Finding Snags in the Nuclear-Waste Debate

As a faithful reader I long have admired the Monitor's fairness in publishing conflicting views on controversial issues. It is, however, an admiration severely tried by the opinion piece, "Nuclear Waste Roadshow May Yet Come to Town" (June 5).

First, consider author Karen Charman's reference to Mary Olson of the Nuclear Information and Resource Service. While I am unfamiliar with Ms. Olson's scientific credentials, the service is known as a viciously antinuclear-energy group with a well-deserved reputation for disseminating what is termed in some circles "disinformation."

And then there is the perhaps unimportant matter of the author's accuracy. "Nuclear power provides about 11 percent of the electricity generated in this country...." This is an error of close to 50 percent. Nuclear energy generates about 20 percent of the nation's electricity in more than 100 plants with a total capacity of about 100,000 megawatts.

"The obvious first step is to shut down all nuclear plants now," she wrote. Just what resource does Ms. Charman recommend for replacement of those 100,000 megawatts? Inevitably it would be coal, which produces those dread greenhouse gases over which environmentalists weep copious tears. And please don't prattle about wind and solar power, which together generate less than 1 percent of electricity in the entire world.

True, this piece appeared under the heading "Opinion," but should not expressions of opinion be supported by credible references?

Earl E. Eigabroadt

Port Orchard, Wash.

Editor's Note: After further checking with the author and the Department of Energy, we find that the correct figure for electricity produced by nuclear power in the United States is 21 percent. Nuclear power, however, accounts for just 7.19 percent of all energy consumed in the US.

The flag amendment

I was surprised to read Keith Kreul's opinion piece, "The Pseudo Patriotism of the Flag Amendment" (June 11). American Legion delegates debated this issue at every national convention since 1989, and at every meeting of its board of directors. Every resolution on flag protection passed unanimously. Mr. Kreul, who has a voice in making Legion policy, never uttered a word in opposition.

There is not "obvious conflict with the First Amendment," as Kreul wrote. In fact, for more than 200 years the courts have held that the right of states to protect our flag and the people's freedom of speech is not in conflict.

"It passes my belief that anything in the federal Constitution bars a state from making a deliberate burning of the American flag an offense," wrote Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black, a great champion of freedom of speech. Others have agreed with Black, and 49 state legislatures have petitioned Congress to pass the flag-protection amendment.

It's a shame Kreul doesn't trust the good judgement of the vast majority of the American people who truly understand the importance of preserving the dignity of our flag.

Anthony G. Jordan


National Commander, The American Legion

Summer grilling

The article "Charcoal or Gas: How the New Grills Match Up" (July 1), ended prematurely. Charcoal? Gas? How about electric? I have an electric grill for the patio and it's a dream. Perfect, even temperatures; little messy cleanup, no empty propane; no bulky charcoal bags, no ugly gases into the atmosphere; and a beautiful hamburger every time! The only problem is you can't use it when it's raining.

Chris Johnson

Via E-mail

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