Letters To The Editor


March 09, 2003

Maryland needs plan to promote cleaner energy

I commend Del. Kumar Barve and state Sen. Delores Kelley for supporting clean energy standards for Maryland ("The energy answer is blowing in the wind," Opinion Commentary, Feb. 20).

Currently, Maryland derives 96 percent of its energy from fossil and nuclear fuels. Burning these fuels releases air pollutants such as mercury, sulfur dioxides and particulates that cause learning disabilities in our children and trigger an estimated 200,000 asthma attacks each year as they cut short the lives of more than 1,000 Marylanders.

In addition, coal-fired power plants are the leading source of the airborne nitrogen pollution that ends up in the Chesapeake Bay.

But clean energy sources such as wind and solar power can provide reliable electricity and improve our quality of life. And steadily increasing the amount of new, clean, renewable electricity sources will put Maryland on a path toward cleaner air, long-term price stability, more reliable electricity and economic growth.

For the health of our children and our environment, I urge our elected officials in Annapolis to pass strong clean energy legislation this year.

Gigi Kellett


The writer is a public-interest advocate for the Maryland Public Interest Research Group.

Threat of warming should bring change

I heartily agree with the recent column supporting the renewable energy bill recently introduced in Annapolis ("The energy answer is blowing in the wind," Opinion

Commentary, Feb. 20). However, it failed to emphasize the biggest reason we need clean energy now - global warming.

Unless our nation rapidly joins the rest of the world in drastically cutting fossil fuel use, scientists warn that the planet will see ecological, social and agricultural chaos in this century. The planet is already warming rapidly, with serious impacts potentially in store for the Earth in general and Maryland in particular.

For example, a possible sea-level rise of up to 3 feet could by itself devastate the Chesapeake Bay and disrupt agriculture across the Eastern Shore.

The solution: Switch to clean energy now.

Mark Houdashelt


Test the system for missile defense

The U.S. Department of Defense has procedures it routinely follows with regard to the procurement of weapons systems. An essential step in the process is "operational testing," which is meant to see if the product performs as intended in a "battlefield-like environment."

If we produce something before we test it, we unnecessarily endanger American fighting forces and increase the likelihood that taxpayer money will be wasted.

And with funds especially scarce today, how can President Bush justify seeking to exempt the missile defense system from the operational testing requirement ("Bush seeks test exemption for missile defense," Feb. 24)?

If Mr. Bush were behaving this way with his own money, I wouldn't object. When it's my money, however, I don't appreciate having it wasted.

Mark Romanoff


Create a casino in convention center

Building on Thomas F. Schaller's excellent suggestion that we phase out lotteries and open casinos ("Md. missing an option in slots debate," Feb. 23), why not roll the dice on one big casino - at the Baltimore Convention Center?

The center is losing money, and all the 10,000 slots would fit nicely on the exposition floor. Other floors could offer blackjack, wheels of fortune and any other form of gambling one desires. And bands, singers and other entertainers might use the ballroom on the fourth floor.

Food and drink service and restrooms are in place. Most important, the light rail and many bus routes take you right to the door.

Conventioneers could take the MARC to Washington for a little action. And big winners could walk to Little Italy for dinner.

George E. Brown


Slots cause chaos in urban areas

The writer of the letter "Despite ills, slots are the people's choice" (Feb. 19) posed the question: "If slots are so bad why are slots so successful in Delaware and West Virginia?"

The answer is that the slots in Delaware and West Virginia are located in a nonurban setting. The proposed slots in Baltimore would be located in a part of the city that already has a crime problem.

Add slots that would bring in a clientele carrying cash, and I think the result would be obvious.

Jeff Ashton


Make up school days lost to winter storms

The wonderful letter "Crying `snow' leaves educators adrift" (Feb. 25) addressed the problem of many school districts that "cry wolf" on closing school for weather-related reasons.

And while there have been numerous worthwhile reasons to close schools this season, there have also been some questionable decisions.

When I heard that a leading school official was approaching the state school board to request shortening the school year by two days ("Grasmick to seek waiver on school year requirement," Feb. 25), I really couldn't believe that idea was even being seriously considered.

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