- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 11, 2001

Environmental self-monitoring and EPA

Kenneth Smith takes the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to task for fining industrial sources that uncover and report their own environmental violations, favoring instead the Colorado example of granting amnesty for those that voluntarily engage in self-auditing and self-confession ("Only EPA knows," Op-Ed, Jan. 4). However, the EPA's program is a lot closer to Colorado's program than Mr. Smith lets on.
Several years ago, the EPA announced a policy that encourages sources to conduct such voluntary audits. It gives sources a break on the otherwise applicable penalty, reducing the fine to zero in most cases. The EPA policy does not, however, allow the waiving of penalties when violators have been enriched unjustly by the violation. The EPA believes sources should not profit by breaking the law. This is fair to other competitors in the same industry that voluntarily spent the money to comply, rather than overlook, their obligations to clean up. Nor does the EPA waive the fine when there has been criminal conduct.
This policy has been enormously popular with the regulated industry; hundreds of companies have responded by conducting thorough audits and reporting them to EPA. Letters of praise pour in. For example, the president of Midwestern Machinery Co. has written, "This [policy] encourages proactive environmentally responsible behavior by companies trying to do the right thing in terms of complying with our nation's environmental laws."
Colorado, and the next secretary of the interior, would be well-advised to follow the EPA example.
Silver Spring

Don't be ridiculous. Penalty-free self-auditing lets environmental violators turn themselves in when they know they are going to be caught anyhow. Violators shouldn't expect to make tons of money ignoring environmental laws and then ask to get off scot-free, with the money in their pockets, because they admit what they did.
Blue Springs, Mo.

As a manager of a Texas chemical plant, I was pleased to read Kenneth Smith's Op-Ed column "Only EPA knows." I just came from a meeting with a group of employee volunteers who are organizing our effort to be recertified as a Star facility in OSHA's Voluntary Protection Program. VPP is a model of how government and industry are working together to improve safety in the workplace. I am committed, and I believe my peers in other plants are committed, to complying with environmental regulations. An EPA program like VPP might encourage industry to go beyond compliance to compete for recognition as leaders in emission reductions. Our country's economy is dependent on its manufacturing base, and I believe EPA can help preserve that base and preserve our environment at the same time. Thanks again for your comments.
Corpus Christi, Texas

Your Jan. 4 Op-Ed column "Only EPA knows" is correct in several aspects. I admire especially the description of the faulty evaluation of environmental policies that is rampant among so-called analysts, whether in academia or the media, as well as the imbedded subjective analysis of ideology and partisanship that is so easily used among media reporters.
As a political scientist who has taught environmental politics since 1983 and who has a strong interest in American institutions, I find this sort of misreporting rampant among the most prestigious news organizations. Thanks for providing an analysis that instructs rather than preaches.
Program director, master of arts in liberal studies
Associate professor, political science
University of Central Florida

Israelis protesting Clinton proposal exceed estimate

Your Jan. 9 article "Marchers trample Clinton peace bid" stresses the fact that the person who most desires an agreement in the Middle East is the outgoing president of the United States, who would be happy to go in a blaze of glory. The fact that people living in the Middle East are not willing to pay any price for his agreement appears not to have occurred to him.
On the night of Jan. 8, there were between 300,000 and 400,000 people in Jerusalem (far more than your article estimates) for a non-partisan gathering to show that we are not willing to pay any price.
Your article quotes Ehud Olmert, Jerusalem's mayor, and then depicts the Palestinians as "huddled in small groups in corners" with a certain Mohammed Riad commenting that "'They'll go home in a few hours, but the mess they made will remain.'" This comparison is of course nonsense, and I can assure you that the leaflets and posters were cleaned up by morning.
The fact that Arabs are seen in the area proves that when Jews control the city, there is freedom of movement and expression. When Israel was not in control of Jerusalem, access to Jewish holy places was impossible. While Israelis are in favor of live and let live, the Arab leaders don't call the Temple Mount by its real name; they are trying to deny that Jews ever had a temple there. They deny our history and our right to be where our hearts have always been.
It is this extraordinary stance that will have to change before progress is made in the Middle East not the retirement of a president willing to cede parts of another sovereign country.

While your paper estimates attendance at Monday night's pro-Jerusalem rally at "over 100,000," all official and non-official Israeli estimates placed attendance at triple that number. The Israel police placed attendance at 300,000 (a figure echoed by the Jerusalem Post). The rally's organizers estimated approximately 400,000 people in attendance. The lowest attendance estimate was printed by the left-wing daily Ha'aretz newspaper, which published an attendance figure of 250,000.
In other words, all those with access to first-hand information contradict the report in The Washington Times. It is quite unseemly for your paper to print a figure which is so obviously inaccurate. This mistake has definite political implications. The real attendance figures only serve to underscore further the degree of popular Israeli opposition to President Clinton's latest proposal. It is important for your readership to understand the degree to which regular Israeli citizens believe that the plan will pave a road to war and trample Jewish heritage.
N. Potomac, Md.

High-tech compliment

Thank you for your excellent article "Best of 2000: Microsoft, MP3 and a mini PC" (Business Times, Jan. 1). I have always found The Washington Times to be informative and timely.
Just as important, your paper examines the process of innovation itself. This quality is especially pertinent, considering such industry giants as IBM, Xerox, Microsoft and Lucent are reinventing their internal bureaucracies by integrating their research and business functions.
Thank you for not only keeping up-to-date on the latest advances in technology, but also revealing how they translate into opportunities in the marketplace.
Austin, Texas

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