Letters to the Editor

Oil being depleted

To the Editor:

I would like to comment on your 3 May Editorial concerning the need for increasing refinery capacity. You seem to have overlooked a few relevant issues. Several of these were raised at the 34th Symposium of the New York section of the American Physical Society held April 23 and 24 at SUNY, Oswego.

M. King Hubbert of the U.S. Geological Survey, in his presentation on "World Energy Resources", made two points impressively. The world, including the United States, has only a finite amount of nonrenewable recourses. According to a projection Hubbert made in 1962, and verified by the results during the ensuing period, the U.S. has passed its maximum in petroleum reserves. That is, we have now used more than we have remaining. The Alaskan oil fields will extend the national reserve somewhat, however, they are also quite finite.

The point being, fossil fuel reserves are finite and non-renewable. We have reached and passed our maximum in oil reserves and may not be in a too dissimilar situation with respect to our coal reserves in the near future. These natural reserves took many millions of years to form but we could completely deplete them within a few decades.

A third point is that we Americans have been an energy wasteful society. We have always had a plentiful supply of raw materials and we have been "dollar wise", throwing away and wasting, rather than conserving. This is why we are importing more and more crude oil, among other resources.

World resources are likewise both finite and nonrenewable. We have not yet reached the peak for total world petroleum resources. However, the OPEC nations have realized these consequences and are attempting to cope with this situation for their future survival.

The key to our immediate energy problem, as echoed over and over at the Symposium, is conservation. Our energy demand will, increase approximately 17 percent over the next two decades, due to our youth entering our society. This is without any per capita increase in energy use.

In light of these considerations, I do not believe that we really require increased refinery capacity per se. Some refineries may be badly in need of repair and not most efficient. These units should be replaced and relocated to accommodate an increased population demand and to expedite distribution more effectively.

New England, with its high population density and intense industrialization, must accept oil refineries to accommodate its needs. It is not justifiable for us to waste the world's remaining natural resources in the same manner we have wasted our own in the past. We are still in a favorable position to make our most significant contribution to the world as we can reduce needless waste and employ alternate energy sources, thus conserving the remaining fossil resources for the future. We can not continue to selfishly satisfy our own immediate demands with total disregard for the consequence nationally or world wide.

Axxxxx J. DUBRExxx , Xxxxx May 1976