Bush Is Off Mark in Focusing Energy Policy on Oil, Nuclear Power Instead of Alternatives

Is stepping up the search for oil and calling for increased nuclear power really the best the Administration can do for an "energy policy," as reported in "Bush Plan Leaves Alternative Energy Out in Cold" (Feb. 21)?

How can George Bush even think about tearing apart the Alaskan Wildlife Refuge so that this country can remain addicted to cheap oil. And nukes? What meatloaf-for-brains would condone nuclear power when nobody has yet figured out how to dispose of the waste safely and efficiently?

Conservation, mass transportation and renewable resources must be the cornerstones of any respectable and realistic energy policy. We should start by taxing vehicles by weight and horsepower so there will be a real incentive to buy fuel-thrifty, four-cylinder cars; the fleet average for auto makers should be at least 45 to 50 miles per gallon.

High-speed rail corridors between urban centers such as San Francisco and Los Angeles, Midwestern municipalities and the East Coast cities could change the way Americans travel, significantly reducing plane and car trips--with an attendant reduction in smog and the use of oil.

Much more attention also needs to be focused on renewable sources of energy. For a fraction of the money that has been wasted on the nuclear-generation debacle, solar cells could be developed to generate electricity cost-competitively. Tidal and wind power could round out a menu for smogless, safe and environmentally friendly electricity generation.

I don't think Bush will merit his self-serving moniker the "environmental President" if he continues to drive America to a smoggy, toxin-soaked future.

CHRIS FORD

Santa Monica

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