The oil disaster is still not resolved. The oil is in danger of moving into the main current and doing even more damage than it already has done.

The disaster should be a wake-up call. If this sort of oil spill can happen in the Gulf Coast of the United States, it can happen anywhere that offshore drilling takes place.

We need to protect our communities, our coastal ecosystems, and our coastal economies. We need to switch to a clean energy future.

Minal Patel
Portland

BP’s Deepwater Horizon
well in the Gulf of Mexico exploded into flames more than a month ago. A river of oil is creating a huge slick in the Gulf.

If the millions of gallons of oil gushing from the well get into coastal waters and marshes, the oil will devastate birds, fish, crabs, shrimp and oysters.

In addition to the environmental disaster, this spill will also cause enormous economic damages. Commercial and recreational fishing in the Gulf is a $6.5 billion-per-year business.

We need to protect our coasts from such a catastrophe ever happening again. The president should permanently ban drilling in new areas and make sure to hold BP accountable. Sens. Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins need to move quickly to pass strong, comprehensive legislation to reduce our dependence on oil, move to clean energy and cut global warming pollution.

Hanna Birkhead
Environment Maine
Portland

As we watch the horrifying ongoing destruction caused by the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, we should be considering the serious effects it portends for our economy. In addition to impacting those in the industries on the Gulf (seafood, tourism, etc.), we should recognize that the loss of a major seafood source in our food supply is going to create problems.

Roger Doiron’s May 18 Maine Voices piece in this paper (“If Americans plant food gardens, it will benefit the planet and themselves”) encourages us to plant gardens to supplement the food we normally purchase. That is especially appropriate this year, since all food prices will probably rise, not just seafood.

The likely seafood shortfall in the next year or two offers an opportunity for Maine’s fishing industry. To the extent we can safely do this, we should be expanding both our wild seafood harvesting (for a year or so) and our near-shore cultured capabilities – mussels, salmon, oysters, etc.

While we might feel a sense of guilt at profiting from the losses of others, expanding Maine’s output will actually help keep global food prices down.

We can individually choose to donate part of our profits to charities that aid those on the Gulf who are impacted by the disaster.

Robert Wagner
Portland

The idea that broken pipes are still spewing oil and other pollutants in the Gulf of Mexico is absurd. What’s the problem? It is just a broken pipe.

Frigid temperatures, high pressures, a mile down. So what! It is just a broken pipe! The temperature is only 10 degrees colder than Casco Bay. Pressure is a non-issue, providing it is equal on both sides. Subsea robots already provide vision and the ability to perform mechanical functions.

It is no surprise BP can’t fix a small problem like a broken pipe. If you work for BP and your solution works, good; if not, you are probably out of a job. The real problem is BP is so sophisticated they can’t think in simple terms.

I suspect a group of maybe 20 nonaffiliated creative thinkers and problem solvers given the specific considerations and resources available could within a day or so come up with a logical, practical and effective solution to terminating the flow.

On Day Two, the solution “chalked” out on a shop floor, with experienced, skilled craftsmen commencing construction, probably would have what ever it is built before engineering drawings are even completed.

Designed, constructed and deployed within a week seems reasonable. Yankee ingenuity has solved tougher problems than this.

If as much effort is or was concentrated on “fixing” the leak as is expended on endless press releases and hearings, and burdening thousands of people to contain and clean up the mess, then maybe the continuing destruction of this precious life-giving resource could cease and the healing process commenced. And, don’t forget all of the affected lives.

Considering BP’s efforts have concentrated on recovering the oil rather than sealing the wellhead, does BP really want to seal it? Even a conservative estimate of the discharged oil’s value is millions of dollars per week.

James C. Monroe
Blue Water Dynamos
Gray

Patients need price datato make sound choices

Congratulations to your writer John Richardson for bringing the issue of health care pricing to the forefront (“You paid how much?” May 16). There will never be a health care marketplace until there is more price consciousness on the part of patients.

Currently, it’s like going to the Maine Mall blindfolded, relying on our providers, hospitals and insurance company to choose the size, color, style and price of our clothing. There is too much potential conflict of interest. If there is ever to be real health care reform, it will be driven by patients (customers) from the bottom up, not from the top down.

When facing a procedure or test, the second question every patient should ask is “How much does this cost?” The first question should be “Is this test really necessary?”

Larry Adrian, PA-C, MHP
Portland

Falmouth’s decisions good,don’t justify verbal attacks

I was pleased to read that the Falmouth Town Council passed a resolution barring name-calling, personal attacks and abusive language at meetings and in correspondence – but I was sorry such a move was necessary

Shouldn’t someone engaging in a vitriolic attack think about the example this sets for the students in our schools that he purports to care about?

As a parent, I watched our four children go through the Falmouth school system and graduate well-prepared for college and beyond.
As a longtime volunteer and substitute teacher in the Falmouth schools, I witnessed first-hand the hard work and dedication of our teachers. They earn every penny they make.

The Town Council and the School Board should be applauded, not pilloried, for making difficult decisions in these uncertain economic times and for crafting a budget with no tax increase.

I urge all Falmouth residents to vote June 8 to approve the school budget.

Barbara MacMahon
Falmouth