Letters To The Editor 3/18/2019

March 18, 2019 GMT

New water rules

Editor: The Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers have proposed a new plan to clarify what bodies of water and areas around waterways should be regulated by the federal government in conjunction with the Clean Water Act.

A proposal has been drafted to replace a flawed rule that was introduced in 2015. That rule was challenged in courts because of its vague, broad and confusing provisions that provided unprecedented authority for government to regulate land use. The rule has been struck down by courts in 28 states and has never been implemented.

Farmers want clean water and clear rules. We are encouraged by the new proposed rule. Farmers across Pennsylvania and the United States are committed to protecting America’s waterways and drinking water. The new rule should provide us with the regulatory certainty we need to farm confidently and ensure that we implement practices to protect our natural resources.

Additionally, comprehensive state regulations protect waterways from farm runoff. Furthermore, any modification to the Clean Water Act will not change or weaken the Safe Drinking Water Act, which is the primary federal law that protects all public drinking water supplies.

Pennsylvania farmers deeply care about environmental issues, such as healthy soil and water quality, and they take positive actions on their farms to prevent soil erosion and runoff from farmland. Farmers understand that some surface waters should be regulated by the federal government, while others should fall under state jurisdictions. We, however, think farmers should be able to look across their property and be able to tell what is a federally regulated area without having to hire lawyers, environmental engineers and consultants.

During the public comment period, which runs through April 15, we encourage farmers and other interested parties to offer their thoughts on the new proposed rule.




No nuclear bailout

Editor: The push is on in the Pennsylvania Legislature to bail out the nuclear power industry, particularly Exelon, the owner of Three Mile Island near Harrsiburg.

Apparently, the Legislature is considering paying back Exelon for all the campaign money the company has contributed to politicians. Taxpayers should contact their representative, senator, the governor and the state Public Utility Commission and tell them that under no circumstances should the nuclear industry in Pennsylvania be bailed out in any amount for any reason.

We are being extorted by Exelon’s scare tactics and bullying. Exelon considers Pennsylvania a cash cow and now the company wants to milk us even more. Ratepayers have seen their electric bills go up wherever state governments have knuckled under to the nuclear lobby and bailed them out. There is no reason the free market can’t sort out the problems Exelon has. It is not the ratepayers’ fault that Exelon is losing money on some reactors, it is Exelon’s fault for bad management. It’s also not the ratepayers’ responsibility to open their wallets so Exelon gets the profit it seeks.

Pennsylvania already has some of the highest electric rates in the country, courtesy of the PUC and the unwillingness of the Legislature to protect ratepayers. If they allow a bailout of Exelon and other nuclear companies, they will betray every ratepayer in the commonwealth.




Let market prevail

Editor: Pennsylvanians are increasingly seeing lower energy costs thanks to a restructured electricity market, a diversity of available energy sources and the increased use of both natural gas and renewable energy.

Restructuring reinvigorated competition within our energy sector and helped to strengthen our economy and lower costs for consumers. Competition, innovation, efficiency and sustainability are the driving forces behind our electricity grid, which is more diverse than ever.

As an added benefit, the market is moving us toward energy that helps improve our environment. PJM Interconnection, our regional grid operator, has publicly confirmed this restructured market works so well that the electricity grid is becoming more reliable and resilient and will remain so even if we increasingly move away from one energy source to another.

The nuclear industry, however, has failed to keep up with the times. In 2018, PJM Interconnection’s Independent Market Monitor calculated that Pennsylvania’s nuclear power plants were projected to have made more than $600 million in profits. Despite these profits, these same corporations are lobbying in Harrisburg for a ratepayer-funded subsidy.

If our legislators go along with this, it could seriously damage our market by undoing many benefits of the competitive market by taking away choice and forcing energy consumers to purchase energy generated by nuclear power no matter how much it costs. I urge legislators to oppose this bailout.




Pay in advance

Editor: I’ve read letters recently about the problems folks have paying their Lackawanna County property taxes.

There have been nightmare stories about waiting in line to pay in person and long delays in being credited if you decide to pay by mail. Well, add me to the list. I mailed my payment on Feb. 18 and it took three weeks to clear.

I guess next year, in order to get the end-of-February discount, I’ll have to mail in my payment before I get my bill.




Eliminate hassle

Editor: Writers who have complained about paying their taxes at the new Lackawanna County Government Center should be aware that there is an easy way to eliminate that aggravation.

They don’t have to look for a place to park, struggle to find elevators that work or stand in line for a long time.

They can pay by mail. For the cost of two postage stamps, two envelopes, one addressed to the collector of taxes and the other self-addressed, the problem would be solved.

Taxpayers don’t even have leave home. Just clip it to the mailbox and the mail carrier will take it to the post office.