No 'right to pollute' under proposed rule for air...

Letters to the Editor

June 21, 1998

No 'right to pollute' under proposed rule for air emissions 0) bank

Your article "Md. air rules spark debate" (June 12) suggested that Maryland is proposing "controversial rules that would make it easier for smokestack industries to get permits for emissions into the air." Let us get the record straight: there is no "right to pollute," as was suggested in the story.

Maryland's air quality is better today than it has been since we started monitoring because of efforts by business and government to reduce air pollutants.

The proposed emission offset banking and trading program does not change the underlying permit process that applies to sources of air pollution. It merely formalizes an existing process.

The emission trading credit concept gives states and businesses the flexibility to achieve clean air standards while maintaining economic viability and is consistent with requirements of the federal Clean Air Act. Other mid-Atlantic states have emissions credit programs to take advantage of a system that works well to retain and expand businesses.

The regulations are being developed with representatives of the environmental community, industry and state and local government. The goal is to reach consensus on a program that protects public health and the environment while supporting economic growth.

Under Gov. Parris N. Glendening, Maryland has made great strides in meeting federal standards. The state is in compliance with all the national ambient air standards, with the exception of ground-level ozone. Our departments are working toward the same goal -- to protect and improve our air quality and environment.

Jane Nishida

Baltimore

James D. Fielder Jr.

Baltimore

The writers are secretaries, respectively, of the Maryland Department of the Environment and the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development.

My car has always passed the Vehicle Emissions Inspection Program test. This assumes a minimum of air pollution from my vehicle. I think I should get "credit" for those years, and if in the future my car fails the test, I should not be penalized.

This makes about as much sense to me as the rules governing industry. Sure, it takes time to change and improve industrial emissions. But we should not use credits to make it easier for industry.

Carolyn Wilkenson

Lutherville

Shining some needed light on gubernatorial hopefuls

Thank you for Barry Rascovar's Opinion Commentary column ("Checkbook politics, June 14"), beginning the analysis of the performance and experience of gubernatorial candidates.

Ray Schoenke has ego and enough money to display it but little else. Eileen Rehrmann has experience as a legislator and a county executive. I hope you will provide an objective review of her other accomplishments. Charles Ecker has experience in government operations as county executive, although he has no legislative experience. We also need a review of this work.

By merely citing Ellen Sauerbrey's 16 years in the House of Delegates, Mr. Rascovar omitted the judgment of many that her inflexible conservatism in the House was more obstructive than contributive to the legislative process. She also has no executive experience because she never was in charge of a large organization.

If you continue this analysis, you must conclude that Ms. Sauerbrey is actually the least qualified of the leading contestants in both parties, and Mr. Glendening, based on his successful negotiations with the legislature and his efficient management of the executive branch, is the best qualified.

Ronald P. Bowers

Lutherville

Fill shortage and save lives by donating needed organs

Thank you for your coverage of the growing debate over the allocation system for lifesaving organ transplants and proposed rule changes in that system. It is important that issues such as these are understood by the general public and the medical community.

More than 55,000 people in the United States are on the waiting list for lifesaving organ transplants and 10 to 12 of these people die every day. The situation is especially critical in Maryland, where nearly 2,000 people are on the waiting list.

Maryland's waiting list is disproportionately large, and the length of time Maryland patients spend on the waiting list is disproportionately long compared with national averages. Ours

is a crisis situation, because there are just not enough donated organs available to meet the needs of people waiting.

The current system of organ allocation is efficient but not perfect. Maryland patients benefit, in some respects because we have access to organs donated in other states. Maryland patients suffer because of the comparatively long time they often have to wait.

The real issue, however, is not allocation. The real issue is increasing the supply of donated organs and tissue. With more than 55,000 people waiting for organs and fewer than 20,000 donated organs available in 1997, no allocation system is going to satisfy everybody.

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