Air Quality in Maryland
Editor: Your Nov. 10 editorial suggests the best way to solve air-quality problems of Maryland and other Eastern states is adoption of California's stringent Low Emissions Vehicle (LEV) program.
The federal Clean Air Act and last year's amendments mandate a number of emission-control requirements that will go a long way toward solving Maryland's air quality problems. As required under the federal law, Maryland's implementation of these steps will reduce average automobile emissions by 85 percent in the year 2003 at an increased gasoline cost of approximately 8-12 cents a gallon. The California LEV program could reduce automobile emissions an additional 1 percent at a further cost of 20-24 cents a gallon.
The California approach is a discretionary strategy for Maryland and need not be adopted if the mandatory controls prove sufficient. Maryland will not fall behind if it carefully studies the cumulative emission reductions stemming from the federal mandate before it considers a decision on the California LEV program. There is certainly no need to rush to adopt another state's plan.
California has, by far, the worst air quality in the country. In 1989-91 averages California had 211 ozone exceedance days per year. During the same period Maryland had five. The climate and geography of California are unique and subject to temperature inversions that can trap emissions near the ground for weeks. While Maryland's problem is real, it pales in comparison to California's.
An independent consulting firm, DRI/McGraw-Hill, recently estimated if Maryland and other Eastern states adopt the California LEV program, the resulting higher costs for vehicles and fuels could have a severe impact on the area's economy. The study estimated as many as 298,000 jobs could be lost in the region and the cost of refining gasoline could be driven up as much as 24 cents a gallon. At a time when unemployment is rising, when a number of businesses are facing recessionary pressures and when the state of Maryland faces a huge budget deficit, hasty decisions to adopt the LEV program could bring additional economic woes.
The Congress had laid out an extremely challenging approach it believes will work. We question whether the benefits Maryland could derive from adopting the California LEV standards are worth the cost to Maryland consumers.
Certainly a cost-benefit analysis should be performed before a decision is made.
Michael D. McDonald.
The writer is executive director of the Maryland Petroleum Council.
Editor: As we move into the 1990s, the world is entertaining a new era of peace. The Berlin Wall has crumbled, Russia has ceased to be a threat for the first time since the Cold War and Terry Anderson, the last U.S. hostage in Lebanon, has been freed.
As reported in The Sun on Dec. 5, "The nearly decade-long drama of the hostages came to a joyous finish at a late night news conference in the Syrian Foreign Ministry here." And America does indeed have reason to celebrate. The waiting, the uncertainty is over, the prayers of many have been answered, and the families have been reunited.
But as we rejoice, let us not forget that the hostage crisis is not over yet. There are still two German aid workers being held in Iran and another Italian business man who is believed to be dead.
Let us remember the pain the families of these captives must be feeling, and with these thoughts, let us continue the struggle for freedom and peace for all people.
Colette M. Bartos.
Editor: I would like to congratulate Dr. Kimball Maull on his recent appointment as director of Maryland's Emergency Medical Systems. He must be commended for accepting this challenge in light of today's economic situation and dwindling budgets. I would also like to challenge Dr. Maull to use his influence and experience to upgrade the level of pre-hospital care being provided to the citizens of Baltimore City.
When the state began cutting the hours of flight for the Medevac helicopters there was a public outcry. Why is it that when a cardiac arrest or trauma victim has a better chance of survival in Baltimore, Anne Arundel and other counties as opposed to Baltimore City, no one marches to City Hall or the governor's mansion to protest? How many more people will choke to death eating lunch at the Lexington Market before city officials wake up to the fact that the Emergency Medical Services program being offered can and must be updated to reflect the standard of care for the 1990s and beyond?
The writer is a Baltimore City paramedic.
Satellites? We Build Plenty Here
Editor: On Dec. 4, The Sun's Business section ran a story on the TOPEX spacecraft. The sub-head -- "Fairchild Space Co. builds first Md. Satellite in years" -- and following text -- "TOPEX, the first satellite made in Maryland since the lunar landings of the early 1970s . . ." are significant errors of fact, which should be corrected.