How long are we to be besieged with proposals to develop alternative fuels such as that by Sen. Jay Rockefeller and Rep. Phil Sharp {"Save Oil, Fight Ozone Pollution," op-ed, July 1} without follow-through with results?

For over two decades, since the New York City blackout of November 1965, we've heard appeals by the executive and legislative branches for new alternative energy sources to protect this country from the menace of what is characterized as an imminent oil embargo.

When OPEC threatens, our do-gooders respond with cries for action. Presidents, including the incumbent, seize the opportunity to beef up their state-of-the-union messages with promises of conservation and nuclear power programs. And the folks in Congress talk, talk, talk of coal conversion projects and increased fill of the strategic oil reserve.

But predictably, as OPEC backs off and oil flows, budgets for alternative fuel projects are cut, authorized projects are canceled, and the cries for action cease. Taxpayer dollars are wasted, and progress is stymied.

It appears that Congress, with the exception of a few pork-barrel projects, doesn't have the foresight to look beyond its political nose and prepare for an economy without imported oil. And any worthwhile projects that do get to the White House are soon demolished by the budget ax. JAMES D. LYMAN Kensington

I really can't believe what Sen. Rockefeller and Rep. Sharp are proposing. They want the use of methanol (wood alcohol) as a motor fuel to be given two huge incentives: first, that the federal fuel tax on it be lowered; second, that auto manufacturers be allowed to inflate fuel economy ratings for methanol-fueled cars.

I have no doubt that synthetic fuels such as methanol will play a role in America's energy future. However, in order to ensure that the best and most economical alternative fuel is chosen, it is vital that all alternative fuels have an equal competitive position in the marketplace. What if Congress decides now that methanol is best, and five years from now it turns out that hydrogen would have been better? By then it will be too late to change.

The government's attempts to fiddle with the free market have always resulted in disaster. In the 1960s, the problem was agricultural overproduction. Now the government spends several billion dollars every year buying surplus crops, and we still have overproduction. And if I remember correctly the government's synthetic fuels program finally went bankrupt just a year or so ago, after consuming millions in taxpayers' money.

The last thing this country needs now is for the government to encourage energy consumption of any kind, whether it be of alternative or traditional fuels. When the oil runs out a few decades from now, I have no doubt that some alternative fuel will take its place. But what that fuel is must be decided by the marketplace. The marketplace is never wrong -- but Congress sometimes is. LAWRENCE HOWE Takoma Park