Saturday Mailbox


June 16, 2007

Public can create a cleaner harbor

The sight of a harbor littered with thousands of dead, floating fish prompts visions of a great curse or an apocalypse ("Algae bloom worries experts," June 10).

And indeed, much of the vitality of our city depends on the harbor, as is evidenced by the growth of neighborhoods bordering the water and the flocks of tourists who visit those areas.

So why is our harbor in such bad shape? Is a harbor covered with trash and dead fish the best we can do?

The trash filter at Harris Creek in Canton collects more than three tons of trash a month.

When you consider that there are 28 other major sites that empty into the harbor, most of which don't filter trash, you can start to imagine the volume of trash we put into our water.

On top of that, our city leaks raw sewage directly into the harbor because of our decrepit sewer system.

Combine that waste with our other runoff and you have a volatile concoction that shouldn't be swimmed in or fished in.

However, a body of water near an urban area does not have to be so dirty.

For instance, the next time you're in Chicago, stroll down Lake Shore Drive, where you'll find people swimming laps and enjoying beautiful views of Lake Michigan.

Do we deserve anything less?

Well, perhaps the answer is yes - unless we're willing to take action to clean our harbor.

Rains wash trash from the streets directly into the harbor. So if we help keep our streets clean, less trash will end up in the harbor.

We can also help reduce runoff by replacing impermeable surfaces such as concrete with grass and trees, which will help naturally soak up runoff.

Finally, we can raise our voices and demand better.

The repulsive site of a harbor covered with rotting fish should force us to realize that we deserve better.

Roman Hardgrave


The writer is a member of the board of the Baltimore Harbor Watershed Association.

Incentives alone won't save the bay

All the good programs that provide assistance to farmers will not clean up waterways or save the bay unless farmers use them ("Help farmers, help the bay," June 5).

And all the clean water laws in the world will not clean up the bay if farmers ignore them.

My organization, Citizens for Pennsylvania's Future, has reviewed the records of large livestock facilities in Pennsylvania that are required to obtain water pollution control permits.

These permits are supposed to ensure that operators properly handle and dispose of their animal waste in ways that do not cause water pollution. The deadline to apply for a permit is now months past.

Reviewing state files, we identified 129 livestock facilities that had not applied for a permit. We began notifying the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection and the livestock operations of the requirement to apply for a permit in October.

Our latest review in March showed that 34 of these facilities still had not applied.

Farmers do need help to improve their practices. But 20 years of asking them to participate in voluntary programs has not been enough to improve the water quality of the bay.

We also need strong laws and strong law enforcement to save the bay.

Jan Jarrett

Harrisburg, Pa.

The writer is vice president of Citizens for Pennsylvania's Future.

Senators spurned the climate treaty

In the editorial "Getting warmer" (June 4) The Sun criticized President Bush, saying, "Throughout his presidency, Mr. Bush has refused to participate in the Kyoto treaty to regulate carbon dioxide emissions from power plants, contending it would hurt the U.S. economy."

But the United States cannot legally participate in any treaty unless the Senate ratifies it.

The Clinton administration agreed to the Kyoto Protocol. However, the Senate, in a resolution passed before the Clinton administration could even submit the treaty, voted 95-0 against ratifying Kyoto.

Senators voted against the treaty because it is an economy-crushing and poverty-inducing scam that would cede our sovereignty over our energy policy to an unaccountable international body.

President Bush cannot "participate" in Kyoto even if he wanted to because he is bound by that pesky document we call the Constitution.

Mark Newgent


Four Seasons foes protect the planet

I take exception to Richard E. Hug's name-calling in his letter "Unfair to cancel Kent Island project" (June 10).

Mr. Hug criticizes Gov. Martin O'Malley for voting against the project despite the developer's compliance with all environmental requirements.

It's hardly surprising that a Republican would support the interests of a corporation over the environment.

Mr. Hug blames what he calls "eco-radicals" for derailing the project and costing the developer tens of millions of dollars. Worse, he also blames these same radicals for creating our energy crisis.

I'm surprised he did not blame them for the Bush administration's failed war in Iraq.

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