Letters To The Editor

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

December 21, 2005

Merger may imperil our energy futureThe pending merger of Constellation Energy with Florida's FPL Group Inc. is a weighty concern for Marylanders who face an uncertain energy future ("Constellation, FPL unveil 11.5 billion merger plan," Dec. 20).

Maryland already faces a crisis with its energy supply. Power plants are the leading source of air pollution and global warming emissions in the state. And the uncertain market for fossil fuels that caused gasoline prices to peak this summer will cause natural gas prices to skyrocket this winter.

This merger will create a new energy giant, one that will rank high on the list of Fortune 500 companies. But will this new company really care about the rise of asthma among our children or the ability of Baltimore residents to pay their winter heating bills?

Cleaning up our polluting power plants, promoting energy efficiency and encouraging renewable energy can ensure an affordable, clean and stable energy future for our state.

And as our energy providers distance themselves from the communities they serve, the legislature must act to make energy clean and sustainable.

Jennifer Bevan-Dangel

Baltimore

The writer is an advocate for the Maryland Public Interest Research Group.

MDE, Constellation collusion improper

I was appalled after reading The Sun's article on the relationship between the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) and Constellation Energy ("MDE, industry blocked a bill," Dec. 18).

Shame on the Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.'s "pro-business" administration for appointing a former Constellation lobbyist as deputy secretary of the MDE.

The MDE is supposed to protect our environment and thus should be for the four-pollutants bill, not be working behind the scenes to defeat it.

It is sickening to see that lining the pockets of Constellation Energy is apparently more important to the MDE than cleaning our air of pollutants.

Barbara McLean Mantler

Baltimore

I was dismayed to learn that the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) opposed clean air protections but outraged when I read that MDE leaders had been fed their talking points by Constellation Energy's lobbyists.

The close relationship between industry and regulatory agencies has come to resemble a revolving door that erodes the integrity of the regulatory process.

MDE leaders will have a chance to redeem themselves by supporting the Healthy Air Act, this year's four-pollutants bill. But the larger problem inherent in the drinking-buddy relationship between the pollution police and the polluters also remains to be addressed.

Johanna E. Neumann

Baltimore

Giving government to private interests?

I found the article "MDE, industry blocked a bill" (Dec. 18) another example of Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.'s blatant arrogance and ineptness.

I'll concede that the governor has the right to appoint his executive department heads.

But he should at least ensure that his hirelings have the ability to write in their own words the scripts that the regulated provide to the regulators.

Reuben Dagold

Baltimore

Arguments against air pollution control submitted by an environmental agency but written by respresentatives of a corporation? Slots bills written by the gambling industry?

What's next, minimum wage laws proposed by Wal-Mart? School lunch reform sponsored by the fast-food industry?

It's time to rid the state of the corporate cronies installed by the current administration and get back to government by the people and for the people.

Jessica Herrmann

Arnold

Bush flip-flops on war, torture

Last week President Bush admitted serious mistakes in his Iraq policy ("Bush sticks to war plan," Dec. 15).

He has apparently quietly dropped his plan to privatize Social Security. And administration officials now admit to a slow and inadequate federal response to Hurricane Katrina.

The president has also now agreed to support the McCain amendment prohibiting cruel and inhumane treatment - otherwise known as torture - of those in American custody ("Bush reverses stand, accepts ban on torture of detainees," Dec. 16).

Who is flip-flopping now?

Eric F. Waller

Baltimore

Abu Ghraib abuses not part of policy

The Sun's article "Interrogation rules for Army held up" (Nov. 16) inaccurately portrayed both the interrogation policies of the Department of Defense and the timing of the release of the U.S. Army's new interrogation field manual.

First, the illegal abuses that "came to light in the Abu Ghraib scandal" had virtually nothing to do with interrogations. With one exception, the prisoners in the infamous Abu Ghraib photographs were criminal suspects with no assumed intelligence value.

In flagrant violation of regulations and policies, they were mistreated as a form of unlawful punishment or amusement by prison guards. Long prison sentences for some of those individuals have been meted out, and there may well be additional sentences for others.

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