1. Letters to the Editor

Wednesday's letters: Fracking puts Florida water at risk

Published Apr. 28, 2015

Fracking bill advances | April 24

Fracking puts our water in danger

Two controversial fracking bills in the Legislature purport to regulate and protect the environment from fracking, but they would do the opposite. Rep. Ray Rodrigues, R-Estero, sponsored HB 1205 and HB 1209 and has put out misleading information about them.

Rodrigues claims HB 1205 ensures that groundwater resources are not contaminated. This is misleading and impossible to do. Hundreds of cases of groundwater contamination resulting from fracking have been documented. Overwhelming evidence shows fracking to be unsafe and destructive.

Rodrigues says these bills create a public disclosure of chemicals used during fracking. Not only is this a disingenuous statement, the opposite is written into the companion bills SB 1468 and SB 1582, allowing oil companies to withhold disclosure from the public. In reality, the bill states: "requires (Department of Environmental Protection) to designate national chemical registry as the state's registry."

Although Rodrigues touts the fact that a study on fracking will be required, this is a delay of only a few months. There is no doubt as to the outcome of this study. The DEP has already said fracking is safe. Rodrigues' bill also prohibits counties, municipalities or other political subdivisions of the state from banning or regulating fracking.

These bills go against the will of the voters who approved Amendment 1. That our lawmakers in Tallahassee would allow this to happen cannot be the result of their trying to do what is good for Florida, and it can't be that they are trying to represent their constituents, since they received overwhelming feedback against these bills. Then why would they support these bills?

Merrillee Malwitz-Jipson, president, Our Santa Fe River and Save Our Suwannee, and Jim Tatum, Our Santa Fe River historian, Fort White

American values

A culture of selfishness

Why is life presumed to be so dangerous in our nation that we permit adults to possess and carry concealable guns? This question exposes inconvenient truths about our society.

There is a crucial difference between American cultural and social values. Our cultural values are expressed through traditions that inspired the Declaration of Independence and Constitution.

Our social values express lower brain center emotions and reflect what is important in the present, such as personal comfort and the freedom to do as we wish.

A 2010 World Values Survey described the United States as high in "self-expression values" and low in "rational-secular values" and concluded that Americans are devoted more to getting what they want than to cultivating virtues.

Our society actually can be characterized as dehumanizing, materialistic, individualistic, erotogenic and fascinated by violence. Conscientious parents know this and must contend daily with these powerful influences on their children.

Our society dehumanizes homeless people who live on the streets like wild animals. Dehumanization also is seen in the shift from face-to-face to one-way communication to scores, even hundreds, of "friends."

Materialism is evident in the way we admire the wealthy and celebrities more than dedicated volunteers and professionals who serve the public.

Individualism is apparent in the self-centered way in which many of us live our lives without planning ahead and considering the impact of our behavior on others.

Erotogenic behavior is evident in the erotic behavior and language in public entertainment. Modesty no longer is seen as a desirable quality.

We are fascinated by violent videos, games and movies — the louder the explosions, the better. No wonder fear, anger, envy and greed are prevalent emotions in our society.

Until we face these inconvenient truths, our society will not reflect our underlying cultural values based on the common good.

Jack C. Westman, M.D., professor emeritus of psychiatry, University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, Madeira Beach

Pasco recycling

Room for improvement

Pasco County needs once-a-week recycling service. Today, our recyclables far outweigh our disposables, and if you miss your pickup day, you'll go four weeks without service. We should use one container for paper products and one for all numbered items, glass and especially plastic bags, with a once-per-week pickup schedule. Stop twice-a-week trash pickup and make one of the pickup days for recyclables.

It should also be done by one company per area or ZIP code. We sometimes have three different companies collecting trash on the same street twice a week, then they each add another trip every other week for recyclables. Plus figure in the extra trip for those with Dumpsters. That's a lot of wasted fuel and wear and tear on our roads. Surely we can be greener than this.

Robert Tarbox, New Port Richey

Children's hearing loss

Protect young ones' ears

This week, my wife and I were at a local raceway enjoying the competition of late-model stock cars. I noticed many babies and young children there did not have any form of hearing protection. Their parents must not be aware that noise-induced hearing loss from loud noise is cumulative and irreversible.

It is important to practice prevention from an early age. My wife and I were both safety officers on a local shooting range for 15 years. We witnessed many young children at the range without hearing protection. When their parents were advised that hearing protection was mandatory on the range, many replied: No worry, my kid will be just watching me shoot.

We live on a noisy planet with loud music, video games, fireworks, industrial noise, sports events, etc. Noise-induced hearing loss should be minimized with the use of hearing protection starting at an early age.

Bob Scher, Wimauma