To the Editor:
The increase in gasoline prices reflects the instability in the Middle East and attendant speculation in the oil markets. We need to address the huge run-up in oil prices with comprehensive policies designed to provide solutions to our energy consumption problems. Unfortunately, past administrations have failed us.
The Obama administration should continue to promote democracy in North Africa and the Middle East, and hopefully democratic reforms in these countries will provide some stability in the region and thereby help decrease speculation in the oil markets.
The U.S. has to increase domestic oil production, including oil derived from our Western U.S. oil shale and Alaskan oil deposits; build new refineries; build nuclear power plants meeting stringent U.S. specifications, including strict siting requirements; increase power production from natural gas and alternative energy sources, e.g. biomass, wind and solar; promote public transportation; and conserve energy in our homes, businesses, vehicles and in our travels. Another way to conserve gasoline consumption is to decrease the speed limits to 55 mph or 60 mph on our expressways, and we have to enforce these limits. Unfortunately many states have increased speed limits to between 70 mph and 85 mph. Some studies have shown going from 75 mph to 55 mph will reduce gasoline consumption by 33 percent.
U.S. nuclear plants should be designed to withstand a 9.0 earthquake, tornadoes, category five hurricanes and floods, and have battery and diesel generator back-up to provide power to coolant water for at least one month. Existing plants can only withstand a 7.5 earthquake and have four hours battery back-up; and spent fuel rods are currently stored on site. A reprocessing system must be established to neutralize or reuse these fuel rods.
We need the Obama administration to provide some leadership and implement a comprehensive energy strategy.
Donald A. Moskowitz