I don't think you have to be a chemical engineer (I am) to see the solution to our energy problems in the wonderfully instructive article by Thomas Lippman {Aug. 22} about oil shale recovery -- and also a way to end our dependence on foreign oil, a dependence made clear by world events of the last few weeks.

Using only the numbers I see in the article, I calculate that with oil shale reserves at 600 billion barrels and U.S. usage at 15,000,000 barrels a day, we've got about 110 years of oil in the ground right here -- without counting our non-shale oil.

By Mr. Lippman's estimate, break-even is $40 a barrel. Well, since Iraq invaded Kuwait, the price went from below $20 to over $30 -- a $10 tax imposed by S. Hussein.

If President Bush and Congress imposed a similar additional $10 tax for every barrel coming into the United States from outside the country and on every barrel drilled from now on in the country, we would then have oil that has a U.S. market price of $40 a barrel and:

a) an extra $10 per barrel to pay off our budget deficit;

b) 110 years' worth of new, economically competitive oil, overnight.

Goodnight, S. Hussein. Hello, Supercountry! DAVID FREUND Silver Spring