- The Washington Times - Saturday, March 11, 2000

Clearly, standards for objective research and commentary have slipped at The Washington Times if it allows such shoddy pieces of work as Kenneth Smith's March 9 column to be published ("Friends of OPEC: Clinton-Gore help boost gas, oil prices," Op-Ed).

It is so full of errors, omissions and inaccuracies that I don't know where to start. But here's a few:

m High gas prices "could force consumers into smaller, gas-sipping econoboxes that go further on a tank of gas. That downsizing would put their safety at greater risk in auto accidents a grim barter in blood for oil."

America's infantile obsession with large cars is reflected in a significantly worse road safety record than most European countries.

m One might even argue that oil exploration in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge "would be good for the environment since it would make the United States less reliant on the kind of tanker traffic that occasionally results in an Exxon Valdez-like oil spill.

Well, one could argue that, if one was a blinkered moron. Um, do we recall where the Exxon Valdez spill occurred?

m The Clinton administration "has set Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Carol Browner off on a legal jihad against coal-fired Southern and Midwestern utilities. Their emissions allegedly threaten downwind areas with acid rain, deforestation, Christian fundamentalism and so on."

Do you have shares in these companies or what? These companies broke the law, and have caused far more harm to human health (which Mr. Smith was so concerned about only a few paragraphs ago) than their fines will ever recoup.

m "Alas windmills have turned out to be much more efficient at killing endangered species and other birds who blunder into them than producing power."

Oops. So windmills aren't all of the answer, but they are practical, despite minimal research (unlike the billions wasted by governments on nuclear power research). And naturally, you forgot to mention energy conservation.

Do some genuine research next time, instead of relying on trite put-downs that serve to educate no one.

No, I'm not a bleeding-heart greenie, just someone interested in saving the lifestyle that we now enjoy, which is pretty good, but it isn't going to last.

WILLIAM BLACKBURN

Research policy analyst

Flora and Fauna Directorate

Parks Flora and Fauna

Department of Natural Resources and Environment

East Melbourne, Australia

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