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Thursday's letters: Fracking puts Floridians' health at risk

An Allegiant Air passenger aircraft is parked on the tarmac at St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport in April. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD]

An Allegiant Air passenger aircraft is parked on the tarmac at St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport in April. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD]


Fracking harmful to public health

Bills to allow natural gas fracking are racing through the Florida Legislature at such a pace that our legislators can't possibly have the time to understand the science and risks and make well-informed decisions for the citizens of Florida.

Fracking means injecting water and chemicals, many toxic, into the ground to release trapped natural gas. Millions of gallons of polluted wastewater are injected back into the earth, left in open pits or trucked elsewhere for disposal, threatening water supplies.

The Florida Medical Association and the American Medical Association studied the provisions of Florida's bills and adopted policies stating that these bills threaten human health. The doctors oppose the lack of water testing, the secrecy provisions that allow drillers to put any chemical into the Floridan aquifer without telling us, and the absence of serious safety studies.

As doctors, we have an obligation to protect our patients' health. Extensive scientific and peer-reviewed medical literature has found fracking harms public health. The effects range from headaches, rashes and nosebleeds to more serious neurologic problems, infertility, birth defects, potential for cancer, and an increased risk of premature births and miscarriages.

Fracking uses millions of gallons of potable water for each fracking well; this is water needed for drinking and agriculture. When our aquifer becomes contaminated or runs dry, then what's the plan, Tallahassee?

A majority of Floridians want to ban fracking. The best prescription for a healthy Florida is to keep fossil fuels in the ground.

Lynn Ringenberg, M.D., Tampa

1 jet, four safety alarms | Jan. 23

Safety accusations mislead

As Allegiant's CEO, I feel I must speak up. The story published on Jan. 23 repeats the faulty premise that something is wrong with Allegiant. Let me be clear: There is not.

As a growing business, we have garnered a new level of attention. That, coupled with contentious labor negotiations with the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, representing our pilots, creates a perfect storm of attacks and accusations. Examining airlines in similar disputes establishes a pattern of the Teamsters employing this destructive strategy.

Your paper repeatedly allows individuals affiliated with the Teamsters to manipulate your readers. Chris Moore of the Teamsters Aviation Mechanics Coalition has marketed misleading stories about Allegiant's safety record for months. This supposedly independent third party knows nothing about our operation and has zero credibility given their direct involvement with our labor negotiations. John Goglia, despite his accomplishments, has professional ties to the Teamsters and zero firsthand knowledge of our operation.

Misleading the public about safety is a common tactic of the Teamsters. While we expect manipulation from them, we — along with your readers — expect more from you. We welcome scrutiny, but you should scrutinize sources and understand conflicts of interest before printing irresponsible allegations.

Such allegations are a disservice to hundreds of committed aviation professionals who maintain and fly our aircraft and who exemplify our culture of safety. Many have been with Allegiant over a decade, far from the mere days worked by a former employee you cite as an expert. Acknowledging someone who spent little time or effort learning our operation and procedures, at the expense of dedicated, long-term Allegiant employees, is insulting.

I am proud of the thousands of aviation professionals who focus each day on our safe operations. I thank our maintenance employees for all their hard work and this community for their continued support.

Maurice J. Gallagher Jr., chairman & CEO, Allegiant Travel Co., Las Vegas

Florida Legislature

Just do your job, legislators

If you support guns on campus, open carry or further restrictions on women's health care options, please don't ask for my vote. I base my judgments on issues, not party.

Also, if you haven't been in a classroom since you left one, don't presume to tell educators how to do their job. Do provide them the resources needed.

Protect our streams and waterways. Foster small and existing businesses. And last but not least, balance the budget and get over all of the squabbling.

Connie Kone, St. Petersburg

Cash rolls in at vote time | Jan. 24

Selling themselves short

I was disappointed to read that three Hillsborough County commissioners took a paltry $11,200 from developers before voting to approve an apartment project rezoning. That's less than four grand a vote, and seems hardly enough.

Our county commissioners have a long tradition of trading gifts for votes when dealing with rezonings. In the past 15 years alone, development interests have given commissioners gifts that included half-million-dollar lakefront mansions, phantom jobs with big salaries and lavish trips to Las Vegas. The current crop of commissioners need to up their game or risk ruining this legacy.

Jim Swain, Odessa

Thursday's letters: Fracking puts Floridians' health at risk 01/27/16 [Last modified: Thursday, January 28, 2016 11:06am]
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