LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

EXPORT PROMOTION:

WILL BUSH LISTEN?It was most interesting to read the article "Export Promotion in U.S. Gets Poor Marks" (April 3).

Almost two years ago, the members of the National Coal Council completed a study, at the request of the then Secretary of Energy, John Herrington, entitled, "Improving InternationalCompetitiveness of U.S. Coal and Coal Technologies."

The report found, among many other things, that activities in the area of coal export promotion by states and the federal government in the United States ". . . generally fall short of the initiatives undertaken by some of the major competitors." It also outlines the activities of a number of competing nations, particularly in the areas of transportation and financing. Finally, a number of recommendations are made for actions that could be undertaken by the federal government.

A more recent report of this council, presented to Secretary Herrington in November 1988, recommends federal action for a more coordinated approach for export policy.

In short, it is obvious that there are any number of reports, not all new, which play variations on the same theme. It remains to be seen what effect observations from several different quarters, saying about the same thing, have on the policies of the administration.

James F. McAvoy, Executive Director

National Coal Council Inc., Washington

WRITER SAYS COVERAGE

OF OIL SPILL UNFAIR

Re your coverage of the oil spill in Valdez, Alaska:

The accidental spilling of pure crude is something that is not going to produce the damages alleged in your paper for days on end and certainly, from what I have seen, the environment in a short period of time cleans itself up very well.

The adjectives of gigantic, tremendous, largest in history, pristine environment, unspoiled country all tend to give the average man on the street the impression that this damage is so devastating that it will never be corrected or cleaned up.

I think this is wrong, because the average man has no conception of the ability of the oceans to clean themselves and how very little damage has occurred from big spills in the past.

If we look at some of the large spills that have occurred, we will find that the damage was minimal, if any. One can go to the coast of Brittany or to Cameron, La., where a ship ran aground. After the latter spill, I saw unfounded claims by the hundreds perpetuated against the tanker for damages to nets, fishing vessels and catches that never existed. These false and unwarranted claims were paid because the environmentali sts caused so much publicity that the underwriters and everyone else made no attempt to fight them or make them prove their damages.

The same thing is now happening to Exxon, which is now pictured as the bad guy who made no plans or efforts to have a good crew, who ran a negligent operation. The whole attack on Exxon, in my view, is totally unwarranted.

I consider myself an expert in the prevention and control of crude oil losses. I'm out and around the production platforms and on ships all over the world, and I honestly believe from my close observations that there is never any permanent damage to the environment from an oil spill. Exxon, instead of being blamed, ridiculed and second-guessed, should be given all the support and help it can get for its fine efforts in attempting to clean up this spill.

R.J. Underhill, Captain

R.J. Underhill & Associates Inc.

Port Arthur, Texas

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