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The Texas OBSERVER The Texas Observer Publishing Co., 1978 Ronnie Dugger, Publisher Vol. 70, No. 24 December 15, 1978 Incorporating the State Observer and the East Texas Demo crat. which in turn incorporated the Austin Forum-Advocate. EDITOR ASSOCIATE EDITORS EDITOR AT LARGE Jim Hightower Linda Rocawich Eric Hartman Ronnie Dugger PRODUCTION MANAGERS: Susan Reid, Beth Epstein ASSISTANT EDITORS: Vicki Vaughan, Bob Sindermann Jr. STAFF ASSISTANTS: Margot Beutler, Beverly Palmer, Harris Worcester, Larry Zinn, Jamie Murphy, Lisa Spann, Helen Jardine, Viki Florence, Karen White, Charles Lohrmann, Martha Owen CONTRIBUTORS: Kaye Northcott, Jo Clifton, Warren Burnett, Jack Hopper, Stanley Walker, Dan Hubig, Ben Sargent, Berke Breathed, Eje Wray, Roy Hamric, Thomas D. Bleich, Ave Bonar, Jeff Danziger, Lois Rankin, Maury Maverick Jr., Bruce Cory; John Henry Faulk, Chandler Davidson, Molly Ivins, Ralph Yarborough, Laura Richardson, Tim Mahoney, John Spragens Jr., Sheila R. Taylor, Doug Harlan, David Guarino, Susan Lee, Bob Clare, Keith Dannemiller BUSINESS STAFF: Cliff Olofson, Ricky Cruz ADVERTISING: Rhett Beard A journal of free voices We will serve no group or party but will hew hard to the truth as we find it and the right as we see it. We are dedicated to the whole truth, to human values above all interests, to the rights of humankind as the foundation of democracy; we will take orders from none but our own conscience, and never will we overlook or misrepresent the truth to serve the interests of the powerful or cater to the ignoble in the human spirit. The editor has exclusive control over the editorial. policies and contents of the Observer. None of the other people who are associated with the enterprise shares this responsibility with him. Writers are responsible for their own work, but not for anything they have not themselves written, and in publishing them the editor does not necessarily imply that he agrees with them because this is a journal of free voices. Published by Texas Observer Publishing Co., biweekly except for a three-week interval between issues twice a year, in January and July; 25 issues per year. Second-class postage paid at Austin, Texas. Publication no. 541300. years, $36. Foreign, except APO/FPO, $1 additional per year. Airmail, bulk orders, and group rates on request. Microfilmed by Microfilming Corporation of America, 21 Hanistown Road, Glen Rock, N.J. 07452. Postmaster: Send form 3579 to The Texas Observer. “430′.744-: Editorial and Business Offices 600 West 7th Street, Austin, Texas 78701 Cover photo: John Spragens Jr. That lucky old sun got nothin’ to do but roll around heaven all day By Ray Reece First of two parts Austin Twenty-six years ago President Harry Truman was handed an exhaustive assessment of the policy choices America faced in the crucial area of energy development. The report had been compiled by a blue-ribbon panel called the Paley Commission. It focused on the question of whether the United States, in preparing for the inevitable depletion of inexpensive fossil fuels, should commit its research and development apparatus to the power of the atom or the power of the sun. The commission unequivocally favored the sun, contending that a serious R&D program could easily provide up to half the nation’s non-transportation energy needs by the turn of the centurywithout the risks and enormous capital requirements of nuclear power. But industry and government did not listen, and a quartercentury later, the nation is paying for that shortsightedness. The price of dwindling oil and gas reserves continues to rise uncontrollably, adding international fiscal chaos to the problems of polluted air and water. The favored nuclear industry, meanwhile, staggers toward financial collapse under the burdens of unresolved safety considerations, perplexing waste disposal problems and shocking cost overruns, and the nation’s utilities are shifting warily toward a five-fold expansion of coal-fired power plants. Do something right for a change Now, the solar choice is before the public again, and there is considerably more folly and a clearer hazard in rejecting it this time than there was in 1952, when the “Atoms for Peace” program of the budding electro-nuclear establishment triumphed over the common-sense wisdom of the Paley Commission.