The tragic oil disaster in the Gulf Coast is a wake-up call. Offshore drilling is risky and dangerous, and as we now know, major leaks are not easily contained.

And to think the oil companies still want to drill in the Arctic Ocean — a similarly fragile area and truly “unknown waters.” If an oil spill can’t be contained in the Gulf, how would anyone ever clean up a spill in the Arctic’s harsh, sea-ice environment? Now more than ever, it’s clear that President Obama must call for a timeout for all offshore drilling activities until scientists and other experts can help prevent a similar drilling disaster from happening in our oceans’ extremely sensitive ecosystem. What better time to switch to alternative energy sources than now?

Alissa Pashko

South Portland

 

 

More than a month after the catastrophic blowout that cost the lives of 11 workers, BP is still struggling to stop the gush of oil into the Gulf. It’s becoming clearer every day that the oil company recklessly cut costs and put profit before safety, environmental protection and the well-being of Gulf Coast communities.

Like germs under a microscope, the toxic oil glop coating the wildlife, destroying the wetlands and poisoning the ocean is a disease advancing on our planet — a disease caused by our addiction to fossil fuels.

As I see preschool kids playing on a too-warm May day, I am saddened by the global insecurity, debt, environmental devastation, climate change and lifeless acidic cesspools formerly known as oceans they face unless we stop it.

The American Power Act, sponsored by Sens. John Kerry, D-Mass., and Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., is a start. It provides incentives to phase in clean, sustainable energy and phase out dirty coal and oil. staying on the sidelines, Sens. Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins support oil and coal interests. We should all urge them to put our children before BP’s profits and support the American Power Act.

Marc Anderson

Portland

 

 

It is fair to point out that according to the Stafford Act, enacted in 1988, in natural disasters — such as Katrina in 2005 — onshore states are in charge. Forty-eight hours before the storm hit, President Bush called both the mayor of New Orleans and the governor of Louisiana, warning them of the power of the approaching storm, asking them to order immediate evacuation and offering federal help. They both refused him. They later changed their minds of course, and immediate federal help was forthcoming.

In off-shore disasters, such as the blowup of the Deepwater Horizon rig in the Gulf Coast on April 20, the responsibility falls to the federal government. As of this date, it is 49 days since it happened, so it is fair to ask the simple question — what has the federal government done to stem the leak, to solve the problem?

Terence McManus

New Sharon

 

 

BP estimates that as much as 19,000 barrels of oil are gushing into the ocean each day from a 24-inch hole one mile below the surface of the Gulf of Mexico.

That’s a lot of wasted oil! Why, that’s oil we could be using to fuel our cars and power our homes and manufacture cosmetics, hair dye, plastic bags, clothing and fabrics, plastic bottles, rubber tires, the soles of our shoes, and the ink used to print this newspaper. Consider these daily products made from the same toxic filth that now threatens the coast of Louisiana: Nail polish and lipstick are made of oil. So are nylon and polyester, and the plastics used in everything from Poland Spring bottles to TV sets and laptop computers. It’s all made from petroleum. Even condoms and personal lubricants are oil-based!

Now consider that the U.S. consumes 19,498,000 barrels of oil per day. That’s 1,000 Deep Horizon oil spills every single day. Most of it winds up in the atmosphere or shaped into household goods, which we conveniently toss into a landfill.

So the next time you see photos of that shiny slick that blankets the southern coast, just think of it as Earth’s way of poking us in the eye and saying, “What? I can’t waste a little too?”

Padric Gleason

Dresden

 

 

 

We are needlessly burying ourselves in ‘e-waste’

 

In Maine, the United States and frankly the world, there is a growing problem that a lot of people are not aware of: electronic waste. Maine standards, electronic waste, or e-waste, consists of basic consumer electronics such as computer monitors, computers, televisions, cell phones, video game consoles and DVD players. Over the course of recent years, the amount of discarded electronics has increased tremendously.

In our country, only about 20 percent of our total e-waste is recycled. Luckily for us, Maine was the first state to make a law about the disposal of e-waste. Now e-waste has to be recycled in our state.

Still, the problem is not completely fixed. Some of the e-waste recyclers that you may think are good really just ship off their waste to countries like India and China where workers use dangerous methods to extract precious metals from electronics. While exporting waste or trash from the U.S. is illegal, these companies get away with it by passing it off as “charitable donations,” despite most of it being completely beyond repair.

Fortunately, there is a solution. Lincoln Middle School has been working to alleviate this problem. Between two e-waste collections held on May 22 and 24, our eighth-grade class collected over 2,627 electronic items. However, that was not the only chance to dispose of your e-waste properly. In Portland, all property owners receive an e-card that allows them to take any of their e-waste to Riverside Recycling for free.

Another option is to just take your unused electronics to Goodwill and help out the less fortunate.

Jordan Roche

8th Grade, Lincoln Middle School

Portland

 

 

Speeding crackdown good idea until you get caught

 

Your editorial on May 25 showed full support of Westbrook’s traffic enforcement (“Westbrook police send speeders the right message”).

I’d be interested in the paper’s view after the writer of that piece got a ticket for going 1 mile per hour over the limit.

I agree wholeheartedly that speed limits need to be enforced — but with a little common sense.

David Roy

Westbrook