Letters to the Editor (LTE) of your local paper are a simple way of getting your message out to the general public on an issue of concern. Many papers have word limitations but will generally try to print all letters received, particularly in smaller communities. Here are two sample LTE’s that highlight how to convey your message in a quick, concise manner.

May 2015

Voice of the Reader: EPA should honor wetlands, halt Mississippi boondoggle
(Published in The Southern Illinoisan)

To the Editor:

This May is the 25th anniversary of American Wetlands Month.

Many of us may not even know a wetland when we see one, yet their importance cannot be overstated. Wetlands quietly protect us by absorbing flood waters, filtering pollution, and providing habitat for many valuable birds, fish and wildlife species.

In the Missouri bootheel lies a large area of wetlands that is part of the New Madrid Floodway. These wetlands are one of the largest contiguous wetlands that can still be directly flooded by the Mississippi River. They provide a huge area where migratory birds seek rest and food, and where fish spawn and rear their young. The wetlands also protect Cairo and Olive Branch from destructive flooding by storing massive amounts of flood water. These wetlands get water from the Mississippi River through the last remaining gap in the complex of levees that separate the river from its floodplain.

The St. Johns/New Madrid project, proposed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, would eliminate this gap. Without the gap, the direct connection between the Mississippi River and these expansive backwater wetlands would be lost. We may also likely see floods in Cairo and Olive Branch like we did in 2011. The Army Corps of Engineers wants to close the gap with a $165 million boondoggle. EPA has the power to stop it. It should. Let’s honor America’s wetlands.

Kim Erndt­Pitcher


Sunrise not upfront on mining’s dangers
(Published in the News-Gazette)

February 2014

Roof collapse. Lacerations. Broken bones. Fires. Lung disease. These are just some of the injuries and dangerous conditions that coal miners face every day.

Of course, danger is present in many jobs, but coal mining in particular often operates under the radar in terms of the quantity and severity of accidents. One has to dig into the U.S. Department of Labor, Mine Safety and Health Administration website and key in the mine number to find the required accident reports.

The Carlisle Mine in Indiana operated by Sunrise Coal LLC, which is similar to the proposed Bulldog Mine in Vermilion County, had 180 violations in 2013, and they’re on track to repeat that this year. That’s an average of two per week for which they were fined over $50,000.

If you’re thinking that employment with this company is a good idea, consider that two Illinois miners died in separate accidents just last October. Every day you will put your health on the line with no union to back you up; every day you’ll breathe in coal dust for 8 hours, you’ll dodge chunks of falling rock and you’ll hope that the stream by your house is still running clear for your kids who like to play there.

This company and those like it claim they offer safe jobs, but the numbers don’t agree. They claim they protect the environment, but the evidence shows the opposite. If Sunrise were all it claimed to be, they would not have mounted their widespread public relations campaign to convince you otherwise.