Letters To The Editor

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

March 11, 2003

Ehrlich favors polluters over the environment

I read with interest various reports on the rejection of Lynn Y. Buhl for secretary of the environment by the Maryland Senate's Executive Nominations Committee and Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.'s response ("Ehrlich makes a final effort to gain Buhl's confirmation," March 8.)

The governor's statement that environmental advocates would not have any seat at the table because of their opposition to Ms. Buhl's nomination is curious. The Sierra Club has been seeking a meeting with the governor since his election. This was long before he nominated Ms. Buhl as secretary. Early on, through his staff, he made it clear that environmental advocates had no place at the table. His administration only spoke with the environmental community when it wanted it to support his nominee.

I attended the hearing for Ms. Buhl. I heard her say she wanted to improve customer satisfaction with the Maryland Department of the Environment. When asked who she saw as the department's customers, she said those businesses seeking permits (to pollute) were the customers. It was only after pointed questioning by senators that she acknowledged that the citizens of Maryland might also be considered the department's customers.

Governor Ehrlich, to show his pique with environmental advocates, has withdrawn his support for increases in fines for violating Maryland's pollution laws. It should be pointed out that the fines are currently so low that many polluters just consider it part of the cost of doing business and feel under no compulsion to clean up their acts.

It must be that the governor suffers from the delusion that only Sierra Club members suffer from asthma, or get sick when exposed to polluted land, air and water.

Unfortunately, Governor Ehrlich seems bent on privatizing the profits of pollution to his business supporters and communizing the costs onto the citizens of Maryland.

Jon W. Robinson

College Park

The writer is chair of the Maryland chapter of the Sierra Club.

Iraq already faces humanitarian crisis

Now we are hearing of the "humanitarian crisis" that is sure to follow our liberation of Iraq ("Iraq humanitarian crisis likely if U.S. invades, aid groups say," March 10.) There are those who fear that the United States, since we are in this practically alone, will bear the brunt of the considerable costs of repairing a postwar Iraq.

There seems to be a presupposition that there is not now a humanitarian crisis in Iraq, and that our war will precipitate one. There is, and there has been, a humanitarian crisis in Iraq since before the Persian Gulf war.

There should be absolutely no problem with financing the restoration of the health, dignity and rights of the Iraqi people. Iraq is awash in one very valuable commodity: oil! Once the profits from the sale of that oil are diverted to the welfare of its population -- and away from the construction of presidential palaces, Saddam Hussein's "retirement account," the development of weapons of mass destruction and the cost of maintaining a huge military organization -- the people of Iraq will once again be made "whole."

Robert L. Di Stefano

Abingdon

Who will rebuild a war-torn Iraq?

I think a U.S.-led war on Iraq would be outrageously expensive, cause untold loss of life, expose us to more terrorist attacks and cost us the respect and support of many nations around the world.

And I wonder if the members of the Bush administration who are contemplating tactics for "liberating" Iraq have given any thought as to who will rebuild this country when their war is over.

Sandee Lippman

Baltimore

Conservatives are now the mainstream

In The Sun's Page One article "Stalemate over Bush nominee previews `coming attractions'" (Feb. 24), reporter Julie Hirschfeld Davis tells us that Democrats won't accept President Bush's "conservative" nominees that "they consider outside the mainstream."

I want to thank The Sun for growing to the point where its reporters don't label Mr. Bush's nominees "far-right" or "right-wing."

However, given that conservatives won the elections of 2000 and 2002, perhaps The Sun should have reported that Democrats will not accept anyone inside the mainstream.

Terrence H. Scout

Chestertown

Ralph Nader offered choice voters need

It is a sad day in this country when voting for a candidate should be a matter of picking the lesser of two evils. For this reason I feel very disappointed when some Democrats attribute Al Gore's defeat in the 2000 presidential election not to his own failures as a candidate, but to the success of a third-party candidate whom many felt was more fit for the job ("Wasted votes prove costly to liberal cause," letters, Feb. 23).

Ralph Nader and other third-party candidates give the American people a choice that has long been absent from our politics. Their very presence makes members of the entrenched parties have to work for our votes and actually campaign in areas where they had long expected success.

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