Letters To The Editor

LETTERS TO TH EDITOR

May 16, 2007

Blame fuel costs, not deregulation

Electricity costs have increased in all regions - those that have restructured their electricity markets, such as Maryland, and those that have elected to maintain the old, regulatory approach.

So it is an overly simplistic assessment for Jay Hancock to point to rising electricity prices in Maryland and assert that the state's restructured power market is to blame ("High electricity costs hurting Md. manufacturers, jobs," May 9).

Nationally, the cost increases for other forms of energy used by consumers have far surpassed the percentage cost increases for electricity.

Clearly, it is the cost of fuel that is behind rising electricity prices in Maryland, not the way the energy market is structured.

The article also rewrites history when it opines about the "good old days" of the regulatory regime, when allegedly low-cost nuclear power subsidized lower costs for residential consumers. Prior to competition, nuclear energy was among the most costly and inefficient forms of electric generation. Only in the face of competitive pressures have nuclear power plants had the incentive to dramatically improve efficiencies and cut costs.

Because of competition, today more than 50 percent of all retail electricity customers can purchase a "green" power alternative from their supplier or utility.

Competition also has forced older generating facilities to either close or boost efficiency, which leads to better environmental performance.

The fact is that in competitive markets, stakeholders have real incentives to find new, better ways of meeting our nation's growing, changing energy demands.

Joel Malina

Washington

The writer is executive director of Compete, a coalition of electricity consumers, transmitters, generators and marketers working to promote energy deregulation.

Manufacturing firms seek energy solutions

The manufacturing companies covered in Jay Hancock's column "High electricity costs hurting Md. manufacturers, jobs," (May 9) reflect the views of thousands of Maryland manufacturing companies.

These companies are mainly small businesses involved in developing and producing products in a wide variety of areas. All of them compete on costs, and many compete in international markets. Most have worked hard to increase productivity by reducing costs to remain competitive.

Increased costs of any kind threaten the success of all people who work in manufacturing. And the reliability and cost of electricity affect commercial and residential customers.

The silver lining is that manufacturers and residential customers agree that we need to find sources of energy that are low-cost, reliable and available. That's a lot of human energy calling for a mutually beneficial solution.

Mike Galiazzo

Sparks

The writer is executive director of the Regional Manufacturing Institute.

Living wage ensures dignity for workers

The state legislature, Gov. Martin O'Malley and the diverse coalition of faith and labor organizations that helped give Maryland the nation's first statewide living wage law should be commended ("Living wage becomes Md. law," May 9).

At a time when the gap between rich and poor has reached Depression-era standards and the average CEO earns more than 200 times the pay of the average worker, a modest wage increase for poor and working-class people is the least we can do for the least among us.

Justice for workers is a central moral issue at the heart of Catholic social teaching, a faith tradition the governor shares.

The common good requires that we ensure working people can provide for their families.

All of us who seek dignity for workers and their families must continue to push our leaders to put the common good ahead of private interest and partisan gain.

Alexia Kelley

Washington

The writer is executive director of Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good.

Can we now trust public prosecutors?

U.S. Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales' credibility and the politicization of a federal agency are just the tip of the problem at the Department of Justice ("Gonzales gives little to House," May 11).

The bottom of this mess is the unknown objectivity of those U.S. attorneys whom Mr. Gonzales decided not to fire.

I hope that most of the remaining Republican appointees are competent and fair. But one has to wonder, what did they do to keep their jobs? And who is monitoring the prosecutorial actions of these 80-plus individuals with so much discretionary power?

To illustrate that this is more than a theoretical issue, one need only look at the Georgia Thompson case in Wisconsin.

Ms. Thompson was wrongly convicted and sent to jail by one of the U.S. attorneys who kept his job.

It is widely believed that the purpose of her prosecution, which the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals made clear was unjust when it ordered her immediate release in April, was to tarnish the state's popular Democratic governor just before last year's election.

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