeways for example – and is so quiet I can enjoy music without having to crank up the volume. Even the price is right.

I'm having trouble understanding American resistance to hybrid technology. What is so comfortable about a gas-guzzling SUV? And, do all those drivers really need that "power" (pardon the pun) trip?
Paula Barrett
Monterey, Calif.

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