Letters To The Editor


May 28, 2008

Let county collect from the polluters

The Sun's article about Anne Arundel County Executive John R. Leopold's reaction to the veto of legislation that would have required the Maryland Department of the Environment to reimburse Anne Arundel County for its costs for residential water well sampling near the BBSS fly ash disposal site may mislead readers ("O'Malley veto assailed," May 23).

In this case, MDE took the third-largest enforcement action in its history by requiring BBSS to pay to connect the homes whose water was affected by the pollution to a permanent public water supply, mandating remediation of groundwater contamination, stopping fly ash disposal until the disposal site is upgraded to meet modern landfill standards and making the polluters pay a $1 million penalty.

Any implication that the MDE knew of contamination in residential drinking water wells and let it continue is blatantly incorrect.

At the BBSS site, MDE detected a rise in contaminant levels in monitoring wells near residences and initiated an investigation. This prompted further investigation that led to the discovery of contaminants in an off-site drinking water well.

The Anne Arundel County Health Department then immediately initiated sampling of additional residential wells. It has done, and continues to do, first-class work.

The county should be reimbursed for its costs by the company that caused the pollution. Indeed, MDE has repeatedly suggested to the county that it seek reimbursement from BBSS.

Unfortunately, the legislation the governor vetoed not only shifted the costs to state taxpayers but also failed to establish a statewide system that would allow local governments to recover such environmental costs.

The MDE looks forward to working with all local health departments to craft an effective statewide solution in the future.

Shari Wilson, Baltimore

The writer is secretary of the Maryland Department of the Environment.

Conservation is conservative value

State Sen. Minority Leader David R. Brinkley is quoted in The Sun as saying that imposing more restrictions on development and greenhouse gases to save Maryland's Eastern Shore would be a bad thing.

"I think it would be harmful for the economy. But they don't care about that," the senator said. "They don't care about people's lives or livelihoods. They are on this almost religious fervor, this left environmental movement. They claim most of it's based on science, and I think most of it is based on faith and fear" ("Outlook is bleak for state shoreline," May 23).

That sentiment is not an expression of genuine conservatism. Indeed, for many conservatives, conservation is a religious priority based on faith and good stewardship.

Reason demands that we find a balance between libertarian and communitarian interests - one in which avoiding the destruction of our irreplaceable resources takes precedence.

Anthony Cobb, Catonsville

The writer is a member of the board of ConservAmerica.

Commuter links can save fuel

As for $4 gas, I say, enjoy it, as there is every indication that the price of oil will continue to rise ("Living with $4 gas," editorial, May 14).

Yes, we will all have to learn how to cope, and many alternatives are being offered to ease the pain.

In time, people will trade their gas-guzzlers for more fuel-efficient vehicles and make greater use of mass transit. But more trains and buses will be needed for this to happen, and that will take time and money.

But as the editorial pointed out, one of our most wasteful uses of energy is for commuting. Connecting more drivers with others going to similar destinations would help.

Most cars currently driven to work have three or four empty seats. If these cars could be filled, not only would the riders be able to save precious gas dollars for other essential purposes but traffic congestion would be greatly reduced.

The Maryland Department of Transportation should set up a Web site at which those who have fairly regular and similar work schedules and commuting patterns could be matched.

Norman Shillman, Baltimore

Partnership protects trade

I think The Sun's article on the Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (C-TPAT) is yet another effort to scare the public ("Cargo checks lacking, GAO says," May 27).

That may make good headlines, but C-TPAT has been in existence for five years and has proved effective without (and this is important) inhibiting international trade. It has worked with the cooperation of all parties involved, public and private.

It would still be ineffective against a crazy person bent on havoc for its own sake. But 100 percent security against such a threat has proved impossible.

M. Sigmund Shapiro, Baltimore

The writer is chairman of a freight brokerage firm that is part of the C-TPAT program.

Let's remember who pays the agents

I found it suspect that Donna Owens' article "Rules of Engagement" (May 25) failed to mention one of the most basic of rules in the purchase of residential real estate.

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