Letters to the Editor

Posted: January 29, 2013

Delivering on climate pledge

President Obama's inaugural address pledge to "respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations" ("Environmentalists hail Obama climate change focus," Jan. 22), was a clear sign that he understands the urgency of addressing this problem. Now we're counting on him to follow up those words with action.

We know what we need to do in Pennsylvania and nationwide to tackle global warming: clean up the largest sources of the carbon pollution fueling the problem. And with the president's leadership, we can make that happen. Right now, Obama and the Environmental Protection Agency are developing the first-ever carbon pollution limits for new power plants - a truly historic step toward cleaning up the single biggest source of carbon pollution.

A record number of Americans have already spoken out in support of the proposed standards, and more and more opinion leaders are echoing the need for action. I urge the EPA to finish the job on these standards and also develop standards for existing power plants. Our health and our environment are depending on it.

C.J. Cobb, sustainability intern, PennEnvironment, Philadelphia

Solar math not a bright spot

So, the Solar 4 All program paid $515 million to produce 80 megawatts of solar power. Is that a good deal or not? A little arithmetic can answer that question:

The Philadelphia area gets on average three hours per day of "direct" sun over the year. So 80 megawatts for three hours per day for 30 days per month gives 7.2 million kilowatt-hours per month.

To finance the solar panels we must borrow $515 million for 20 years (solar panels last 20 years) at 3.5 percent interest. The monthly payments would be $3 million per month. Therefore, $3 million / 7.2 million gives 42 cents/kilowatt-hour. This is more than three times what I pay for power from PSE&G - so I say, not a good deal.

Stephen B. Jaffe, Moorestown

Finding new life in the science

I am weary of hearing of the concept of the "right of control over a woman's body" illogically applied to the right of abortion on demand. The pertinent science is settled, one need only consult a human embryology textbook. Once fertilization occurs, there is a new human being formed, with new DNA. Any action upon this new human is action upon someone else's body. Abortion kills someone else with different DNA. You may still cling to this "right," but you must call it what it is. I am curious as to why those people who promote abortion are never designated as "antiscience," while those questioning something much more difficult to prove, like climate change, are regularly regarded as such. Roe v. Wade settled law? For now. Settled science? Forever.

Dr. Elisa Winterstein, Feasterville, roffdale@gmail.com

Theater company seeks a deal

In its walkout against the Philadelphia Theatre Company, the stagehands' union is attempting to get the theater to agree to a standard union contract comparable to those of organizations that have more than seven times our seating capacity, which is like fitting a square peg into a round hole, and is both irresponsible and inappropriate. ("Theater workers' strike in its 2d act," Jan. 24).

We are not the Academy of Music, the Kimmel Center, or the Convention Center. Our theater is a relatively small, 370-seat, regional company, which is working to meet the financial challenges it faces in a tough economy, like every other nonprofit institution. Prior to the union negotiations, we had already structured a work environment for our stagehands that provided the safest, most comfortable conditions possible. Our proposal to the union, in fact, is a jump forward from conditions that were already comparable to union standards and is hardly "punitive."

The union refers to our desire to hire "nonunion workers." In reality, we are talking about our internship program for young professionals, an essential part of our theater's mission and major focus of our education program since our founding. In fact, three of the stagehands now on strike got their professional start as Theatre Company interns and apprentices. It is ironic that these same people are part of a movement trying to pull up the ladder, now that they are in the boat. The notion that we are trying to "replace" professional stagehands with interns is simply preposterous.

We are eager to come to a quick resolution. In the meantime, we continue to perform The Mountaintop by Katori Hall, a powerful play honoring the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., to standing ovations from enthusiastic audiences.

Sara Garonzik, producing artistic director, Philadelphia Theatre Company

Priscilla Luce, president, board of directors, Philadelphia Theatre Company

Just the facts on Paterno vigil

As a proud Penn State alumna, I want to thank you for your coverage of the candlelight vigil held on Tuesday night in State College to honor Joe Paterno on the anniversary of his death. I appreciate the fair, unbiased reporting that simply let others know what was happening, with no tie-in to Jerry Sandusky or any other sensationalism.

Marianne Williams, Schwenksville

Beach badge for a bailout?

New Jersey municipalities want millions of dollars of public money to replenish their beaches, and then want the public that paid for them to pay to go on them. Maybe Congress needs to pass a law that says that if you use public funds to preserve the beach, then you can't charge the public to use them.

David Kirsh, Rydal

Pick for national songbird

Our country has not yet defined Beyoncé, even though from her singing engagements and performances she keeps a full national schedule. Last week she sang "The National Anthem" at the conclusion of the second inauguration of our 44th president of the United States. Now, we await her halftime performance at Super Bowl XLVII in New Orleans. She is constantly in demand. Let's face it, whether she lip-synchs or not, Beyoncé continues to be and always will be "Our National American Songbird."

Wayne E. Williams, Camden

End-run around democratic rule

John Samples' commentary ("Long live the filibuster," Jan. 24) seems like nothing more than a series of rationalizations to support a practice that has no rational basis. The majority is there for the same reason that the minority is there - it is the will of the people as expressed by the electoral process. We live in a democracy. That means that, like it or not, the majority rules. In effect, filibustering gives the minority (especially as used by Republicans the last few years) veto power and subverts democracy.

Ron Spiegel, Huntingdon Valley

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