I was relieved to learn that the flow of oil that led to America’s worst environmental disaster has for the moment been stopped. In the wake of the spill, the nation’s eyes have turned from the Gulf to Washington, waiting for action. At least mine have.

The fight for energy reform is at our nation’s doorstep. In recent years, the threat of climate change has become a primary concern for many Americans, but these slow-killing greenhouse gases have yet to incite a groundswell of action.

This summer, it finally occurred to me that we are already facing the consequences of our shortcomings in environmental protection. For 88 days, crude oil gushed unchecked into the waters of the Gulf. Those 88 days made it clear that our dependence on oil threatens our communities, our way of life and our security no matter where the oil comes from.

BP’s disaster in the Gulf has destroyed the region. The BP disaster wasn’t our nation’s first environmental catastrophe, and it will certainly not be the last, unless we take action now to end our nation’s addiction to oil.

Energy independence is not a partisan issue. Since 1969, presidents have been calling for energy independence and a transition away from fossil fuels. So why are we still waiting?

We need Sens. Olympia Snowe’s and Susan Collins’ leadership to pass strong, meaningful legislation that significantly reduces our dependence on oil and promotes clean, renewable energy that will never run out.

Jaremy Lynch

Harpswell

Many hard-working people prove Mainers aren’t lazy

Well, Maine is Vacationland — maybe that’s why we’re so lazy (“Maine is the 16th-laziest state? It’s too much work to argue,” Bill Nemitz, July 28).

I’m sure fishermen, lobstermen, farmers, foresters, medical personnel, etc. in Maine would disagree. Maybe people in other states don’t know how to relax, and maybe other states have more work-aholics. Down time is not a bad thing in moderation. Too much stress leads to health problems just as much as being lazy.

Maybe we should tax people who don’t take care of themselves. Or better yet, encourage people nationwide to eat healthy food and excercise — that would be more like real health care reform. There’s so much junk food out there, maybe it should be outlawed. It must be a constitutional right to manufacture all these products that are bad for people’s health.

I think developing bike trails, improving school lunches and requiring chain restaurants (and why not local restaurants?) to disclose caloric content of their food are great ideas.

Bill Nemitz’s column contained some important information. I do, however, think the data and studies were biased and did not reveal the whole story.

And I don’t understand why Nemitz felt compelled to criticize the Tea Party in his column. It was not really pertinent to the point.

Jim McLaughlin

Scarborough

More billions for war will end up breaking us

Congress voted to borrow another $33 billion to escalate the war in Afghanistan next year. Both Maine’s senators voted “yes” to spend more money, while both of Maine’s representatives wisely voted “no.”

Perhaps Reps. Chellie Pingree and Mike Michaud weren’t fooled by the name “Supplemental Funding Bill for Disaster Relief and Summer Jobs.” Maybe they remembered the president’s promise when running for office to never fund wars with so-called emergency supplemental bills (this is the second time he has broken that particular promise).

Probably they read the report on American tax dollars flowing into the hands of warlords for protection of convoys, money that then finds its way into the hands of Taliban fighters and is used to fund their attacks on those same convoys.

Or maybe they heard Gen. David Petraeus say that “there is no military solution in Afghanistan.”

Exit from Iraq? Not really. Most of the troops will go to Afghanistan while private contractors will be paid large sums to guard the huge, fortified U.S. Embassy we built there. As long as there is oil in Iraq, we won’t be leaving.

Oil continues to spew into the Gulf while we fight wars to control access to oil and gas in the Middle East.

The Pentagon is the largest user of oil on the planet, BP’s biggest customer, and also one of the biggest polluters. Who will pay to clean up the mess? BP reportedly will receive millions of dollars in tax breaks to offset the cost of the cleanup.

Each Maine family of four has contributed an average of $10,000 to these wars, with no end in sight. Will it continue until every one of us is bankrupt?

Lisa Savage

Solon

Constituent has a question, but Pingree won’t answer 

On July 22, I received a town hall conference call from Rep. Chellie Pingree and was invited to ask the congresswoman a question. The call screener assured me that there were only a few callers ahead of me, so I told him that I wanted to ask her a question that I had written seven times and had hand delivered once.

The congresswoman has repeatedly said that “the wealthy” need to pay more in taxes to help those who have less. While there is virtually no one who wants those truly in need to be neglected, it is disturbing to hear “the wealthy” constantly used as a pejorative. Certainly no poor person ever hired me, and certainly “the wealthy” pay their share in taxes.

The top 1 percent of American earners pay 40 percent of all taxes while the bottom 50 percent pay 3 percent. Why is there the notion that if one works hard and succeeds, he or she must be punished?

With this in mind, I simply wanted to ask the congresswoman again what the difference, if any, is between taxing “the wealthiest Americans” to pay for health care and other commodities for those unable to afford it and the Marxist theory of “from each according to his ability, to each according to his need.”

I waited patiently for over 40 minutes while Rep. Pingree responded to over a dozen questions. Then the call was over and she told those waiting, as she had repeatedly during the call, that every effort would be made to respond if we would send our questions to her office.

Although I have been posing this question since last July with no response, today I tried again, sending an e-mail through her official website. Somehow, I’m not holding my breath while I await her response.

Carole Graves

Brunswick