Letters to the Editor

Letters to the Editor 3/29

Rare earth damage

A recent Tribune editorial (March 16) called for a stop to the debate about the environmental impacts of solar panels and a renewed commitment to developing alternative energy sources that do not carry the risk, or waste, of fossil-fueled energy plants.

Concern about radioactive waste has justifiably increased because of the nuclear crisis in Japan.

A series of articles about rare earths was published recently in The New York Times.

According to the articles, rare earths are crucial to production of clean-energy technologies as well as hybrid cars and smartphones. The articles point out that China has a virtual monopoly on processing rare earths and that refining rare earth ore leaves thousands of tons of low-level radioactive waste behind.

Ironically, concern over radiation was a reason all rare earth refineries in Japan were closed. A new rare earth refinery is being built in Malaysia, even though the last such refinery in Malaysia is now one of Asia’s largest radioactive waste cleanup sites. The question of how to dispose of the radioactive byproducts is still unanswered.

I am not aware that the environmental damage associated with rare earths has been discussed in connection with the local development of alternative energies.

Maybe The New York Times is wrong, but if not, the local citizenry deserves to be informed of this issue.

Alden Shiers


Stop spending

Leave it to Jerry Brown and the others: They will take any money anyone tries to save. Our California Public Employees’

Retirement System has been invested, and we watch it grow. Most of us are in harm’s way.

So along comes the government to take it away. Just like all the other money that the cities and counties try to save. The state spends and spends and it runs out and takes from the ones who try to save.

That goes along with the gas tax, which is supposed to be in a protected area for only one use — hahahah.

Stop spending money we don’t have on useless projects.

Mary E. Chambers

Paso Robles

A ludicrous claim

If I had a million dollars and I invested it in United States Treasury bonds, would you think I was broke? Evidently, Shirley Rutland (“Debt Contribution,” March 14) would!

Social Security has always (until last year) taken in more money than it pays out, which has resulted in a 2.5 trillion dollar surplus. By law, this surplus is invested in treasury securities that Ms. Rutland calls “just a stack of IOUs from the federal government.”

So, to say that “the trust fund, of course, has no money in it” is ludicrous unless one expects the federal government to default on its entire debt.

Social Security was designed to stand on its own taking in sufficient money from FICA to pay benefits and generate a surplus. Since it is forecasted to stop doing this in about 30 years, that structure needs to be modified (as it was in 1983) by raising the tax, reducing the benefits or some combination of the two.

Jerry Praver


Thinking it through

Let’s think this whole plug-in electric car idea through. If you are willing to put up with all of the shortcomings of a plug-in vehicle, like the Volt’s ridiculously high price, short electric range and slow recharge time, why exactly are you buying it?

There’s never been a worse thing for the environment than consumerism, especially on the level of the automobile and the many horrible polluting processes and transportation of materials it takes to make them. The reality of this conspicuous consumption is more like the worst environmental move ever.

The lack of visible tailpipe emission is a dream come true, except for the fact that electricity is produced by burning oil or coal or — worse yet, nuclear fission on a fault line around here. Do you like the look of the three “tailpipes” in Morro Bay? How about we just drive less and repair the older vehicles we already polluted the earth by building?

We already have “brownouts” every year when the air conditioning goes on in the summer. Let’s see how that works out when a few million Californians plug in their cars every day, too.

Jeff Horton

Arroyo Grande