Letters To The Editor

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

October 30, 2007

Initiatives imperil birds Bush backed

On Oct. 20, President Bush announced a new initiative to finance migratory bird habitat conservation ("Bush supports fish, fowl," Oct. 21).

It is ironic that he announced these protections even as two of Alaska's - and the world's - most critical bird habitats face imminent threats.

Teshekpuk Lake in Alaska's Arctic region is threatened by an administration bid to allow oil and gas drilling in its fragile and irreplaceable wetlands.

Izembek National Wildlife Refuge, located at the tip of the Alaska Peninsula, faces the destruction of internationally recognized wilderness lands for an unnecessary road project supported by Alaska's congressional delegation.

Both proposals could put hundreds of thousands of migratory birds at risk.

Teshekpuk Lake is an irreplaceable wetland complex vital to migrating waterfowl. Birds from across the U.S., including Maryland, congregate at Teshekpuk Lake's wetlands each summer to breed, feed and shed last year's feathers.

To open this incomparable habitat to oil and gas drilling could well mean fewer migratory birds in Maryland in years to come.

Building a road through the wilderness of Izembek National Wildlife Refuge could have the same effect. Tens of thousands of migrating birds rely on the refuge's wetlands to rest, nest and feed as they travel north along the Pacific Flyway.

If President Bush is serious about helping future generations enjoy the birds he visited on Maryland's Eastern Shore recently, he and his appointees should safeguard the bird nursery at Teshekpuk Lake and protect the Izembek wilderness by strongly opposing a road project that would put tens of thousands of migratory birds at risk.

Eleanor Huffines

Anchorage, Alaska

The writer is Alaska regional director for the Wilderness Society.

Price supports hurt planet, consumers

As Steve Chapman suggests, it is time for the government to cease federalizing the farm sector ("Get the feds off the farm," Opinion * Commentary, Oct. 26).

Prices for the government's so-called program commodities - those that receive the bulk of the farm subsidies - are at their highest levels in years.

The farm sector and its rural communities are doing well for a variety of economic reasons, including crop shortfalls in other countries.

Mr. Chapman is right that market prices should signal the need for less government intervention in the farm economy.

But since Congress politicized this sector, it has become an economic twilight zone where normal business rules don't apply and fundamental economic theory doesn't exist.

As an agricultural economist, I know consumers would benefit from lower prices if the government got off the farm.

The environment would also benefit as unneeded crops, such as more acres of cotton, went unplanted.

There are many reasons to end farm subsidies.

There is only one reason to keep them - politics.

Jim Patterson

San Francisco

Mukasey is unfit for Cabinet post

On the surface, former U.S. District Judge Michael B. Mukasey appears to be a decent and bipartisan man; however, his refusal to say whether waterboarding is torture and to make clear that the president must follow the law makes him unfit for high office ("Senate should get more answers before confirming attorney general," Opinion * Commentary, Oct. 29).

Mr. Mukasey now looks like an imitation of the last attorney general, Alberto R. Gonzales, who was pushed out of office.

I shudder to think what would happen if he is confirmed as attorney general.

Anthony Gemma

Abingdon

Free State may merit brand new moniker

For those who do not know, or may have forgotten, I'd note that Maryland has long been known as the Free State.

Unfortunately, it may soon become known as the "Fee State" under the direction of Gov. Martin O'Malley ("Stakes high at session eve," Oct. 29).

James M. Burke

Kingsville

New taxes needed to move Md. forward

The letter "Cut spending growth to solve shortfall" (Oct. 25) is inaccurate.

First, Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. did not turn a budget deficit into a budget surplus. He balanced the budgets each year he was governor, as he was required to do by law.

Mr. Ehrlich did this, in part, by fund transfers, and by raising property taxes and fees. He did not address Maryland's long-term projected deficit.

Second, the O'Malley administration did not spend a fictional surplus.

Third, Mr. O'Malley has instituted $280 million of spending cuts and eliminated 147 government positions in his proposed plan.

Fourth, if Mr. O'Malley's plan is not implemented, the state will need to make cuts worth hundreds of millions of dollars in spending for schools, police, community colleges, libraries and Medicaid to balance the budget.

Mr. Ehrlich cut funds to higher education, and tuition at state universities increased about 40 percent during his term. Do we want to see that kind of thing happen again?

Do we want to move forward or backward? Do we want to be stronger or weaker?

Those are the choices.

Jim Kehl

Baltimore

Breathy Britney a bad role model

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