2017-11-11 / Viewpoints


PMS got it wrong

Dear editor:

I agree with the editorial in your Oct. 28 edition by Nicole Jacobs (“Pa. Medical Society blew this one”). PMS’s call for a moratorium on hydraulic fracturing for gas production is complete foolishness.

This operation has been performed extensively in Pennsylvania for many years and there has been no evidence of illness from the practice. Moreover, compared with other industries, there have been minimal accidents involving spilled chemicals and permanent environmental impacts.

It’s important to note the net benefit of natural gas exploration, which the Pa. Medical Society and many others fail to acknowledge. Using natural gas means less burning of oil and coal, which results in better air quality. This in turn results in fewer deaths due to asthma and other respiratory diseases.

Halting natural gas exploration would slow the reduction in the use of oil and coal and have a calculable detrimental effect on Pennsylvania residents.

Pennsylvania heavily regulates shale gas drilling and ensures it is done as safely as possible. The Pa. Medical Society’s statement lacks technical merit and should be retracted.

If doctors really want to protect public health by proposing moratoriums, consider banning junk food and cigarettes.

James Cinelli

Pipeline myths

Dear editor:

Thank you for your recent article that recognized the importance of a pipelines to usher Pennsylvania’s shale gas resources to market (“Crash Course on Shale Gas,” Oct. 21 edition).

Some environmental justice advocates say pipelines are at odds with the environment. But pipelines are safe for people and the environment. Major pipeline companies are committed to safety, often times exceeding federal requirements and industry standards through rigorous inspections, testing, and ever-advancing technology.

Gas pipeline leaks dropped 94 percent between 1984 and 2012. As technology improves, the numbers will only continue to get better -- both in terms of safety and in terms of energy connectivity.

As a structure that is almost totally buried underground, a pipeline network is designed with multiple layers of safety features working together to mitigate impact to the environment and protect sensitive environmental areas.

Pipelines create thousands of good-paying jobs for those in construction, electrical, and welding trades. Pipeline infrastructure also allows oil and gas supply to better meet demand, which lowers the price of fuel.

Their construction shouldn’t be a controversial or a divisive issue. They are an environmentally friendly and safe way to transport the energy that powers everyday lives. Given these facts, pipeline construction starts to look a lot less political and a lot more like a moral imperative for mankind.

Craig Stevens

(Editor’s Note: Craig Stevens is the spokesman for Grow America’s Infrastructure Now, a national coalition focused on promoting infrastructure investments.)

Clueless voters

Dear editor:

Most voters who headed to the voting booths this past Tuesday were clueless about the names of the candidates for 10 seats on Pennsylvania’s high court.

It’s hard to exaggerate the significance of these courts, handling appeals on a wide variety of civil and criminal matters. Democracy functions on the basis of an informed electorate electing its leaders. Pennsylvania voters were anything but well-informed.

Another problem is the low turnout typical in off-year elections. Consequently, issues that should have little or no relevance, such as ballot position, party endorsements or fundraising advantage, typically determine who wins. Cycle after cycle, the money spent grows dramatically. More and more of it comes from law firms and other special interests that often have cases in front of these courts.

Many believe the solution is a merit selection system. It might have a diverse nominating commission of citizens, former judges, and gubernatorial and legislative appointees evaluating the credentials, conducting interviews, checking backgrounds, and recommending to the governor the names of qualified potential court nominees. Appointees would need confirmation by the State Senate.

Merit systems are not perfect. Sometimes they have proved elitist. They are simply the better of two imperfect choices and are a solid alternative to the electoral roulette we now use.

G. Terry Madonna

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