Letters To The Editor


October 18, 2004

Tougher rules improve quality of the state's air

Surely, there is some rule in journalism that forbids alliteration at the expense of accuracy, as when Tom Pelton described Maryland's air quality regulations as being "like laissez-faire Louisiana" -- clever writing, perhaps, but woefully inaccurate ("Md. trails other states in fight against dirty air," Oct. 10).

Since 1990, Maryland has adopted local controls that have reduced our air pollution by 40 percent; the rest of the country, including our neighbors to the Midwest and South who export pollution to Maryland, have only reduced local pollution by 20 percent.

Maryland's vehicle emissions inspection program is the most effective of those in any of the 13 Northeast states. We require clean-burning reformulated gasoline (RFG) statewide, while our Northeast neighbors and other states apply RFG only in certain pockets, if at all.

We have imposed emissions limits on such local manufacturers as yeast producers, polystyrene producers, bakeries and screen and graphic arts printers. We have adopted regulations, comparable to California's, to control emissions from local consumer products (perfume, hair spray), household paints and coatings, and gasoline cans.

Collectively, all Maryland power plants will achieve the highest levels of controls necessary to achieve the new federal standards that are more protective of public health. But the primary source of air pollution in Maryland -- up to 70 percent on some days -- is the upwind states which have not imposed limits on power plants.

If states upwind of Maryland would adopt controls as strict as Maryland, our pollution transport problem would be solved. And we continue to be aggressively engaged in shaping federal policies to effectively address that problem.

As a result of years of increasingly stringent controls, Maryland's air quality has been improving steadily. Acknowledging that improvement, the federal Environmental Protection Agency recently revised its ranking of Maryland's air quality from "severe" to "moderate."

Like California, Maryland has crafted an approach to air pollution that is appropriate to our circumstances. Like California, we have one of the most progressive programs in the county, and one of the most effective.

To report otherwise is both unfair and inaccurate.

Thomas C. Snyder


The writer is director of the Air and Radiation Management Administration for the Maryland Department of the Environment.

What's hurting bay damages all of us

Tom Pelton makes a good point in his article "Md. trails other states in fight against dirty air" (Oct. 10). The Chesapeake Bay is a useful symbol for people to rally behind in support of a cleaner and healthier environment in our state. But perhaps we have grown too shortsighted in using this valuable symbol.

The main threats to the bay, like runoff pollution, air pollution, sewage and dumping are all symptoms of larger problems that affect all of us on a daily basis.

The air that pollutes the rain which falls and pollutes the water is the same air which is constantly passing through our lungs. We need to get at the root of this pollution and take care of the biggest sources first, so that we, and the creatures of the bay, can breathe more easily.

Reducing car and truck emissions and forcing old and dirty power plants to clean up once and for all would be huge steps in this direction. The technology needed to do this is available and affordable.

If everyone who stood for a cleaner bay could also get behind these initiatives, the impact would be huge not only for the bay but for all of us in Maryland.

Laura Shehan


Stop paying attention to Schaefer's bigotry

As a longtime area resident who was born and raised in Baltimore, I've had a certain affinity for state Comptroller William Donald Schaefer over the years.

He was never quite politically correct and many times bordered on the absurd. And on more than one occasion his comments (as the record will show) were out of line, bigoted and unprofessional.

And now I am finished with Mr. Schaefer ("Schaefer won't step down over AIDS remarks," Oct. 15).

It is time for the media to stop giving this man, and all his bigotry, air time.

Melody McSweeney


Schaefer has courage to speak for all of us

Kudos to state Comptroller William Donald Schaefer for his willingness to say what most of us are thinking. ("Schaefer won't step down over AIDS remarks," Oct 15).

Whether it be AIDS, illegal aliens or a myriad or other subjects, I've watched far too many politically correct, well-scripted sound bites from politicians who are afraid to say what they think or to say no to special interest groups.

If it takes being an elder statesman to afford our representatives the wisdom and freedom to openly express these views, maybe elected positions should have a minimum age requirement of somewhere around 75 years.

Wayne Croft


No biological basis for racial categories

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