01/18/06 — Promising: Positive signs in energy crisis

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Promising: Positive signs in energy crisis

Interesting developments are unfolding.

Virginia approves, within specified safeguards, offshore explorations for natural gas and potential oil deposits.

Increased drilling to determine existence and extent of oil deposits in Alaska could be forthcoming.

There has been an upsurge in interest — and plans — for more and expanded nuclear energy plants.

The developments are positive signals of credible approaches to something resembling potential energy independence for this country.

We hear much of “alternative” energy sources. These include increased use of solar power, energy produced from windmills, more reliance upon “renewable sources” such as wood, and fuel manufactured from farm crops.

Automobile manufacturers in recent years have been producing engines that provide greater gas mileage. And already on the road are hybrid cars that depend on a combination of gasoline and battery power.

But the increase in the number of vehicles and miles traveled probably rivals or outpaces gains in engine efficiency or new sources of energy.

Nuclear power has been regarded by many as the most plausible solution to coping with long-term energy needs. But development of that source has been thwarted for years by almost hysterical opposition based on specters of mushroom-shaped clouds and what critics feared could be disastrous melt-downs or other accidents.

Technology in this country today provides safety in construction and operations of nuclear plants that should satisfy all reasonable concerns for the public safety.

Certainly the agencies that approve and regulate such things can be relied upon to make sure that all potential problems are considered and accounted for in designing, building and operating the facilities.

And the public can rest assured that environmental groups such as the Sierra Club and the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy will be looking over the shoulders of the power companies and regulatory agencies every step of the way.

The same will apply to new energy explorations, whether offshore, or in wilderness areas.

Unless and until there is a spectacular breakthrough in energy creation, we must make the most of the sources we now have and understand. That includes expanding reliance on nuclear energy, locating and utilizing more of the existing oil and gas deposits. And these efforts must be supplemented with solar, wind and water power and more energy-efficient engines and heating and cooling apparatuses.

Saying “no” to more nuclear power, utilization of existing oil and gas deposits and blocking construction of refineries perpetuates and compounds rather than addresses the energy crisis.

Published in Editorials on January 18, 2006 10:05 AM