I certainly won't dispute J. Robinson West's basic point: we have no rational, coherent energy policy {op-ed, Aug. 29}. But Mr. West's plea for an organized approach to energy is really a rationalization for business as usual.

He argues that energy investments, whether for new resources or for conservation, are "massive and take years." In fact, investments in energy efficiency are unusually quick and small. As an example, lighting retrofits in office buildings frequently cut electrical consumption in half, pay for themselves in less than two years and are accomplished in weeks or months. There are no new energy resources that can be exploited so quickly, or at such a profit. Drilling oil wells is a big investment, but changing light bulbs is not.

Mr. West thinks these "massive" investments to produce energy justify "reasonable incentives" from the government (small wonder -- he is president of Petroleum Finance Co.). Yet he insists that alternative energy sources "compete in the marketplace free of government subsidy." How can he advocate this glaring double standard?

Mr. West would have us believe that there is substantial doubt that fossil fuel consumption is bad for us or for the Earth. There isn't; it's bad and it must be reduced. Improved energy efficiency and alternative energy supplies are and will continue to be America's best bets for simultaneously improving our economy, environment and national security. Mr. West would continue to stack the deck against these options. DEAN C. WIGHT Bethesda