When I was a little younger, I looked to SHORTS ILLUSTRATED for its glossy photographs of my athletic idols. Today I'm glad you concentrate on more than games. Robert H. Boyle's article (An American Tragedy, Sept. 21) is another in a long line of cogent SI reports concerning environmental issues that affect us all—athletes, laborers, artists and, though they may not realize it, businessmen and politicians. Boyle's essay, though environmentally biased, is thorough and fair in stressing the serious problems associated with acid precipitation. Thank you for having more substance than mere sports statistics.
MARK C. AUSTIN
Robert H. Boyle's article was a masterpiece. It's a shame the large utilities and manufacturers don't take the money they spend on propaganda arguing that acid precipitation is little or no problem and use it instead to devise ways to reduce the amount of sulfur dioxide they're spewing into our environment.
The present Administration seems downright indifferent to the acid-rain calamity. With James F. McAvoy nominated to the Council on Environmental Quality (SCORECARD, Aug. 10) and with Budget Director David A. Stockman's apparent lack of concern for the problem, the Federal Government will be contributing nothing to solving it. I hope this article stirs people into action and prevents this worldwide problem from being put on the back burner. Keep these informative, hard-hitting articles coming.
As one who teaches economics, I was especially interested in David Stockman's use of marginal analysis to justify a policy that would continue to allow firms to pump pollutants into the atmosphere. Such an approach implies that all the social costs associated with acid precipitation are known and measurable, which they are not. His analysis also ignores a more fundamental economic principle: Users of resources, such as industrial firms, should pay all costs associated with their actions, including non-market social costs. The use of selected economic principles to justify the status quo is indeed sloppy economics. I give Stockman a D.
DAVID S. MOEWES
Assistant Professor of Economics
I'd like to compliment SPORTS ILLUSTRATED and Robert H. Boyle for the fine article on acid precipitation, or acid rain, as it's more popularly known. At a time when Congress faces a protracted battle over the reauthorization of the Clean Air Act, a well-reasoned study such as Boyle's is a welcome addition to the public dialogue.
An enormous gap exists between the rhetoric and the reality of the Administration's environmental policies, particularly regarding the acid-rain issue. In August, the Environmental Protection Agency released a broad set of "principles" on the Act, purporting to be a continuation of the progression toward cleaner air. However, the latest indications are that the Administration is intent on providing no resolution to the acid-rain problem. The Administration's most recent draft proposal, in fact, actually calls for easing the emission standards on new coal-fired power plants. This would further exacerbate the acid-rain dilemma.
Hearings arc scheduled in Congress on the acid-rain issue in early October. Public opinion polls continue to show overwhelming support for the government's role as protector of the environment. Clearly, Congress' role is to keep this issue in the public eye and ensure that acid rain is not ignored in the coming Clean Air Act debate. There is no mandate for the Adminstration's retreat from safeguarding air quality.
EDWARD J. MARKEY [D-Mass.]
Member of Congress
While your effort to keep the public informed about acid rain is commendable, your call to strengthen the Clean Air Act is likely to fall on deaf ears in the Reagan Administration. As an attorney at EPA, I have found that the agency's new leadership isn't even interested in the recommendations of its own staff regarding legislation to amend the act. That should tell you how much they will heed the editorial position of a sports magazine, no matter how influential it may be. One can only hope that certain key members of Congress, such as Senator Robert T. Stafford (R-Vt., Chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee) and Representative Henry A. Waxman (D-Calif., Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health and Environment), will have sufficient backbone and wherewithal to improve the Clean Air Act, rather than relax it.
ELLIOTT J. GILBERG
Robert H. Boyle makes a rather compelling argument for action to curtail acid precipitation. However, it seems to me that environmentalists have hurt themselves in two respects. First, by demanding too much too quick. They have documented adverse trends that have taken years to build, but instead of recommending long-range programs to reverse those trends, they agitate to have everything corrected—in fact, overcorrected—immediately, regardless of the cost to the already overburdened public or of the loss of production or jobs.
Second, there are too many groups, each of which is dedicated to a particular portion of the environment, that present the situation in their area of interest as a "life or death" emergency. They have cried "Wolf! Wolf!" so many times with minimum cause that when Boyle really sees the wolf, many people do not pay attention.