In face of threats, funding cuts to bio-research agency unwise

(Regarding op-ed “Preparing for pandemics, natural and manmade,” June 12.) With respect to the assertion of former Sens. Bob Graham (D-Fla.) and Jim Talent (R-Mo.) that we must prepare for bioterrorism: If anything, these distinguished experts understated the urgency of taking action.

Bioterrorism is the easy way for our enemies to create mass catastrophe and panic. They could target America directly, our allies, or our vital interests with anthrax or other disease, inflicting consequences that would dwarf 9/11.

While the United States has taken progressive strides in developing and stockpiling bioterror medical countermeasures, domestic and global preparedness still leaves too many openings for a terrorist to penetrate. To cut funding for the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority now would expand our vulnerabilities precisely when worldwide instability demands stronger security protection.

We need to promote medical countermeasures before a terror-health crisis proves the folly of inadequate preparation. Of course, funding for avian flu is also a priority, but if cuts must be made to meet this need, there are far more highly funded defense initiatives of far lower urgency than bioterror preparedness.


Electric co-op group’s position on ACES Act

From Glenn English, CEO, National Rural Electric Cooperative Association

Contrary to the lead paragraph of your story “Rural co-ops target climate bill” (June 11), and putting aside for the moment your characterization of electric cooperatives as a “vestige” of the past, the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) is not lobbying against H.R. 2454, the American Clean Energy and Security Act (ACES) of 2009. In fact, electric cooperatives from across the country are lobbying to create a climate change bill that a wide cross-section of America can support.

As I stated in the testimony upon which the story was based: “Properly structuring a climate policy can achieve the necessary emissions reductions, and should do so using least-cost alternatives to keep costs affordable for consumers. The legislation reported by the Energy and Commerce Committee has moved in that direction. However, there are still provisions in the legislation that will increase costs on consumers more than is necessary to achieve the emissions reductions required by the bill.”

The provisions of the bill, as introduced and publicly debated, certainly included provisions that NRECA felt were inadequate or unachievable — too little consumer protection and too ambitious a timeline — though none that would have forced electric co-ops to lobby against the bill. But the committee adopted a provision that gerrymanders the CO2 allowance formula, creating CO2 winners and losers. As the article points out, the scheme does not break along party lines or by utility faction; instead it pits regions of the country against each other.

 At this time, NRECA is not able to support the bill. We are urging members of the House to review the allocation formula and correct the regional disparity before even considering final passage of the bill. We look forward to working with any and all interested members to improve the legislation so that it provides a national policy that reduces greenhouse gas emissions in a simple, affordable and flexible manner.

Arlington, Va.

Days of analog TV were better than this

From Wes Pedersen

The digital TV revolution is flat. Big Brother has conned me into buying a new set that I did not need since my reception was perfect. Two other worthy-of-Eden sets sit silent while I wait for converter boxes to transform them into fields of snow and dead air.

Does anyone have the address of a federal office in Washington to which I can send what apparently will be my doomed sets and thereby announce my displeasure to the guilty feds? Better still, is there an aid office that will accept my apparent goners and send them to a third-world country that could benefit richly from what my government insists is not good enough for me?

Chevy Chase, Md.