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.
The fact is that, unless one hires a buyer's agent, the agents on both sides of a real estate transaction are working for and responsible to the home seller, not the buyer.
The commissions paid to the listing and selling agents come out of the sellers' proceeds, and the agent's obligation to the seller remains paramount.
To overlook such a significant issue in an essay billed as "The Rules of Engagement" is, frankly, pathetic.
Stephan G. Fugate, Perry Hall
The writer is a former real estate agent.
Remark on Kennedy shows Clinton unfit
Sen. Hillary Clinton's remark about staying in the nomination race and the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy Jr. clearly provided a reason that she is staying in the race - on the chance that Sen. Barack Obama will be assassinated ("Clinton apologizes," May 24).
But her remark was insensitive and provides a clear reason that Mrs. Clinton is not the best candidate to lead the country, either as president or vice president.
George Stephanik, Nottingham
Playing politics with troop levels?
I was really not surprised when Gen. David Petraeus announced that there may be further U.S. troop reductions in Iraq in the fall ("Further troop withdrawal seen likely," May 23).
It is not a coincidence that this would be right in time for the presidential election, and that Sen. John McCain could use that change to bolster his claim that we are on the way to victory in Iraq.
As usual, President Bush is using the military to advance his own concerns and attempt to influence the election.
Marilynn Gordon, Reisterstown
'Fallen' much more than mere numbers
Thank you for the front-page article on "Fallen soldiers" (May 26) and the editorial "Remembering Maryland's fallen" (May 26).
The photographs of the men and women who will not be returning home no matter when the troops are withdrawn from the Afghan and Iraq wars broke my heart.
But I am glad that The Sun gave us the opportunity to see the faces of these young people, who are not just statistics but loved sons and daughters, husbands and wives.
Each photo represents a life cut short and a family suffering unspeakable loss.
To the editorial's remark, "May they all rest in peace," I would add, "In their honor, may we all work for peace and for a world that spends less on weapons and more on nonviolent efforts to solve international conflict."
The least we can do is to be volunteers for peace so that war as a method of resolving conflict will become obsolete.
Phyllis S. Yingling, Catonsville
The writer is a member of the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom.