Pipeline pathways provide opportunity for cycle trails

The Interstate Natural Gas Association of America writes that the United States needs more pipeline capacity to deliver natural gas from producers to consumers (“Weather exposes need for more gas pipeline capacity,” The Hill letters to the editor, March 6). Those pipelines will pass through numerous communities. Is there a way to provide some benefit to those communities to at least partially mitigate the negative local impacts of the pipelines?

Utility corridors, whether for pipelines or power lines, are often ideal for walking and bicycling paths. There are dozens of such paths currently in use across the country. Close to Washington, D.C., are the Washington & Old Dominion Trail in Virginia and the Washington, Baltimore and Annapolis Trail in Maryland, which run under high-tension lines. Neighborhoods in Olney, Md., are connected by a trail along the right of way for the Transcontinental Gas Pipeline Corporation.

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The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission should make it clear that society benefits when compatible public uses are included in transmission corridors acquired with a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity, and encourage the inclusion of compatible public uses when constructing pipelines and power lines. Trails are an obvious compatible public use.

Tea Party darlings not ready to run the show

From Barbara Bieber

For what it is worth, I totally agree with Sen. Lindsey Graham’s (R-S.C.) opinion regarding taking military sexual assault cases outside of the chain of command (“Graham blasts Cruz, Paul presidential credentials”).

“Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) on Thursday questioned the presidential credentials of Sens. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Ted Cruz (R-Texas) for supporting legislation to take military sexual assault cases outside the chain of command,” says the March 6 article. “Graham took aim at the potential Republican 2016 candidates after the Senate defeated a bill that would have taken the decision to prosecute major criminal cases away from military commanders.”

I doubt that either Paul or Cruz have the experience or foresight to make such decisions. We have seen the foolishness of both of these “hopefuls” in the past months. When they act seriously about becoming knowledgeable about our country’s origins and have some experience with the entire mismanagement by the present administration, then they can weigh in with serious comments. However, they have not reached that point yet. They are both only trying to gain publicity for their own personal gains, filling up a war chest to run for president. Neither one has the qualifications to run for that office. 

I think Paul is simply a mouthpiece for his father and Cruz is simply trying to make a name for himself. The entire Tea Party is absolutely ruining the Republican Party.

Appleton, Wis.


Comcast is keeping its public-interest promises

From Jason A. Llorenz, senior fellow 

at the Rutgers University School of Communication and Information

The Hill’s March 3 edition of Overnight Tech (“NBC, Comcast claim success in merger”) examining the extent to which Comcast fulfilled the public interest commitments it made during the acquisition of NBC Universal actually makes a strong case in favor of its current transaction with Time Warner Cable.

The criticism of Comcast’s record on the NBC Universal deal seem facile. Comcast never committed not to use tiered pricing and then-chairman of the Federal Communications Commission Julius Genachowski has defended the practice as pro-consumer. 

Comcast has provided low-cost broadband to more than 1 million Americans through a program known as Internet Essentials, which offers Internet at $9.99 a month, and has been widely recognized as evenhanded in licensing its content to competing online video distributors.

Comcast publicly supported the FCC’s 2010 net neutrality rules, committing to follow them even if later invalidated by the courts (which has now occurred). This is a centerpiece policy goal of broadband industry critics, and Comcast as a company has remained committed to it. The company has also stated support for the FCC’s process to renew the rules in the wake of the court decision.

We should all be in favor of a rigorous review of any significant merger, but mischaracterizing a largely positive track record of compliance with promised public-interest commitments doesn’t help inform the debate. 

Washington, D.C.


Robert Strauss, proud Texan and political pro

From Denny Freidenrich

Robert Strauss, 95, former chairman of the Democratic National Committee and ambassador to Russia, is gone but not forgotten. I worked for him at the DNC in 1974. Those were the days when a young Hamilton Jordan used to drop by the office every so often. Two years later, his boss, Jimmy Carter, was elected president.

A proud Texan, Bob Strauss was the quintessential Washington insider. I still can hear him telling people, in that distinctly Southern drawl of his, “I’m one rich SOB.” Yes, he was a colorful guy. He also was a political pro. Too bad there aren’t more like him these days.

Laguna Beach, Calif.