Letters To The Editor

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

June 21, 2005

Energy policy ruins treasures for private profit

Hats off to The Sun for spending the money to send reporter Tom Pelton to the Rockies for a firsthand look at the out-of-control drilling program there ("Drilling ignites battle over Western paradise," June 12) and for writing a clear-eyed editorial on the folly of this 1950s-style energy policy ("Plunderland," June 14).

Instead of making tough, forward-looking decisions to address our energy challenges, Washington is handing over some of the most spectacular public lands in the West to the oil and gas industry.

The government's own study shows that 85 percent of the recoverable oil and gas in the Rocky Mountain region is already available for leasing and development.

Why, then, are we risking the towering cliffs and ecological lushness of Colorado's Roan Plateau, the sweeping, sun-drenched grasslands and hills of New Mexico's Otero Mesa, the colorful sandstone walls of Utah's Desolation Canyon and other special places?

These places belong to all of us - and to generations of Americans yet unborn. Once such national treasures are leased, they are lost forever.

William H. Meadows

Washington

The writer is president of the Wilderness Society.

Energy efficiency is path to prosperity

I read with great interest Jay Hancock's column about the Alcoa plant in Frederick County ("Alcoa plant in Frederick a long shot to stay open," June 15). And I feel that The Sun does its readers a great service in educating us about the massive energy needs of aluminum smelting.

Like many stories these days, this one casts a harsh light on our predicament as we near the end of cheap fossil fuel. I hope state officials such as development czar Aris Melissaratos can see that the way to new jobs, economic development and future prosperity lies on the path of efficiency and renewable energy.

Saving electricity also dramatically reduces greenhouse gas emissions - something of great concern in the Chesapeake Region, as it impacts the health not only of the bay but of humans as well.

Julie E. Gabrielli

Baltimore

Bush offers right way to reduce emissions

The Sun's editorial "Mercuring is rising" (June 2) was critical of Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.'s decision not to permit the state attorney general to file suit in the U.S. Court of Appeals to stop the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency from weakening the rules governing mercury emissions from coal-fired power plants.

The fact is that we should applaud the governor's common-sense decision.

The governor has shown by his past actions that he is very concerned about the protection of the environment - witness, for one example, his push to clean up the Chesapeake Bay by finding a source of funds to upgrade wastewater treatment plants, which are the second-largest source of bay pollution.

More specifically on the question of mercury, the Bush administration's program will reduce mercury emissions from power plants some 70 percent by 2018.

Of course, the radical environmentalists want the regulations to go further, even though U.S. power plants produce just 1 percent of global mercury emissions. But the plan is a sensible "cap and trade" pollution plan, of the sort that has worked so well for acid rain.

The "Clear Skies" air quality program put forth by the Bush administration is a sound, science-based and affordable effort to further improve the nation's air quality over a reasonable period of years.

One must remember that tremendous progress has been made over the past 30 years in reducing nitrogen, sulfur dioxide and particulate pollutants, and we are now entering a phase of diminishing returns in pollution reduction, which will be extremely costly to achieve and require some degree of patience.

The "Clear Skies" program embodies a philosophy appropriate to such a period.

Richard E. Hug

Baltimore

The writer is a member of the Maryland Board of Regents and the finance director for Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.

BDC and City Hall must be accountable

Most of the Baltimore Development Corp.'s budget indeed "comes from City Hall," and without it, the BDC could not survive ("If it walks like a duck," editorial, June 17).

But the BDC and City Hall do not accept the notion that public money requires public accountability.

The Sun argues that a Circuit Court judge was incorrect in ruling that BDC is not subject to the state's open meetings and public information acts. I agree. Both acts provide for discretionary secrecy for quasi-public agencies such as the BDC, as needed.

And I am confident the Court of Appeals will also ask: Hey, why the secrecy?

Grenville B. Whitman

Rock Hall

Massachusetts thrives as gays flock to altar

Clearly, the politics of a possible presidential run, not the facts, are behind Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney's backing for a mean-spirited plan to end same-sex marriage in Massachusetts ("Mass. governor backs plan that would end gay unions," June 17).

Opponents of same-sex marriage predicted great cataclysms would befall Massachusetts if gay couples wed.

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