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Energy: 'Two Wrongs Don't Make a Right'

March 04, 2001

* "Gas Pipelines: Next Big Issue" (editorial, Feb. 26) presciently describes how the shortage of gas transmission facilities could hamper efforts to resolve the state's energy crisis but then stumbles by referring to small hydro plants as an attractive form of renewable energy.

Hydro facilities can be small-scale but their adverse impacts are often not. While only generating nine megawatts of power, PG&E's Potter Valley Project deprives the upper Eel River of 98% of its summer flow, all but destroying one of the state's largest salmon populations. Small dams on Battle and Butte creeks provide comparatively tiny amounts of hydroelectricity, but block access to some of the best remaining spawning habitat for the endangered winter-run Chinook salmon. Southern California Edison dewaters Mill and Lytle creeks in the San Bernardino Mountains to generate less than three megawatts of power. Meanwhile, it is estimated that over 1,000 megawatts can be realized by simply adjusting thermostats up by two degrees during summer heat waves.

It is difficult to accept the idea of harming more rivers in exchange for megawatts that amount to pocket change in our overall deficit.

JAMES HONEY

Program Assistant, California

Hydropower Reform Coalition

Berkeley

*

Bill Richardson is absolutely right (Commentary, Feb. 26): The Bush administration must stop using the energy crisis "to try to promote oil development in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, especially in light of the fact that oil fuels a minimal percentage of the region's power plants." The energy crisis is no excuse for destroying a unique natural treasure like the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. The "energy crisis" resulted from the failure of deregulation; environmental destruction is not going to make the situation better. As Mom always said, two wrongs don't make a right!

JESSICA NUSBAUM

Newport Beach

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