Fly ash controversy shows state needs tighter disposal...


July 23, 1999

Fly ash controversy shows state needs tighter disposal rules

The Solley community and the Coalition of Citizens and Communities Against Fly Ash (CCCAF) understand that BGE wants to, in The Sun's words, "bury the fly ash debate" in Anne Arundel County over the company's poorly regulated disposal of 4 million tons of coal fly ash ("Burying the fly ash debate," July 16).

Over the last three years, BGE launched the full weight of its legal, engineering, public relations and lobbying power against the tiny Solley community, and the decisions of the local Board of Appeals and District Court Judge Robert Silkworth. But the facts facts stood the test of this tireless assault.

This should send a signal to BGE, the county and the state that it is time to improve regulation of industrial discharges in Central Maryland.

Solley is just part of a broadening pattern of citizen challenes to Maryland's environmental regulatory mechanisms. Other examples include campaigns against glycol (anti-freeze) discharges at Baltimore-Washington International Airport; toxic wastes in Wagner's Point and Fairfield and Site 104 "open Bay" dredge dumping.

In each case, information available on the Internet helped fuel the debate.

In the Solly fly ash case, detailed information on the hazards of ground-based disposal was only keystrokes away. The community knew that Maryland's regulatory regime for fly ash did not meet national standards.

Since the web today gives communities access to detailed environmental information, burying such debates behind the closed doors of Maryland's regulatory agencies is no longer an option.

Mary Rosso, Annapolis

The writer represents the 31st District in Maryland's House of Delegates.

Pettiford case mistakes don't reflect general pattern

I am the attorney who represented Antoine Pettiford at his original trial in 1995.

While The Sun's article "How secret evidence led to a life sentence" (July 11) related the case's facts correctly, it does not reflect my overall experience with the Baltimore City State's Attorney's Office.

Since 1972, I have handled more than 150 homicide cases in Baltimore. I can never recall being duped or misled by the prosecutor's office. Mr. Pettiford's is the only case in which I have recommended at a post-conviction hearing that the defendant be granted a new trial.

The vast majority of the city's prosecutors consistently comply with discovery rules. That is not to say occasional glitches do not occur. However, I don't think they are maliciously motivated, but simply the result of the city's high volume of cases.

It should also be noted that our system of justice ultimately does work: Mr. Pettiford was granted a new trial.

Walter F. Balint, Baltimore

In excluding gays, Church still stuck in the dark ages

The Sun's article "Vatican bars Md. priest, nun from ministry to gays" (July 14) is a perfect example of the Catholic Church's continuing dark-ages mentality.

I am neither Catholic nor gay, but I do read the Bible. At its core is a message of tolerance, acceptance and understanding.

When a church claims Christian beliefs as its core values, how can it turn its back on anyone?

Jesus walked among the outcasts and lost souls of his day. Were he walking the earth today, he would be ministering to any and all who choose to hear his word.

Gene Becker, Crofton

The "Holy Office" marches on. In the 13th century they pursued heretics. Now they target homosexuals.

In the Middle Ages, they burned heretics at the stake. Today, this compassionate group seems to have run out of matches.

John G. Barry, Baltimore

Religion losing touch with basic spirituality

So the Vatican bars the nun and the priest from ministering to gays? ("Priest agrees to Vatican order to end ministry to gay Catholics," July 15).

As a member of a reconciling United Methodist congregation that welcomes everyone, I am becoming more and more convinced that much of organized religion has very little to do with spirituality.

How tragic and sad for us all.

Carol Berman, Baltimore

The writer is a member of St. John's of Baltimore City United Methodist Church.

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