AMERICA'S ENERGY FUTURE

We're no Iceland

Andy Barnett's June 16 Counterpoint, "Bachmann's thinking on cap-and-trade is polluted," was built squarely on the abuse of statistics. The key evidence Barnett offered that cap-and-trade effectively promotes the use of renewable energy was a comparison between Iceland, which has cap-and-trade and uses renewables for 73 percent of its energy needs, and the United States, which does not have cap-and-trade and uses renewables for only 7 percent of its energy consumption.

Iceland, and in particular greater Reykjavik, where nearly two-thirds of Icelanders live, has abundant geothermal energy readily available from the continuous volcanic activity there. In fact, 89 percent of Iceland's homes are heated with cheap geothermal energy. The closest analogue in the United States would be Yellowstone National Park, but woe to the poor soul who suggests tapping the geothermal energy in Yellowstone!

Personally, I believe the way forward will involve a combination of fossil fuels, renewable energy, nuclear energy and new technologies. Cap-and-trade is a big-government regulatory nightmare that is disruptive to normal market forces, and in no way will transform the United States into an energy Iceland.

GLEN MENZIES, MINNETONKA

To drill is to wait

Before people jump on the "more domestic oil drilling" bandwagon, they should know it takes a minimum of 10 years for the oil to be found, drilled for and extracted, pipelines to be built to carry it to a refinery, refined and, finally, put into a gas tank.

Meanwhile, the last refinery built in the United States was in the 1970s, and it takes another 10 to 15 years to build one. And, if people think it's going to lower gas prices, they're sorely mistaken. Remember, it's the oil companies that do the work and build the new infrastructure. Just how do you think they're going to cover the costs?

No, the big effort should be in finding alternative forms of energy and developing the vehicles that can run on them, not placating oil-hungry people and the politicians who pander to them.

KEVIN DRISCOLL, ST. PAUL

Enabling the addicts

U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann's plan to open up more exploration options to cut fuel prices makes just about as much sense as lowering the price of liquor to cure alcoholism. The truly sad part of this debate is that she may even be right in believing the electorate is that shortsighted.

JEFF JANACEK, MAPLEWOOD

Myopia in Congress

Congress is behaving like Mr. Magoo in the matter of our energy crisis. It is becoming increasingly obvious that oil prices are being manipulated by those who speculate on the prices it will bring in the future. Our lawmakers should pass, and the president should sign, legislation absolutely prohibiting speculation on future prices of petroleum.

Why is it so amazingly difficult for our leadership to understand that technology already exists to convert coal (a commodity we have in incredible volume, and readily available) to gasoline. If it could be used 60-some years ago in the blitzkrieg, surely it can be used now.

We have committed billions to biofuels, but we seem to insist on using food (corn) to produce it. Why not use tobacco, simultaneously disposing of a product poisonous to the human body yet yielding vast potential for energy?

If Congress is so determined that the caribou of the frozen north are more important to national survival than human beings, why not at least allow drilling for oil in the offshore areas the experts assert is so potentially abundant? The same goes for the enormous quantities of oil under North Dakota and Montana.

TED FARRINGTON, RICHFIELD

LOOK AT THE RECORDS

McCain hasn't led

I agree with Brian Davis (Opinion Exchange, June 14) that the environment is a key issue in the 2008 presidential election. It is unfortunate, however, that Davis chose to roll out the greenwashing apparatus in his effusive praise of John McCain's continuing "nonpartisan leadership on environmental stewardship."

Davis neglects to mention McCain's rating by the League of Conservation Voters, the one truly nonpartisan group that ranks legislators on their environmental record. McCain's lifetime voting record as scored by the League of Conservation Voters is 26 out of 100. In contrast, Barack Obama's lifetime score is 96.

To be fair, Obama has a shorter tenure in the Senate than McCain, but when their records are compared for 2007, when both began their presidential campaigns, Obama's score was 67; McCain's was zero.

KURT RUSTERHOLZ, ST. PAUL

DIPLOMACY

It's good for U.S.

How does negotiating equal surrendering ("No comparison," June 14 letters)? When Reagan negotiated with the Soviet Union, was he surrendering? When Israel's Begin talked with Egypt's Sadat, was that surrender?

Talking with our enemies may not guarantee peace, but it is the only way to achieve our ends without violence. Not negotiating, on the other hand, is a guarantee of war and still more war, with no end in sight, weakening our nation and creating ever more enemies and terrorists.

Joyce Denn, Woodbury

Instant runoff in St. Paul

Not council's decision

The June 13 report that "now it's up to council members to decide" whether St. Paul gets to vote on instant-runoff voting (IRV) is wrong.

The Minnesota Legislature laid out the basic process in 1907 with a few modifications over the years. Under current law, there are four ways to get a charter amendment. Three require approval by the voters at an election. One of the three methods goes back to the original 1907 statute.

Under current law, registered St. Paul voters may petition to place the amendment on the ballot and upon successful petition, the Charter Commission shall propose it, and then those amendments "shall be submitted to the qualified voters at a general or special election" (Minnesota Statutes Section 410.12).

In the case of IRV, a petition to amend the charter was circulated by volunteers for the Better Ballot Campaign. More than 7,000 signatures were submitted, and the City Clerk or Ramsey County elections found that the petition signatures met all the statutory requirements.

If the city tries to subvert the will of more than 7,000 petitioners, it is asking for a fight.

GENA BERGLUND, ST. PAUL