Letter: Multi-faceted approach neededThe “Democrat” [sic] Party, according to Bob Tatreau (Letters, Bulletin, Aug. 20), is committing "energy suicide.” Dr. Tatreau advocates more drilling, more refineries and more nuclear power, with a particular emphasis on nuclear generators which, he claims, the Democrats are denying us. He is wrong.
The “Democrat” [sic] Party, according to Bob Tatreau (Letters, Bulletin, Aug. 20), is committing "energy suicide.” Dr. Tatreau advocates more drilling, more refineries and more nuclear power, with a particular emphasis on nuclear generators which, he claims, the Democrats are denying us. He is wrong.
Senator Obama has, in fact, called for expanded use of nuclear energy, with the proviso that we must first consider issues like the safe disposal of nuclear waste and, of particular importance in this age of terrorism, the security of nuclear materials.
Nuclear energy, moreover, is not the panacea Dr. Tatreau suggests it is.
The government currently subsidizes the industry both directly, through R&D funding and low cost insurance, and indirectly, by allowing electric companies to pass cost overruns onto consumers; historically, the government has spent ten times more on nuclear subsidies than it has on renewable energy sources like wind and solar, which Dr. Tatreau dismisses as "whimsical" resources.
Clearly, he does not understand the technology.
Large solar panel arrays can be erected in the American southwestern deserts, where excess energy generated during daylight hours can be stored for use at night.
In addition, scientists are looking into placing solar panels in orbit, where the sun's energy can be tapped continuously.
As for the GOP mantra, "drill, drill, drill", I would remind Dr. Tatreau that our own Department of Energy estimates that we have approximately three percent of the world's oil reserves.
Currently, we use about 25 percent of the world's oil, so, even if our usage were to remain stable, we could not drill our way out of dependence on foreign oil.
More significantly, oil is not bought and sold in local markets, it is a global commodity, which is priced according to global supply and demand.
With growing energy demands in developing countries like China and India, even if we extracted every drop of oil within the United States, we would reduce the cost of gasoline just a few cents on the gallon in a couple of decades.
The U.S. Department of Energy states that conservation measures, like increasing CAFE standards for cars, and, yes, properly inflating tires and keeping cars in good condition, will save more oil than the United States could extract from increased offshore drilling.
Clearly, the only way to achieve energy independence is by taking a multi-faceted approach, with an emphasis on energy efficiency and conservation, renewable sources like wind, solar and geothermal, and, perhaps, some increase in nuclear energy if we can do it safely.
An approach that ignores renewable energy sources and nuclear safety and that depends on finite oil supplies, leaving future generations a world depleted of natural resources and despoiled by pollution, nuclear waste and global climate change, is the true energy suicide.