USF says government tried to squelch their oil plume findings | Aug. 10
Working together for the gulf
The nearly four months since the blowout in the Deepwater Horizon oil well have created an enormous amount of despair and tension for this community as well as the entire gulf region. We have all come to appreciate even more how our well-being is connected to the health of the Gulf of Mexico.
I write regarding this Aug. 10 article in hopes of offering some additional insight on what has transpired in the scientific community during this difficult time.
The article is largely accurate but outdated in reflecting what occurred in the relationship between USF's College of Marine Science and our counterparts at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration during the early weeks of the spill. But that is not the whole story, and the public should know that tensions which occurred in the first months of the spill have evolved to become a cooperative working relationship. We have not relented in our position that the public deserves timely, accurate and responsible scientific information and our two agencies are committed to working together for the benefit of the public we both serve.
This week, NOAA director Jane Lubchenco, National Marine Fisheries chief scientist Steve Murawski and NMFS regional administrator Roy Crabtree met with me and several of our leading researchers at the USF College of Marine Science, Florida State University and Mote Marine Laboratory. The meeting was extremely productive and was a welcomed sign of the administration's willingness to reach out to academic researchers.
We recommended NOAA undertake a coordinated scientific effort to determine fate of Deepwater Horizon oil, work toward increased funding for coastal observing systems and design a long-term monitoring program with academic researchers. Our meeting charted a way forward for NOAA and university researchers.
The Deepwater Horizon incident has been frustrating for all of us, but we have not lost sight of the fact that this has been an economic hardship — and even disaster — for some of our neighbors. We need to learn from the past and move forward in an efficient and effective manner to address the potential long-term effects of this spill. As public agencies we must do all we can to restore the gulf and make it better than it was before this catastrophic event.
William Hogarth, Dean, USF College of Marine Science
NRC backs Levy nuke plant | Aug. 10, story
Nuke plant merits rejection
It's no surprise that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission is giving a thumbs-up to a new nuke plant in rural, wooded Levy County. Even less surprising is that they found that "impacts on the environment would be small to moderate."
With negative impacts to adjacent streams and rivers from cooling water outflow, on the 765 acres of vital wetlands that would be destroyed, not to mention the permanent fragmentation of other nearby ecosystems, storage/transfer of spent fuel (to name a few problems with nuclear plants), it's laughable that the NRC calls these impacts "small to moderate." I'd hate to see what they consider severe ones.
Anyone who ascribes to the "pay as you go" approach should be very upset, as most Progress Energy customers no doubt are over the pre-payment scheme that has them paying almost $7 per 1,000 kilowatt hours now for something that doesn't yet exist, and whose cost will probably far exceed today's estimated $17.2 billion to $22.5 billion price tag.
I encourage all citizens who believe our state does not need another nuclear power plant, to submit your opposition to this proposal to the NRC as soon as possible.
Ron Thuemler, Florida master naturalist, Tampa
Florida's solar future very cloudy | Aug. 8
Solar energy is certainly the way to go, especially in Florida, the Sunshine State.
I am a customer of Progress Energy and have been paying for a power plant that has not even been started and I doubt it will be. Are we going to get a refund of our money? Maybe when pigs fly.
Now the power companies are talking about building more plants in spite of a decrease in population and lower need for electricity. Of course they are talking about passing the cost on to the customer again.
Between the cost of the plant that has not been built, the future plants, if they take place, and the repairs to the Crystal River plant, maybe we all should go back to manual fans, battery operated lights and get the ice man back in business
Enough. Let's do it right this time and invest in wind and solar.
Jean Centore, New Port Richey
Matters of survival
For the first time in Earth's 4.5 billion year history, a species has developed sophisticated technologies with the capability of effectively destroying itself and every other species. I refer to nuclear weapons specifically but also threats to our ecosystem manifested by the industrial revolution. I fear we do not yet understand the vulnerabilities. Deficiencies in scientific literacy and politicization of the issues exacerbate the problem.
The left tends to overplay the evidence for man-made climate change in their anticapitalistic zeal. But the other side seems arrogantly and irresponsibly overconfident. How can they be so sure that continuously spewing chemicals into our thin atmosphere will have no consequences? Indeed, the question isn't whether the Earth is getting warmer. The question is why?
I challenge both sides to use sound principles of logic and careful decisionmaking free from emotion on complex issues of such profound consequences.
Mark A. Wilson, Wesley Chapel
Some basic steps
The talk of immigration reform has started, so let me give you three ways to get immigration reform.
1. Increase border security with more boots on the ground and complete the fence on the southern border. This can be paid for by decreasing the aid to Mexico by the amount needed to secure the border. (Jobs for American veterans)
2. Repeal the 14th Amendment Section 1 (anchor baby rule).
3. Allow immigrants who have not taken public aid (welfare or Medicaid) or have no felony records to stay by paying a fine and registering within one year of the passage of legislation. If they do not register, have a felony record or have been on public assistance, they are returned to their home country.
If you want the people's support, this would be a good start.
James F. Dahmer, Tampa
Immigration and the 14th Amendment
An economic solution
I believe all logic and reason have left us as to how to address the immigration problem. It is all a case of economics. If business cannot outsource our industries and services, then the next best thing is to bring in cheap labor.
Want to solve the problem? Go after those businesses that hire illegals and hit them in the pocketbook. That seems to be the only language that is understood in the business community.
To say that ordinary Americans would not do the work is ludicrous. If living wages were paid, we could get anyone to work at these jobs. Look at those who work in the coal mines. Nothing could be more hazardous to a person's health and well being. Yet thousands work at these jobs because they pay well and are organized.
Jack Levine, Palm Harbor
Gay marriage ban overturned | Aug. 5
It is a state interest
With all due respect to Vaughn R. Walker, chief judge of the Federal District Court in San Francisco, it is my opinion that his statement — "Excluding same-sex couples from marriage is simply not rationally related to a legitimate state interest" — is false.
A "legitimate state interest," to me, in this case is the sanction of normal heterosexual marriage. Homosexual unions represent abnormal behavior and should be neither legitimized nor sanctioned.
Anita M. Knapp, St. Petersburg