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Missing an opportunity for real healthy forests

Dear Editors,

The U.S Senate just missed a golden opportunity to protect communities from wildfire by passing the ill-named Healthy Forest Restoration Act. Of course, this bill will provide minimal protection to communities around Colorado, and the communities at risk from wildfire will have to work extra hard to convince the regional powers-that-be that what little funding the government gives them should go directly to protecting their homes.A0 Indeed, the California fires as well as Colorado fires on nonfederal land would not be stopped by this legislation. Ironically, while (successfully) pushing its Healthy Forests initiative as a way to prevent forest fires, the White House simultaneously denied an emergency request by California Gov. Gray Davis for $430 million to remove dead trees from fire-prone areas. The rejection was issued Oct. 24, six months after the request was made – and just hours before the area burst into flames.

– Udi Lazimy,

via e-mail

The impending natural gas crisis

Dear Editors:

If the news these days leaves you feeling a bit depressed, then do not read The National Petroleum Council’s recent report to Secretary of Energy Spencer Abraham, entitled “Balancing Natural Gas Policy – Fueling the Demands of a Growing Economy.” It presents the results of the most comprehensive assessment of supply and demand of natural gas in the North American market undertaken in many years. Most people, including energy industry leaders, would rather the report and its findings just go away.

Little wonder it has received scant attention – despite Alan Greenspan’s warning last May regarding the potential threat to the U.S. economy posed by tighter-than-expected natural gas supplies.

The results of this report are stunning and warrant urgent attention at the national level. It gives notice of a potentially severe crisis during the next 10 years. The report estimates that natural gas production will be 22 percent below demand by 2015. It also concludes that even if we drill Alaska and pursue very aggressive production methods, we can make up only one-fifth of this short fall.

To quote the report: “ The National Petroleum Council Study demonstrates beyond a shadow of a doubt that the supplies required to meet these projected needs won’t be available.”
If you think that new discoveries will help, not so, the U.S. is the most highly explored and drilled piece of real estate on the planet. Our natural gas fields have been producing the longest and are the first in the world to give out. Unlike oil, natural gas is difficult to transport via boat. So, like it or not, we are stuck with local production.

To the logical observer, that would mean that most of the short fall will result in decreases in consumption through either affluence loss or by increases in efficiency. We can expect some of both. But if we have a choice, it will be much more pleasant if we choose increased efficiency.

If you have a strong stomach, then read the entire report on the National Petroleum Council website, www.npc.org. After you read the report, consider that our natural gas usage exceeds our oil use.

– Robert Warren,

via e-mail




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