ISSUE | FRACKING
It would be easier for me to support state House Speaker Mike Turzai's position opposing the implementation of a severance tax on shale gas if he would answer two questions ("Progress slows in Pa. budget talk," July 28). First, how would the drilling companies actually move our natural-gas deposits to a more tax-friendly state? And where, exactly, is such a state?
Sure, I know the answers: The gas can't be moved, and there is no gas-producing state that does not have a severance tax.
|Ken Rosenberg, Rydal, email@example.com
Like much of the hype surrounding studies regarding hydraulic fracturing, recent reporting lacked proper consideration of the studies' weaknesses and shortcomings, many of which were acknowledged by researchers ("Studies link fracking, health woes," July 16).
While a University of Pittsburgh study was cited as suggesting fracking can be blamed for low birth weights, the researchers stated in a press release that the "study does not say that these pollutants caused the lower birth weights."
As for people living near gas wells having higher hospitalization rates, the researchers of that study admitted that despite their focus on areas of rapid shale development growth, hospitalization occurred at a largely unchanged frequency.
|Nicole Jacobs, Pennsylvania director, Energy In Depth, Hughesville, firstname.lastname@example.org
ISSUE | PAPAL PREPS
A novel security solution for the pope's visit could be a papal dome - a huge safety shield placed over the critical zone, à la The Simpsons Movie ("What's next, a shelter-in-place order?" July 30). If federal authorities can quarantine the fictional town of Springfield, surely the combined ingenuity of Homeland Security and the Secret Service can do the same for Philly.
With a dome, weather will be no problem, and a nifty monorail system can move people around.
|Kevin Downey, Downingtown, email@example.com
ISSUE | TRUMP APPEAL
Man of steel
The Trump phenomenon perhaps can be explained by the inability of temperate, compromising, thoughtful people - amid congressional polarization - to change the onslaught of overreaching policies from Washington. America cannot be rescued by a mild-mannered Clark Kent. Superman is needed.
|Henry Coxe, Ambler
ISSUE | HERITAGE
Civil War treasures nestled in Frankford
The Grand Army of the Republic Civil War Museum and Library (garmuslib.org) is alive and well, and has served the Philadelphia area at 4278 Griscom St., in Frankford, for more than 40 years ("Highlight Civil War legacy of region," July 28). It is a museum dedicated to the men who fought, and who founded the organization in 1866.
The museum contains artifacts that are important to the study of the war, including a piece of a pillow case bearing Abraham Lincoln's blood, the head of Gen. George G. Meade's famed horse, the medical kit of Mary Walker - the only woman awarded the Medal of Honor - handcuffs that belonged to John Wilkes Booth, and many more prized artifacts. The library of 4,000 volumes is a treasure for anyone studying the war.
A group of dedicated volunteers assures that the museum is a place for education and information, and offers free lectures on the first Sunday of each month.
|Hugh Boyle, president, Grand Army of the Republic Civil War Museum and Library, Bensalem, firstname.lastname@example.org
ISSUE | TOBACCO TAXES
Retail jobs could disappear as levies spiral up
After Gov. Wolf vetoed the legislature's budget plan, all taxes now seem to be on the table. But with tobacco taxes, enough is enough ("Smokers flee city tax," July 20). The $2-per-pack tax enacted last year nearly destroyed sales in Philadelphia. Neither retailers nor smokers can absorb another increase like the governor's proposed $1 per pack or the 40 percent tax on other tobacco products.
|Brian Grassi, manager, Lou's Wholesale, Philadelphia
ISSUE | MENTAL HEALTH
Broad-brush accusations add to hardship
If I hear one more politician blame the mentally ill for mass shootings, I am going to scream. Not all mentally ill people are violent. But if those politicians really think the mentally ill are such a problem, they should do something about it.
The lack of treatment for the mentally ill in this country is a national disgrace. If you have ever tried to get help for an ill relative, you know how extremely difficult and outrageously expensive it can be. Most families cannot do it on their own.
And when families ask the government for help, everyone screams entitlement. I know because my 58-year-old brother was 19 when he developed schizophrenia, and it's been hell all these years trying to get him the help he so needs and deserves.
|Claire Gawinowicz, Oreland
Coverage gaps run afoul of access pledge
In commentary on the anniversary of the Americans With Disabilities Act, there was nary a mention of mental disabilities, which are included in the act ("Quarter-century of gains, much work to do," July 26). Of course, this is an example of the second-class status given to the treatment of people with mental disabilities, along with the fact that insurance benefits for mental illnesses lag woefully behind coverage for physical illnesses or disabilities.