Develop the oil and natural gas resources America already has

As John Hughes articulated in his Feb. 8 Opinion column, "To reduce oil intake, Bush's energy plan can only do so much": America's oil and natural gas resources were ignored not only in the State of the Union address, but also in the president's proposed budget released last week. The White House's federal budget proposal calls for "zeroing out" the Department of Energy's oil and natural gas programs. But the best medicine for breaking the nation's foreign addiction is the development of the abundant oil and natural gas resources we have here at home.

The estimated undiscovered oil offshore (east and west coasts, as well as the Gulf of Mexico) could replace current levels of oil imports from the Persian Gulf for the next 59 years. However, 90 percent of the offshore resources is off-limits, including 300 trillion cubic feet of natural gas and 50 billion barrels of crude oil. Clean natural gas in the Rocky Mountains, which is currently off-limits, could heat 50 million US homes for the next 60 years.

Today, 65 percent of the energy Americans use comes from oil and natural gas. There will be a 34 percent increase in US demand for natural gas by 2025. America's energy problems should provide enough motivation for Congress and the president to form a consensus on a clear-cut, inclusive, and long-term solution. Ignoring the great resources we already have will do nothing but prolong America's energy hangover.
Michael Linn
Mr. Linn is chairman of the Independent Petroleum Association of America in Washington, D.C., and president and CEO of Linn Energy, LLC, in Pittsburgh.

From rote learning to critical thinking

Regarding the Feb. 9 article, "In Egyptian schools, a push for critical thinking": Egypt is not the only country that is moving its schools away from rote learning to critical thinking. Despite their renowned educational systems, Japan, Korea, and Singapore are also trying to foster individuality and creativity in classrooms.

The impetus for this fundamental change is the realization among political and business leaders that what worked so well in the past to help their nations rapidly develop economically will not serve in a high-tech world. As a result, they're beginning to look closely at the Americanized style of teaching and learning, which is more innovative.

The irony is lost on American reformers who are jettisoning what other countries admire most about our schools. That's a lesson we'll regret years from now. But by then, it will be too late to undo the damage done by converting classrooms into test preparation factories to boost our rankings on tests of international competition.
Walt Gardner
Mr. Gardner taught for 28 years in the Los Angeles Unified School District and was a lecturer in the UCLA Graduate School of Education.
Los Angeles

Science education needs full US support

Regarding the Feb. 10 article, "Can Bush make America more competitive in math and science?": I see the religious culture of many US leaders as one reason that US students have fallen behind. When fundamental aspects of science are denigrated, it discourages students from taking science seriously. By backing intelligent design, denying global warming, and prohibiting stem cell research, it seems as if the government has returned science to pre-Renaissance days when many scientists were treated as heretics. If President Bush and others want more scientists, they need to provide more than monetary support.
Carl Sheffield
Spring, Texas

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