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Lettters to the Editor

August 28, 2008

Drilling argument is shrill - and wrong



To the editor:

I am responding to Tom Mooningham's letter published Aug. 23. I disagree with Mooningham on two counts and probably many more.

First, I am angered by his name-calling. He characterized those not holding his view as "wackos, weirdos and freaks." He goes on to label those who oppose oil drilling on the U.S. continental shelf (which he supports) as "idiots."

He then proceeds to label those who oppose the use of various power sources as "environmental nuts." He shouts down evidence of global warming as "blah, blah, blah." He writes this without a single, specific shred of evidence.

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Unfortunately, this kind of bully tactic - shouting down and denigrating those who think differently than you rather than debating the issues - has become commonplace in the U.S. over that past 20 years. I find it disgusting.

Second, I disagree with Mooningham's solution to "Drill! Drill! Drill!" I disagree for many reasons, but I will discuss just one. The real debate is not our ability to drill for oil; oil companies have many promising oil leases in the U.S. already. They could drill these now, but are not.

The real debate is whether or not to open the outer continental shelf for drilling. But if oil companies already have leases, why are they so shrill about opening more now?

The answer: Because if they do it quickly, they can bilk the U.S. government and the taxpayer out of billions. Here is the situation - oil companies have exploited a loophole in the Deep Water Royalty Relief Act of 1995 (DWRRA) which has allowed 24 companies to avoid paying $1.3 billion in royalties to the U.S. government for drilling in the Gulf of Mexico.

What's more, these same companies will avoid paying an additional $60 billion if they get leases for the outer continental shelf now before the problem legislation is fixed. About half of these oil companies are foreign. And guess who gets to make up this difference in government revenue?

To read the letter to Congress from the Department of Interior outlining the problem see

www.citizen.org/documents/AlfredLetter.pdf.

Interestingly, the push to open new offshore sites for drilling comes from an advertising campaign funded by Newt Gingrich's American Solutions for Winning the Future. Gingrich was Speaker of the House when Congress passed the DWRRA in 1995.

It would be irresponsible to open the outer continental shelf to drilling until this flawed law is fixed.

Larry Zaleski
Hagerstown







Joining hands to help seniors



To the editor:

No one is surprised that we are in the middle of an economic crisis, especially seniors. The cost of fuel and food has created a climate where many must choose between medical care, heating a home or eating; everyone is impacted.

Seniors have been especially hard hit because they live on a fixed income.

The time has come for a reckoning, a reckoning by our elected officials that something must be done before we find our seniors dropping off the face of the earth because they can no longer cope with the necessities of life.

How will this reckoning occur? The Hagerstown Chapter of the National Active and Retired Federal Employees (NARFE), together with the Washington County Commission On Aging Advisory Committee, has created a Washington County Senior Coalition.

This coalition consists of retired teachers, musicians, public employees, laborers, troopers and members of concerned civic organizations. The mission of this coalition is to obtain relief for the woes of the county's seniors.

Our mission includes seeking legislative and fiscal relief. To this end, we are pleased that the Washington County delegation to the Maryland General Assembly has recognized this problem and has agreed to participate in a senior forum with Washington County's seniors.

This forum will be scheduled in the near future and our goal is to acquaint the delegation with our needs; moreover, our goal is to seek commitment from the delegation to provide legislative relief to the problems confronted by today's seniors.

Edward C. Wurmb III
Member, Advisory Council
Washington County Commission on Aging

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