Land Plan Bears Hefty Price Tag

"Conservation Plan Promotes Give and Take" (May 20) gives a good overview of San Diego's Multiple Species Conservation Plan (MSCP) and its balancing act between environmental protection and the need to provide for continued development. Unfortunately, there was no mention of one key factor: cost.

Government agencies estimate the cost to local taxpayers for just half of the needed land acquisition and maintenance over 30 years to be $300 to $400 million. The federal and state governments are supposed to pick up the other half.

A study we commissioned estimates that the 30-year cost to local taxpayers for land acquisition, financing, management, and lost property tax revenues from converting land from private to public ownership could reach $1.5 billion. To date the City and County of San Diego have not yet identified concrete ways to pay for the plan. Nor have they addressed the economic impact of relocating an estimated 40,000 future housing units.

The success of these plans rests on the availability of funding (federal, state, and local) to ensure that property owners will be justly compensated for the loss of property, and that the long-term habitat management needs are met. Politicians and taxpayers must realize that federal mandates such as the Endangered Species Act come with a price.

Scott Barnett

San Diego

Executive Director

San Diego County Taxpayers Association

Facing emissions facts

In the opinon-page article "Even If Global Warming Is True, Clinton's Policy Is Wrong" (May 15) the author maintains that the climate change policies of the Clinton administration and of the United Nations will not reduce carbon dioxide emissions. He might well be right. At the same time he admits that Germany and the United Kingdom are likely to meet the goals.

He then claims that if the United States followed the guidelines, it could not compete. He does not admit that Germany a) has already reduced emissions far below quota, and b) seems to be competing very effectively, thank you. He then whines some more about government always picking on business, without ever suggesting what policy might indeed reduce emissions.

John A. Betterly

Troy, N.Y.

US and the 'hideous weapons' ban

I wish to raise two points regarding your article "US Wants a Tougher Biological Arms Ban" (May 21).

First, you describe GOP objections to the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) in the US Senate as "fierce." While true, it is important to point out that opposition to the treaty was orchestrated by a small, albeit powerful minority, correctly identified as "Republican hard-liners who put little faith in multilateral arms control."

One must keep in mind the broad bipartisan support for the CWC. It was negotiated during the Reagan administration, signed during the Bush administration, and had the backing of a number of influential GOP senators, Richard Lugar (R) of Indiana and John Warner (D) of Virginia, to name just two.

Second, you correctly assert the importance of gaining industry support for stronger restrictions on biological agents. This is not an insurmountable task. The Chemical Manufacturers Association (the largest trade organization of US chemical corporations) helped draft the enforcement provisions of the CWC and later endorsed its ratification. A similar effort involving the pharmaceutical industry is critical.

US military and political leaders are gradually waking up to the fact that the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction poses a greater threat to our national security than is merited by whatever dubious security assurances our own arsenals provide. The US must continue to be a leader in global efforts to eliminate these hideous weapons.

Christopher Hellman


Senior research analyst

Center for Defense Information

Letters should be mailed to One Norway St., Boston, MA 02115, faxed to 617-450-2317, or e-mailed (200 words maximum) to oped@csps.com

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