Many Ely residents oppose coal plants

To the editor:

The Review-Journal's Friday article, "Reid gets tougher on coal," was another breath of fresh air for Nevada residents. Go, Sen. Reid.

The article quoted White Pine County Commissioner RaLeene Makley as saying, "Most residents in the area support the project." I am an Ely resident and I am writing to assure your readers that Commissioner Makley certainly does not speak for the majority of White Pine County residents.

The proposal for building these coal plants is a daily, sometimes hourly, topic among Ely residents, and has been for over two years now, ever since LS Power announced its intentions of bringing coal to Ely. Most residents I talk to are just as upset and frustrated about the thought of coal coming to White Pine County as I am.

Sure, there are those in Ely in favor of the coal plants, but they'll admit outright all they care about is the economic stability of Ely. And when you ask them about the pollution that will accompany the plant, they'll look down at their feet and say, "Well, the power companies say it's clean coal."

Perhaps Commissioner Makley needs to try surrounding herself with locals who actually care about the long-term health of beautiful eastern Nevada.

Our Republican representatives in Nevada are doing everything they can to support these coal plants and stop Sen. Reid's efforts to halt them. The question is: Why? The real question is: What do they have to gain by supporting coal?

While I certainly don't see eye-to-eye with either party, it sure is nice to see that Sen. Reid is interested in preserving what is left of Nevada. Coal plants have been reported to be responsible for as much as 25 percent of the reason the Earth's surface is warming unnaturally.

Regardless of party affiliation, no longer can anyone honestly say they think global warming is not real. If they do say it is all a hoax, then I bet they were not looking you in the eye, either.

Jason Williams


Gun free

To the editor:

I want to praise the management of the shopping mall in Omaha, Neb., where last week eight innocent people were massacred by a lunatic with a rifle.

The operators established their mall as a "gun free zone" and prohibited anyone from carrying a gun into the mall, including those with permits for concealed weapons.

The mall's management's policy worked perfectly. When the lunatic started shooting, he was totally safe from return fire until the police showed up.



Selective interpretation

To the editor:

The Friday commentary " 'Silent Spring' mythology killing us softly" by Steven Brockerman illustrates a problem with peer-reviewed scientific papers. Namely, selective interpretation by different individuals can lead to wildly varied conclusions, supposedly based on the same paper. Mr. Brockerman makes the interesting claim:

"As almost any schoolchild today can parrot, [Rachel] Carson claimed DDT thinned the eggs of birds. Pointing to a 1956 study by Dr. James DeWitt published in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry, Carson wrote: 'Dr. DeWitt's now classic experiments [demonstrate] that exposure to DDT, even when doing no observable harm to the birds, may seriously affect reproduction.'

"DeWitt, however, concluded no such thing. Indeed, he discovered in his study that 50 percent more eggs hatched from DDT-fed quail than from those in the control group."

Actually, the truth is somewhere between Mr. Brockerman and Ms. Carson. Dr. DeWitt did reach conclusions similar to Ms. Carson's claims. In referring to quail that were fed a diet laced with DDT, Dr. DeWitt concludes: "Viability of chicks from these birds was markedly reduced in the DDT groups, where 87 percent of the chicks died within the first six weeks." Yes, there was a slight increase in the number of eggs produced per bird in the DDT group, but the chicks had a much higher death rate, so overall reproductive viability was lower.

For pheasants, "Egg production by birds fed 50 or 100 ppm of DDT was below that of the controls." A higher fraction of a pheasant-DDT group's eggs did hatch; but the DDT group also produced far fewer eggs per hen. So overall, the percent of surviving chicks was much lower in the DDT groups. Thus Mr. Brockerman's claims, while partly true, are misleading.

However, the amount of DDT fed the birds was quite high; Dr. DeWitt was trying to establish a dose/effect response, and wanted to do so in a limited time with limited funds. So naturally he upped the DDT concentration in the feed. Dr. DeWitt didn't mean to have someone read his paper and conclude that all birds, exposed to real-world levels of DDT, would see the same results. So Ms. Carson's claims, while true, are also misleading.

From Al Gore to William F. Buckley, well-meaning activists rarely read the original scientific papers. Instead, they read summaries which, they are assured, are trenchant and true to the spirit of the original papers. But the summaries are usually biased by selective reporting.

H.W. Stockman