I would like to respond to the recent article by Frank Zarb {"Another Failure on Oil?" op-ed, Sept. 4} in which he lays out what he calls a "prescription for energy security." If you ask me, Mr. Zarb's cure for our energy woes sounds worse than the disease.

Essentially, Mr. Zarb is offering the American people a trade: cheap energy in exchange for environmental quality. Toward this end, Mr. Zarb wants to put a stop to all those pesky restrictions on oil drilling in environmentally sensitive areas such as the Florida Keys and the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska. This proposal should be rejected, not only because it places these pristine areas at risk, but also because there's not enough recoverable oil in these places to make a dent in America's appetite for petroleum.

Mr. Zarb also calls for more coal-fired electric power plants, the wishes of local communities to the contrary notwithstanding. This is a strange notion, especially given the fact that state and local govenments are held responsible for meeting federally mandated air quality standards. A cheaper alternative would be for utilities to sponsor energy conservation programs.

Finally, Mr. Zarb calls for a "realistic policy to expand nuclear power." Before the United States goes down that road again, perhaps Mr. Zarb should also explain how we are going to realistically deal with the resulting nuclear waste. This waste will remain lethally radioactive for more than 10,000 years, and to date the government has made little progress toward finding a workable solution to this problem.

In the end, it's cheaper to save energy than to create it.

DANIEL J. JOURDAN Alexandria