LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

Message on Fuels

Hits Nail on HeadYour recent editorial, "Keep Fuel Options Open," Feb. 18, hit the nail on the head. This country must ensure that it has the ability to switch easily

from one fuel to another should OPEC repeat its political blackmail or if the price of oil goes through the roof again.

Since the life of electric generating units can be anywhere from 30 to 35 years, a lot can happen to supplies and prices of fuels over that time. To lock in one type of fuel is to play Middle East roulette. Retaining the "coal capability" requirement of the Fuel Use Act can provide that needed flexibility and ensure against a repeat of past OPEC-induced crises.

As you so aptly pointed out, "Prudence demands that we keep our options open." This kind of energy policy is simply good planning and good sense. It is also sound public policy.

Let's hope those in the Congress who are about to deal with the issue got the message from your well written editorial.

Carl E. Bagge, President National Coal Association Washington, D.C.

Let Markets Work

In Oil Industry

My response to your excellent editorial, "Keep Fuel Options Open," was a fervent 'Amen". I mentally underlined your cogent reference to the grab bag of laws passed during the energy "crisis," of which you said "the potential for mischief is great."

Let us not forget this tragic mischief-making potential as Congress begins anew its debate over an onerous and deleterious "oil import tax," which while providing short-term economic assistance to the oil patch, has the mischief-making potential for playing havoc with: (1) the competitive position of the U.S. industry; (2) the already depressed U.S. farmer; and (3) consumers and commerce in general throughout the Northeast and Middle Atlantic states.

As Secretary of Energy Herrington stated a few weeks ago, "the federal government has no role in forcing the price of oil to an artificial level." Governmental intervention in the marketplace hasn't worked in farm supports over the past 50 years; neither was such intervention beneficial in the natural gas industry during the 1960s and 1970s. It won't be beneficial to the American public if import taxes are enacted in the oil industry during the 1980s either. As your editorial stated: "let the markets work." Once again, Amen.

James R. Wells, Vice President, Governmental Relations Whaleco Brooklyn, N.Y.

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