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Thursday, July 21, 2005 11:55 pm

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Send letters to: Letters, Illinois Times. P.O. Box 5256. Springfield, Illinois 62705. Fax: (217) 753-3958. E-mail: editor@illinoistimes.com

NUCLEAR: THE “RATIONAL” ALTERNATIVE

Rather than adopt the narrow view of our state and nation’s energy future espoused by Fletcher Farrar [“You can’t ‘nuke’ global warming,’ July 14], I would urge that your readers recognize the need for a forward-looking, balanced approach to meeting our growing electric power needs. We will need large amounts of new baseload electric generation in the years to come in order to continue to grow the economy and maintain lifestyles ever-more dependent on electricity. We will also need new baseload electric generation to replace older coal-fired power plants that will be retired. In an industry as capital-intensive as the electric power industry, investments leading to construction and operation of these new units must be made in a rational and reasonable economic and political environment.

We will need more wind and solar power in the years to come. However, neither wind nor solar generation will ever be viewed as baseload generation because it is not reliably dispatchable on to the electric grid. The volatility of natural gas prices will limit the amount of new baseload electricity generation from gas-fired power plants. While plentiful, coal can only be used to fuel electric generators in the future if it meets continually more stringent air quality standards. Whether the clean coal technology used is traditional scrubbers or the developing coal gasification methodology, using coal to produce electricity will be increasingly more expensive in the years to come.

That leaves us no reasonable and rational alternative but to consider building the next generation of nuclear power plants in this country. (I say “this country” because European nations have been building these next generation plants for many years.) If our nation’s public policymakers can find the resolve to follow through on plans for dealing with spent nuclear fuel, nuclear power will be a safe and cost-effective part of our energy portfolio mix far into the future.

I should also add for clarification that while Illinois coal-fired and nuclear power plants do “use” large amounts of water, they “consume” very small amounts. Water used in the power generation process is recycled back into our lakes and streams. The net effect of this recycling is very little of our water actually being removed from the environment.

Jim Monk
President, Illinois Energy Association
Springfield

DURBIN’S ONLY MISTAKE

In response to the letter to the editor from Clint W. Sabin [see the letter “Another apology in order,” July 7]: Mr. Sabin, I have to disagree with your opinions. None of the inmates at Guantánamo Bay has been accused of terrorism. In fact, they are held without being charged. Some of the detainees are American citizens. It has been three-and-a-half years for some of the detainees — and more than 100 detainees have died in Guantánamo Bay as part of the “roundups” since 9/11. The abuses at the hands of Americans must end. It is our responsibility to question those in authority. Americans are allowing their integrity to be compromised by the Patriot Act and those who would abuse their position of power under the auspices of said act.

And what about innocent people detained worldwide by the U.S. government? We indict others for having violated human rights, yet American soldiers are violating human rights every day in Guantánamo Bay. The actions of the U.S. military should never be allowed to violate the Geneva Conventions, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, or the U.S. Constitution. From all published accounts this is what is occurring at Guantánamo Bay and in Abu Ghraib.

The only thing Dick Durbin did wrong was expect the media to allow the truth to emerge.

Rajean Gallagher
Oak Lawn

HEY, GOVERNOR: READ THIS

I live in the small southern-Illinois community of Bluford. A few years ago, our small school built an addition. It, of course, needed the state-required sprinkler system installed. Our village did a study and found that it couldn’t handle the water capacity needed if the sprinklers would need to be used. Our system needed upgrading. At the time, the village was under an extreme financial burden for a sewer system, so it applied for a grant. We were awarded the grant, and construction began. About half of the money was paid to contractors; then the governor pulled the remainder of the grant.

The village of Bluford is hanging onto a thread to try to avoid being taken to court over this matter. They scrape anything they can to pay these contractors for the work that they have done. Our school’s sprinkler system is not in operating order. If a fire breaks out in the Bluford grade school, hundreds of children could die. The school is only able to keep operating by applying for waivers from the superintendent of schools.

All the while, we have to hear about the amazing amounts of money the governor is putting into things like trap shooting in Sparta and a Little League field in Marion. All these things are good, but priorities are very out of order. I’ve e-mailed the governor more than once about this matter and have not received any type of response whatsoever. If anyone has any ideas how I can get the governor’s attention about this matter, please let me know.

I’m afraid to send my children to school.

Jamie Myers
Bluford

WHY A MARRIAGE AMENDMENT

The 1996 Illinois Defense of Marriage Act defines marriage as between one man and one woman. That’s good, but is it good enough? Massachusetts had a DOMA, but three judges ruled it unconstitutional last year, forcing the people to accommodate same-sex “marriages.” To justify their action, these judges cited the Massachusetts public-accommodations law, similar to the one that Illinois state representatives passed this spring. The judges also cited the Massachusetts nondiscrimination civil-rights statute regarding employment, housing, credit, and services. Once again, similar to the one that the Illinois Legislature passed into law in January, the statute gives special rights to homosexuals, bisexuals, and the gender-confused. Are you seeing a pattern?

It is obvious that a DOMA isn’t strong enough to protect the original meaning of marriage in our great state. Amending the Illinois state Constitution with a marriage amendment will secure marriage for future generations.

Kathy Valente
Illinois State Director
Concerned Women for America
Lansing

THE RULES OF MEMBERSHIP

I have known Danny Faulkner since the mid-’60s [see the letter “Catholics: Shape up or ship out,” July 7]. I respect him as an honest, straightforward, standup individual. However, there are times when he exhibits an ostrich mentality; that is, his head [is] in the sand. I agree with Danny that if you belong to a club, then you are expected to abide by the rules. If you cannot, or will not, do this, then you need to get out of the club.

I will not attempt to teach Danny his religion; however, I am not sure if he is aware that Jesus was an observant Jew until the day he died and was subject to the rules of that organization.

Galyn L. Ruyle
Nilwood

TURNING SOCIAL SECURITY INTO WELFARE

Not content with destroying Social Security as we know it through “privatization,” President George W. Bush now has another idea: “progressive indexing,” which might better be called “regressive indexing.” Here’s how it works: Social Security benefit levels currently are tied to wages. Bush’s proposal would link them instead to prices, which rise more slowly than wages. This would apply only to those who make $20,000 or more a year. In other words, the very poor would not be affected. But these cuts would be devastating to those in the middle classes, many of whom depend on Social Security in their retirement years. And it would have very little effect on the rich.

There are other, better ways to reform Social Security. One is to raise the cap on taxable income from $90,000 to, say, $150,000. This would affect only about 6 percent of taxpayers. Another way, suggested by the AARP, is to keep some of the estate tax and earmark it for Social Security.

In effect, Bush is trying to turn Social Security into a welfare program instead of a retirement program, which it is now. If he succeeds in doing this, Americans will no longer support it. As with “privatization,” the more people learn about so-called progressive indexing, the less they will want it.

Beni Kitching
Springfield

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