Take down barriers to solar power | May 25, editorial
Pressure utilities on solar power
We are the Sunshine State. We live it, we breathe it, we use it as the central theme in our culture and, most importantly, as the advertising engine to lure thousands of tourists to our state. It is the essence of our state. In decades past, an evening edition of the newspaper would be given free of charge when the sun didn't shine. Sunshine is our soul.
Why then are we not embracing the obvious opportunities available to our state when we possess an unlimited supply of a natural and abundant renewable power source? The citizens of this state need to pressure our unenlightened (pun intended) legislators who can't seem to break the bonds of Duke Power, the Public Service Commission and the other "public utilities" that insist on propagating the existing "fossil fuel folly" that not only costs us economically but also endangers us with pollutants.
Nuclear, coal and now natural gas all have the potential to harm Floridians. Natural gas seems to be the latest "flavor of the month," even though there has been no conversation about the documented dangers of methane gas leakage that are present wherever natural gas is fractured, piped or dispensed.
Why do we continue down a road with fuel sources that are finite and dangerous when we should be looking to the future with an abundant resource that can be captured, utilized and not be harmful to its users? Please implore your representatives to embrace the sunshine or elect ones who will.
Thomas A. Flora, Clearwater
Cure the oil addiction
This week America celebrated Memorial Day. From the American Revolution to the Afghanistan/Iraq wars, American men and women have paid the ultimate sacrifice on foreign battlefields to preserve our freedom and independence. But America is not free, and it's not independent when it concerns energy.
In 1973, after the Arab oil embargo was enacted, President Richard Nixon called on Americans to rise to the challenge. In an address to the nation, he said: "What I have called Project Independence 1980 is a series of plans and goals set to ensure that by the end of this decade, Americans will not have to rely on any source of energy beyond our own."
More than 40 years later, our OPEC oil addiction remains.
In 2013, Americans spent more on OPEC oil ($147 billion) than for our veterans ($140 billion) or education ($72 billion). And yet, under President Barack Obama, our dependence on foreign oil is at a 20-year low. Americans should demand a "Project Independence 2020."
Doug McClaugherty, Sarasota
Clock keeps ticking
It has been 52 years since the ground-breaking book by Rachel Carson, Silent Spring, gave birth to the global environmental movement. As much influence as the book may have had, there is still much more yet to be done. Roadblocks exist in the form of news channels that tout opinion polls to rebut scientific evidence that our planet is experiencing changes that cannot be undone.
Instead of cleaner energy, we stay addicted to oil and coal as the primary lifeblood of our economy. With the movers and shakers of the oil and coal industry pumping greater amounts of money into our political elections, it seems unlikely that any real change toward renewable energy can happen. Perhaps 52 years from now we will have seen enough to want to make the changes needed to keep our planet healthy.
Josh Arnold, Wesley Chapel
Poor use of meds at VA May 27
The pharmacists and doctors at Veterans Affairs hospitals in Florida do not use the very successful electronic pharmacy drug management program to track narcotic use. As a result, some veterans get thousands of pain pills through the mail between each six-month return visit for "chronic pain," a very real condition that, with some clever effort, can be faked or exaggerated.
Veterans who obtain these pain pills and don't use them all can sell them for $10 to $20 each. These pills then filter down to recreational narcotic use, resulting in new addicts and new overdose deaths.
Requiring VA hospitals to report to Florida's electronic monitoring program could produce lifesaving transparency to the part of the pain pill problem that is fueled by VA mail-order narcotics.
William Cross Dudney, M.D., Tampa
For our veterans, love they can see May 26, commentary
Coming home from war
While I agree with most of Leonard Pitts' message, I have a little different take.
I volunteered for the Army at 17 after graduating from high school and was put into Army Intelligence. I was young, naive and, above all, patriotic. I arrived in Phu Bai, Vietnam, just south of Hue, in 1968. During my time there, very little information was received from back home and we weren't allowed to send much back. It was a little bit like isolation in prison, and the food wasn't much better.
The worst part of Vietnam was coming home. Because we served there, we were despised. During my first day of college, a girl turned around and said, "Oh, you're one of those baby killers." Because of that, three other vets and myself kept to ourselves and didn't get involved in anything. It was more than 20 years before I could tell people I'd been there, and very rarely does anyone ask about it.
I am guilty of stopping military men and women in uniform and thanking them for their service. It would have been nice if someone had said those words to me back in the '70s.
Donald J. Etnier, Dolores, Colo.
By then, it was too late | May 24
Although I am saddened by the news of alleged misdiagnosis of the recent bladder cancer victim at the C.W. Bill Young VA Medical Center, my case is significantly different. As a patient at the center for over 30 years, I have received nothing but the finest and most prompt treatment possible. Having had several surgical procedures, all cancer-related including one for bladder cancer, I am at this point most thankful to be cancer-free (although missing a lung) and am often inundated with appointment reminders for treatment, consults and followups for various symptoms.
Some of those treatments have also included radiation at outside, private sources. All the superb care I receive is contrary to hue and cry of politicians who want to jump on the VA as a political tool in their clamor for re-election.
Charles Higgins, St. Petersburg