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Opinion

To protect our privacy, make the FISA court act like a real court

The expiration of key surveillance authorities this spring will force Congress to grapple with the sprawling spying activities exposed by Edward Snowden. Defenders of the status quo sound a familiar refrain: The National Security Agency’s programs are lawful and already subject to robust oversight. After all, they have been blessed not just by Congress but by the judges of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, or FISA court.

Annie Cubberly — Money spent on kids now saves us a bundle later

The Grays Harbor Early Learning Coalition applauds the Washington State Legislature for its strong bipartisan effort to pass the Early Start Act. Now, as we launch into the state budget process, we encourage the Legislature to fully fund the bill and affirm our state’s commitment to high-quality early learning programs that create long-term, positive outcomes for our children.

Locals again being shut out of environmental plans

In a recent guest column, County Commissioner Frank Gordon was singing the praises of the Washington Coastal Restoration Initiative (WCRI). It was a “warm and fuzzy” letter about saving salmon and creating jobs here in Grays Harbor County. Please don’t get me wrong; I am all for saving and actually increasing the salmon and steelhead runs in Grays Harbor County. And jobs — of course Grays Harbor County needs jobs!

Usurious banks

The state now has a tax crisis because the state Supreme Court has ruled that the state must comply with the constitutional mandate to properly fund our schools. The Legislature is now considering raising the gas tax to meet this crisis. This would unfairly impact the middle class and the poor. It is time to make the wealthy pay their fair share of taxes, so we should reinstate the inheritance tax with proper exemptions. We need this money to properly educate our children and maintain a fairer tax burden.

Drivers don’t keep their distance

In reference to the March 3 Daily World story, ” Aberdeen police stop cars not yielding to pedestrians” — wonderful to see the police protecting the pedestrian. But there’s a problem. Many drivers fail to keep the three-second distance from the car in front.

No endeavor is without risk

Apparently I am in the minority of those whose letters you’ve printed about shipping oil through the port. The majority that I have read seem to have what I refer to as “Doomsday negativism.” They only seem to look at the worst possible outcome no matter how remote it may be. The oil train fires and explosions that have been abundantly referred to are few and far between and the conditions that caused them are not present on the Harbor. The major safety problem that I perceive is the rail and trains that are moving relatively slow. The railroad company has been upgrading its rail system recently and I don’t believe that the company wants to have accidents anymore than we do.

Anne Steckel — Without immediate renewable fuels standard, biodiesel industry faces uncertain future

The large-scale production of domestic biodiesel should be something President Barack Obama strongly supports, due to his commitment to slowing the pace of climate change and reducing our dependence on fossil fuels. After all, the Environmental Protection Agency has certified that biodiesel can cut greenhouse gas emissions by almost 90 percent when compared to diesel made from petroleum.

Let’s debate the Trans-Pacific Partnership before OKing it

This spring, President Barack Obama and Republican leaders in Congress want to use an outdated process used to pass the North American Free Trade Agreement more than 20 years ago — a rule called “fast track” — to force through trade deals without a real debate or any amendments. And fast track would be used to speed passage of the giant Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP, trade deal.

Oil — Make no mistake, it is about climate change

The state Department of Ecology has just released its study on rail safety. As expected, the risk associated with Climate Change is dismissed in a few words, on page 74: “The extent to which the burning of fossil fuels affects climate is well understood by Ecology. This issue is not within the scope of this study, which does not lessen the importance of the concerns.”