The Baltimore Sun

Coast Guard shows LNG plan is unsafe

Last week, the U.S. Coast Guard erased any doubt that a proposal to locate a liquefied natural gas terminal in Eastern Baltimore County poses serious security threats to the region ("LNG security questioned," Feb. 28).

The Coast Guard's report, which focuses on whether AES Corp. could safely transport LNG up the Chesapeake Bay, confirms the fears that Baltimore County Executive James T. Smith Jr. and other county officials have harbored about this project since its inception.

Tankers carrying LNG would require a staggering array of security measures, the Coast Guard says, including armed escorts, shore-side surveillance patrols, aerial reconnaissance, video surveillance and periodic inspection by divers.

Corp.'s assurances that the plant would be safe ring hollow in light of these findings.

And the report covers only the risks associated with transporting LNG up the bay.

As the county's director of homeland security and emergency management, I am equally concerned - indeed, more concerned - about the dangers of having massive amounts of a highly flammable gas concentrated in a plant in the middle of a metropolis.

The Coast Guard's report has intensified Baltimore County's opposition to this project.

We will do everything possible to protect the Dundalk and Turners Station communities and the region by pressing AES Corp. to withdraw its ill-conceived proposal immediately.

Richard Muth


Speed cameras alter the burden of proof

The Sun's editorial "Cameras deter speeders" (Feb. 27) overlooks an important point about these Orwellian devices: Speed cameras violate our most basic principles of justice about the presumption of innocence and the burden of proof.

In America, a defendant is presumed innocent until proved guilty. The government bears the burden of proving that a violation has been committed and that the person charged is the one who committed it - that is, unless you are charged by a speed camera.

Since the camera cannot identify the driver, a ticket is simply issued to the vehicle's owner.

The Sun suggests that the remedy for an innocent owner is to submit an affidavit identifying the guilty person.

But the idea that a defendant must not only prove his or her innocence but also track down and identify the guilty party is un-American and establishes a dangerous precedent.

Let's leave law enforcement to the police - not automated ticket machines whose primary purpose is to raise revenue, not promote safety.

Larry R. Myers


Cameras just ploy to raise revenues

There is no need for speed cameras ("Speeders don't like snitches, either," Feb. 25).

Driving 36 miles per hour in a 25 mph zone or 41 miles per hour in a 30 mph zone is not a dangerous threat to people's lives.

The cameras merely harass normally law-abiding citizens to put a few more bucks in the public pot.

Dan Vona


Meyerhoff collection an asset for county

The Jane and Robert Meyerhoff collection of postmodern works is a phenomenal and world-class art collection ("Museum proposed in rural Balto. Co.," Feb. 27).

An extraordinary setting for it is in place. And the National Gallery of Art can be trusted to operate this unique collection properly.

No member of the Baltimore County Council should wish to see the Meyerhoffs' gift to this region be sent elsewhere.

Betsey Heuisler


Don't limit learning to the school year

The Center on Education Policy's study on the effects of the No Child Left Behind law documents the major changes that parents, students and teachers have seen in classrooms in Baltimore and across the country over the past five years ("Reading, math eat up class hours," Feb. 21).

More and more instruction time is devoted to reading and math, with other subjects, such as art, science, social studies and music, being shortchanged.

The implications of this trend are important and should be addressed by policymakers. But it's also important to realize that not all learning takes place during the school year.

High-quality summer learning programs provide a wonderful opportunity for students and teachers to spend time on music, drama and even sailing, all while improving literacy and other academic skills.

Research has shown that summer enrichment programs can help narrow the achievement gap that the NCLB law seeks to close.

Policymakers need to commit to fund initiatives such as the Summer Term Education Program for Upward Performance - a program that Congress has authorized but still awaits funding - which would provide the first federal funding exclusively for summer learning opportunities for disadvantaged youths in America.

The program would help all students have a well-rounded education experience, no matter how much their parents earn.

Ron Fairchild


The writer is executive director of the Center for Summer Learning at the Johns Hopkins University.

A chilling reminder of police practices

As a skateboarder and former Baltimore resident, I was appalled but not surprised by the video showing the brutal treatment of a skater by Officer Salvatore Rivieri ("Lessons from 'Cop vs. Skater,'" Opinion

Commentary, Feb. 20).

The video is an example of the out-of-control intimidation some police officers direct toward skateboarders.

If this is the treatment a young, white skateboarder gets in one of the most public places in the city, I shudder to think about the mistreatment African-Americans suffer daily at the hands of the police.

Chris Tallent

Providence, R.I.

State can be leader in fighting warming

The letter "Global warming bill only hurts citizens" (Feb. 23) claims that "the global warming initiative by Gov. Martin O'Malley will have the impact on the environment that a flea has by landing on an elephant."

This suggests that the writer believes either that humans are not causing global warming - a claim that flies in the face of scientific evidence - or that Maryland is too small for our actions to have much effect on warming.

The latter argument has some validity: Maryland cannot halt global warming on its own.

However, with the federal government showing no leadership on this issue, states are forced to act.

The more states pass strong anti-climate change legislation, the more the federal government will be pressured to do the same thing.

Maryland has a chance to set the standard against which future climate legislation will be judged.

We must act now.

Ben Lefstein


The writer is a member of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network.

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