- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Solving the ‘energy crisis’

Solving our energy price crisis requires moving sharply away from reliance on imported energy. However, your Friday editorial “A natural gas crisis,” which accurately sees increased natural gas supply as the solution to high prices, misguidedly highlights increased imports as the silver-bullet solution. Further, the editorial fails to explore the ramifications of once again depending on other nations for our energy supplies.

While liquefied natural gas (LNG) certainly has a larger role to play in supplying a growing demand for natural gas, we must pause before we commit to policies that again place our country on a path of dependence — this time with LNG. In April, several gas-rich nations met and agreed to work together to seek what they called a “fair price” for LNG exports. Facing the prospect of another cartel in the mold of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries for natural gas is alarming and irresponsible. Also, the argument in favor of increasing our energy imports ignores, in a growing global economy, that we will compete for energy with other countries. This competition will include central governments that do not feel the price constraints of a free market.

The American Public Gas Association advocates a domestic supply solution based on energy independence. We applaud The Washington Times for calling for natural gas production access in onshore and offshore areas now off-limits. Lands and water now closed to production by moratoriums or regulation represent almost a 10-year supply at the current demand rate (about 22 Tcf). However, if we focus only on these conventional supplies, future natural gas prices paid by U.S. consumers will continue to be dictated by the actions of foreign governments and multinational corporations.

Coal was king in the 19th century, oil in the 20th, and natural gas could be the successor in the 21st. However, the only road to true energy independence with natural gas requires the federal government and private industry to invest in the geological studies and production technology research and development necessary to bring methane hydrates into our gas supply. Methane hydrates are the key to an abundant supply of natural gas and could serve as the final bridge from fossil fuels to renewables. The amount of carbon bound in gas hydrates is conservatively estimated to total twice the amount of carbon found in all known fossil fuels on Earth. Conservative estimates are that about 200,000 Tcf of natural gas, in hydrates, are located within the United States and offshore. This represents well over 9,000 years of current demand.

Just imagine the impact such an abundant, domestic and clean natural gas supply resource would have on our economy and environment. Although abundant hydrates may not be attractive to some entities that either buy, sell and profit from the current high natural gas prices or that have made significant investments overseas in LNG, it is the necessary, appropriate and long-term remedy for both consumers and our economy.

BERT KALISCH

President and CEO

American Public Gas Association

Washington

Day laborers in Gaithersburg

So, Gaithersburg Mayor Sidney Katz “has decided that the best approach to opening a day-laborer shelter for immigrant workers” is to apologize for excluding residents in the plans and then simply move the shelter to another location in the city? (“Mayor’s apology followed by plea,” Metropolitan, Saturday.) The mayor is a little confused. We don’t need a welcome center for illegal aliens anywhere in Gaithersburg.

I have lived in Gaithersburg for 15 years, and I have had much worse experiences than finding someone showering in my driveway (as described recently by another resident).

I have been threatened as I have walked my dog in a park down the street from the first proposed hiring site, by individuals who apparently were angered by my presence in a public park that they prefer to use as a public toilet.

I walked out onto my patio one evening recently to find two men using the area behind my apartment building for the same purpose. When I announced that I was calling the police, they responded with what I assume to be insults (they weren’t in English) and obscene gestures.

I deal with harassment almost every day as I walk to and from the MARC train station. Several weeks ago, I was awakened in the middle of the night by the sound of someone breaking into a utility room just on the other side of my bedroom wall and mere feet from where I was sleeping.

Turns out several people had been more or less living there, as evidenced by the accumulation of beer bottles and other trash. That’s getting way too close for comfort. Why would anyone want to invite more of this?

Rewarding illegal activity only encourages more illegal activity. A day-labor hiring center that makes no distinction between legal and illegal workers sends a message to illegals that Gaithersburg does not care if a worker is in violation of U.S. immigration law, and that will make the city a magnet for illegal aliens.

Day-laborer centers benefit the unscrupulous employers who are breaking the law by hiring illegals while at the same time undercutting the earning potential and opportunities for some of the country’s neediest workers.

In other areas of the country where day-labor hiring centers have been established, the number of workers seeking to find jobs through these centers has increased continuously so that pressure has been created to establish still more such sites. By accommodating this plan, the city is creating conditions whereby the population of illegal workers will simply expand and generate further pressures.

Creating an environment that encourages illegal behavior and contributes to a steadily diminishing quality of life for legal residents of Gaithersburg solves nothing. We need to work to preserve the city and its history, not destroy it.

By the way, those funding and managing day-labor hiring sites are legally accountable if they can be shown to have knowledge that hiring center users or beneficiaries include illegal aliens or other unauthorized workers. One thing concerned residents can do is document with photographs the illegal activity and those involved in it — both laborers and employers.

LEONE BOLLINGER

Gaithersburg

No ‘cultural hurdle’ for Turkey

The potential divisions between the European Union and Turkey asserted in the United Press International story “Culture poses hurdle in EU talks” (World, Oct. 12) are in reality nonexistent or, at most, inconsequential.

Contrary to writer Roland Flamini’s claim, Turkey’s political environment does not conflict with an “emphatically secular” EU. In fact, the debate over Turkey’s accession has centered more on whether the EU is too much a “Christian club,” not too secular. The reality is that both Turkey and its European partners have struck a similar balance in preserving secularism while ensuring freedom of expression — with both Christian Democratic parties and their Turkish analogs accepted as part of Europe’s political landscape. If anything, Turkey’s secularism reinforces democracy both at home and abroad.

Historical animosities should not prejudice our future EU prospects. If this were the case, the EU likely would not exist because its members’ histories are replete with bilateral and regional conflicts. Besides, NATO’s welcoming of Turkey as a valued member in 1952 forever overcame any such concerns.

While Turkey’s EU accession negotiations may pose challenges for both sides, those cited in Mr. Flamini’s column will most assuredly not be among them. By the way, somebody should tell Mr. Flamini that the weekend holiday in Turkey is Saturday and Sunday.

OGUZHAN ERTUGRUL

Counselor

Embassy of Turkey

Washington

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