The Baltimore Sun

Limits on drilling squeeze oil supply

The Sun's article "Average gas price hits $4" (June 9) lamented that the price of gas has hit the "once-unthinkable milestone just in time for the peak summer travel season."

The article blamed "soaring demand in Asia and elsewhere," a "tumbling dollar" and "speculators, frustrated by low returns elsewhere, looking to make a quick profit."

Missing from The Sun's list of scapegoats are the Democrats in Congress, who have repeatedly and consistently prevented drilling for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

Of course, Democrats today often suggest that this wouldn't help because it would take 10 years to see anything produced from ANWR.

But if President Bill Clinton had not vetoed legislation in 1995 to permit oil drilling there, we could have an additional 27 million gallons of gasoline and diesel fuel from a million barrels of oil daily, which, as Democratic Sen. Charles E. Schumer noted on May 13 in a speech to the Senate, would cause the price of gasoline to fall "50 cents a gallon almost immediately."

The U.S. Minerals Management Service estimates that ANWR has about 85 billion barrels of oil and 420 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. This is 10 times the amount of oil and 20 times the natural gas that Americans use annually.

ANWR is larger than Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New Jersey and Delaware combined, yet drilling along its coastal plain would occur in a space one-sixth the size of Dulles International Airport.

In addition, The Sun conveniently omits the ban on offshore drilling along the East Coast that most Democrats support.

Today, Cuba and China are drilling 60 miles off the Florida coast, taking oil that Americans are forbidden from tapping.

Concerned about oil spills?

Hurricanes Rita and Katrina damaged or destroyed hundreds of offshore drilling rigs without causing a single large spill, and it has been almost 30 years since a major spill involving an offshore rig occurred.

Marylanders, like the Saudis, can thank the Democratic Party for our high gas prices.

Doug Dribben, Woodstock

Here's an 11th Commandment for the U.S. Congress: Thou shalt not crucify American drivers, or any other American, upon a cross of environmentalism.

Elliot Deutsch, Bel Air

Punitive approach will not stop crime

Thank you, Gregory Kane, for visiting the Maryland Correctional Training Center with the volunteers from American Friends Service Committee to witness the graduation of men from our mentoring program ("'Friends' target prison violence," June 7).

Maryland has a very punitive and racist criminal justice system in which many prisoners are incarcerated (mostly people of color and the poor) for more than 20 years without meaningful consideration for release.

They often serve long sentences for drug charges for things they did trying to feed their families in communities where there are no jobs and few resources.

Many of these men and women have changed their lives and are changing the lives of younger people entering prison. We need those prisoners released into the community so that they can work in crime prevention and intervention programs that will prevent more people from going to prison.

Obviously, policing and imprisonment don't work to stop crime.

Let's get moving in a progressive direction by reducing our reliance on police and prisons, ending the war on drugs and using the money saved to put resources back into the communities where they belong.

Then we might have some true justice.

Laurie Bezold, Baltimore

The writer chairs a committee of the American Friends Service Committee that oversees its prison mentorship program.

Immigrants' work boosts economy

I know that some people will cheer the fact that immigrants without documentation were rounded up in Iowa ("Iowa immigration raid felt in Pikesville stores," June 6).

But they needed a place to live. They paid their rent.

They had to eat. They bought food. They bought other things, too. They paid taxes.

The immigrants helped the economy of Postville, Iowa. And indeed, immigrants throughout the country, with or without papers, are helping our economy.

They need jobs. We need them to work.

Let's let them be.

Bob Swensen, Glen Arm

Pikesville poorer for raid on plant

While federal authorities are obviously within the law to raid sites they believe harbor illegal immigrant workers, I wonder whether these investigations are random or selective ("Postville to Pikesville," editorial, June 8).

Was this Postville raid prompted by a tip from a member of the local community who was annoyed at the presence of a kosher meat-packing plant in that region or by local ire at the number of immigrants in the area?

Whatever it was, certainly the kosher community in Pikesville is poorer for the raids, as are those who once worked at the plant.

Nelson Marans, Silver Spring

'Alcopops' policy consistent with past

C. Fraser Smith's column "On 'alcopops' bill, O'Malley's ideals succumb to politics" (Commentary, June 1) was based on the inaccurate premise that Gov. Martin O'Malley's decision to uphold the long-standing Maryland policy on "alcopops" was irresponsible.

Furthermore, postulating that changing their tax treatment and classification would somehow tackle the serious problem of underage drinking is simply incorrect.

The governor's decision to tax and regulate flavored beer products as beer, which continues a policy that has been in place in Maryland for more than 40 years, was just plain logical and is consistent with the policies of 47 other states and the federal government.

Changing where alcopops can be sold would not address the real issues involved in underage drinking.

The heart of the underage drinking problem lies with the primary source of alcohol to minors: adults. Studies suggest that two-thirds of youths who drink get alcohol from adult family members or friends.

Mr. O'Malley took a meaningful step in the right direction by signing legislation that increases the penalties for adults who knowingly furnish alcohol to minors.

Let's stop playing the blame game and start working together to combat underage drinking.

Guy L. Smith, Norwalk, Conn.

The writer is a vice president of a liquor distribution firm.

Racism not motive of Clinton voters

Sen. Hillary Clinton ran an outstanding race. Depending on how one chooses to count, she earned either the most or the second-most primary votes in history.

For Susan Reimer to suggest that she did so well just because Sen. Barack Obama's race turned off many voters (and not because of her merit) not only diminishes Mrs. Clinton but belittles her voters as well ("Voters may exit with Clinton," June 10).

The exit polls show that Mrs. Clinton earned most of her votes because she connected with voters who thought she was the best candidate to fix our dysfunctional health care system and ease our economic inequality.

Come November, those of Mrs. Clinton's voters who were moved by her ideas will vote for Mr. Obama - the candidate who won handily in the primary in the 98 percent white state of Oregon.

Andrew Stolbach, Baltimore

The writer has been a volunteer for Sen. Barack Obama's presidential campaign.

A chance to raze Taney sculpture

With the State House closed for renovation and its grounds torn up by construction, now is the perfect time to remove the statue of former Supreme Court Chief Justice Roger Taney from its grounds and, with due decorum, move it to a museum or state archives facility.

The statue has historical and artistic value. But Taney's most notable act as chief justice - authorship of the Dred Scott decision - justifies its removal.

In the Dred Scott ruling, Taney did not just require return to their owners of enslaved persons on then-constitutional grounds (which would be excusable in a jurist), but he also gratuitously and attacked blacks as beings of little or no inherent worth.

Frederick Mattis, Annapolis

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