Letters To The Editor

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

March 17, 2006

Cost of cleaner air won't be so steep

The Senate Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Committee recently approved the Healthy Air Act, which would cause Maryland's oldest and dirtiest power plants to improve their emissions standards and cut back on carbon dioxide emissions - the leading cause of global warming - as well as mercury, sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide emissions ("Healthier air," editorial, March 12).

Rather than applauding this common-sense measure, Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. lambasted the decision, saying it poses "a direct threat to electricity prices and supplies in Maryland" ("Bill to cut power plant pollutants clears committee," March 11).

The governor's parroting of the industry's favorite - and most effective - scare tactic is ludicrous and misleading.

In fact, Maryland's coal-fired plants are much cheaper to operate than natural gas plants, and would operate with large profits even after modern pollution controls are installed.

It is highly unlikely that the Healthy Air Act would lead to any plant closures. Also, the massive rate increases planned for July have nothing to do with making our air safer to breathe but are the result of deregulation.

The millions in merger-related bonuses that Constellation Energy executives are due to receive would probably dwarf the annual cost to reduce carbon dioxide emissions at their coal-fired plants in Maryland.

If the governor were sincere about protecting consumers, he would endorse the Healthy Air Act and rescind Maryland's ill-considered energy deregulation.

Ted Weber

Annapolis

The writer testified in favor of the Healthy Air Act on behalf of the Maryland Green Party.

Run light rail line into Howard Park

Restoring full bus service along the M6 route from the Rogers Avenue Metro Station to the Social Security Administration would appear to be a no-brainer ("Readers decry M6 bus deal," March 13).

The Social Security Administration (SSA) is one of the world's largest bureaucracies, and its headquarters is in Woodlawn. So there could be no shortage of ridership.

But I was so impressed by the outpouring of community support for the M6 that I would do even better than restoring the pre-October frequency of bus service.

Since this community values public transit, why not build the proposed first link of the east-west light rail from Security Square Mall to the SSA to Woodlawn village, and then to Howard Park and the Rogers Avenue Metro station?

That way, the SSA would be connected to the Metro, which would make it possible for many more Baltimoreans to work at the SSA without squandering so much of their budget on commuting.

Paul R. Schlitz Jr.

Baltimore

Energy price hike a taste of our future

I believe the discussion of electricity rate increases has missed the elephant in the room ("15% cap on rate rise gains favor," March 15).

This price increase, and those that will follow it, are a direct result of the peaking of world oil and gas production.

As we pass the peak of production, all energy products will increase in cost. We must reorganize our lives to consume less energy.

This is not a local problem, but each person does have a solution - reduce consumption.

Sandor Dornbush

Baltimore

Campaign donations are misuse of tithes

Recently, we witnessed a shameful display of state legislators hastily returning campaign contributions from local religious institutions to prevent the possibility that those churches might lose their tax-exempt status ("3 more to return funds," March 8).

What I find fascinating is that most of these politicians seem only to darken the hallowed doors of these churches during an election year.

Even more mind-boggling is the willingness of the ministerial leadership to shell out any portion of the tithes and offerings of their congregants.

If the members of these congregations wish to individually "cast their pearls" into the troughs of our gluttonous state legislators, so be it. That is their right. However, when it is done collectively from the collection till, that is a different matter.

Shame on the elected and shame on the "selected."

Melvin A. Thomas

Randallstown

Confront the causes of immigration woes

It is the churches' job to follow the Gospels, which call on us to be loving and compassionate, especially to the poor and needy. It is the government's job to provide security, protect our borders and regulate immigration.

By seeking to pass legislation making it a felony to provide charity to illegal immigrants, a corrupt and incompetent government is attempting to shift the responsibility for refusing to solve the immigration mess to those providing humanitarian aid ("Church and state," editorial, March 7).

One reason that we have failed to sort out this mess, obviously, is that reducing the supply of cheap, exploitable laborers would reduce the profits of powerful corporate campaign contributors - and never mind that failing to confront the issue depresses wages and costs our citizens jobs.

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