Government on Air: Brawn, No BrainsAs an employee who...


September 18, 1994

Government on Air: Brawn, No Brains

As an employee who commutes daily from Anne Arundel to Howard County, I will be subject to the Environmental Protection Agency's employee commuter program -- the topic of your July 23 editorial, "One Metro Area, One Airshed."

While my neighbors who work for the federal government in Washington can commute alone, I must find someone with whom I can share my ride to and from work.

Employer trip reduction programs are costly and have only a slight effect on pollution.

A 1992 General Accounting Office study concluded that such programs could be expected to reduce pollution by 3 percent or less because cars have become cleaner and commuting accounts for a declining share of vehicle travel. Yet the cost of the programs, including commuter surveys, plan development, implementation and monitoring will be significant.

The employer mandates of the Clean Air Act are a classic example of lawmaking driven by symbolism rather than thinking. The environmental problem is real, but the mandated regulations will be ineffective.

Facts and logic have been lost to EPA's blind anti-car bias. Although there are ways to cut ozone at less cost, the EPA has rejected the most cost-effective alternatives, such as targeting those few hot summer days when ozone forms more easily. These temporary solutions would yield a more ozone-cutting bang for the buck than trip reductions, but the EPA has rejected all these periodic measures in favor of permanent ones.

The federal government has reached the nadir of the regulatory process with these amendments to the Clean Air Act. This is government at its worst -- the epitome of stupidity.

Jack Williams


Special Interests

The Sun's editorial of July 26 entitled "Special-Interest Politics" deserves a mild challenge.

The editorial deals with special interest groups who send questionnaires to candidates to prod the candidates in an effort to support their agenda.

The fault with the editorial lies in its last paragraph: "Those who do provide firm answers and later change their minds shouldn't worry about being 'boxed in.' Reasonable people will buy a good explanation. And elected leaders of integrity and courage won't care if a special interest group doesn't understand."

The editorial gives aid and comfort to those who would break a campaign promise. Firm answers on questionnaires are promises, pure and simple. The special interest groups do not pose the questions out of idle curiosity. They do so because they want the promise. In exchange, they will vote and give campaign contributions.

Some of the cynicism of politicians stems from broken political promises. There may be good and reasonable explanation for a broken promise, but it is rare when an explanation can be properly disseminated.

Our political institutions would be better served if an unsure candidate, hungry for votes and money, would say "no" to special interest questionnaires.

Theodore Levin


The writer is a member of the House of Delegates in the 11th Legislative District.

Mitigating Mosquitoes

There have been several articles and letters appearing in The Sun regarding the Anne Arundel County mosquito control program and, particularly, about the use of the insecticide malathion. . . .

Since 1956, the state of Maryland has conducted a mosquito control program based on the authority and mandate of the Maryland Mosquito Control Law. . . .

Anne Arundel was one of the first Maryland counties to request inclusion in the program beginning in 1956 and has participated each year since. . . . Individuals in a participating community can be exempted from mosquito control services on their property and a 300-foot buffer around their property by sending a request to the department. . . .

Actions to control mosquitoes currently include removing water from sites where mosquitoes develop, using mosquito-eating fish reduce numbers of mosquito larvae at the source, using biological insecticides to control larvae and to reduce the number of adult mosquitoes emerging and, as a last resort, to use an insecticide to control adult mosquitoes that exceed certain population levels in a specific area.

Malathion (trade name Cythion) is used for adult mosquito control in Maryland because, when applied according to label directions, it has a long-term record of safe and effective use and it is not deleterious to human health or the environment. . . . Malathion is not classified by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency or any scientific or regulatory agency as a cancer-causing agent. The National Cancer Institute evaluated malathion for possible carcinogenicity in rats and mice and concluded it is not carcinogenic. The National Toxicology Program of the U.S. Public Health Service reviewed the NCI findings and confirmed in 1985 that malathion is not carcinogenic. . . .

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