Regarding "Environment tussles return after national pall" (Jan. 10): Whether or not the Bush administration's relationship with Enron turns out to be a legal quagmire for the White House remains to be seen. At this point there is no credible evidence to suggest that the Bush administration acted illegally in its dealings with Enron.
What is clear is that the Bush administration has marched right up to - and, in some instances, crossed over - an ethical boundary that calls into question the administration's integrity. Who wouldn't suspect something is amiss, given the fact that Enron, which contributed $623,000 to the Bush campaign, was allowed virtually unfettered access to Vice President Cheney while the Bush administration developed its energy policy. Situations like this invariably lead back to discussions regarding campaign-finance reform. It's absolutely necessary to limit certain forms of campaign contributions. America is sold every four years, and we should be ashamed for turning a blind eye to it.
Patrick A. Downes
Thank you for "Enron's reach in Congress" (Jan. 15). This scandal highlights the need for real campaign reform. Candidates for president, Senate, and House should receive free television and radio time and a certain amount of free mailing privileges and newspaper ads. If this were the case, candidates would not have to reach out to companies like Enron to fund campaigns. If candidates were able to focus their attention on the issues rather than fundraising, there would be more competitive elections and less perceived corruption in government.
Regarding "Nuclear NIMBY" (Jan. 14, Editorial): Choosing Yucca Mountain for a final resting place for nuclear fuel was a good decision. If you cut through all the political posturing, it's easy to see that the plan for developing Yucca Mountain has proceeded conservatively and carefully. It will actually be possible to remove the material for at least 50 years after we start using the repository, should there develop a better idea of how to dispose of the waste. And, should we decide to reprocess the spent fuel, we will be able to recover at least 60 percent of the energy remaining in the fuel.
What's irresponsible is waiting to deal with the problem. The early pioneers in nuclear power asked to be allowed to develop the technology to dispose of the waste while they learned to build the power plants. But the US government has consistently delayed and procrastinated on the expenditures of utility ratepayer funds accumulated to deal with waste disposal.
Robert L. Long
I disagree with "Cost of a clean Lake Tahoe" (Jan. 9, Editorial). You argue that "the court shouldn't force government to pay what it can't afford." However, the total cost of the development moratorium is the same, whether the government compensates the property owners or not. If there is no compensation, the cost is paid by a few hundred landowners. If there is compensation, it is paid by millions of taxpayers. In short, you are arguing that Tahoe landowners unfortunate enough not to have built before the moratorium should have to lose hundreds of thousands of dollars to make the lake a nicer place for their neighbors who had already built their cabins.
Clearly, this position is unfair. If something really is in the public interest, the public should be willing to pay for it.
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