On May 17, I attended an informative roundtable discussion in Portland. It focused on the recently proposed global warming pollution standards for new power plants issued by the Environmental Protection Agency.

Curt Spalding, head of the EPA New England office, was on hand, taking public comment on the rule from a diverse panel of Maine citizens who shared compelling evidence of climate change affecting Maine.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Maine just had the warmest 12-month stretch on record. Portland received half of its typical snowfall this past winter. Nationwide, NOAA says that this past winter was the fourth warmest on record, with the average temperature 3.9 degrees warmer than usual.

This had a direct negative impact on Maine’s winter tourism economy, including skiing, lodging and outdoor gear sales.

With the summer tourism season on our doorstep, I fear that more bad ozone days and 100-degree weather will stunt tourism dollars. Tourism is the largest industry in Maine, contributing more than $10 billion to Maine’s economy every year. Scientists predict that by the end of the century, Maine’s climate will be similar to that of Georgia! This will have serious negative implications for Maine’s tourism industry year round.

For the first time, our country is considering bold limits to industrial carbon from power plants, the single largest source of global warming pollution. The New Source Performance Standards will limit the amount of CO2 that newly built power plants may emit.

Acting now to reduce climate change, we will ensure that Maine remains a year-round tourism destination for centuries to come. I urge Maine’s congressional delegation to support this rule and resist attempts in Congress to weaken or delay it. Time is running short to fight climate change.

Clare Ruthenburg

Portland

Voting for gay marriage shows belief in America

The vast majority of immigrants to the U.S. ran to escape religious persecution in their home countries. Many more escaped authoritarian regimes that sought to micromanage their lives. We are their children, and we take pride in America’s promise.

The American Declaration of Independence says, “We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.”

The 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution states, “nor shall any state deprive any person the equal protection of the laws”; and further, “No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States.”

The Pledge of Allegiance promises “with liberty and justice for all.”

The chains at the feet of the Statue of Liberty are broken, symbolizing forward movement; and the National Park Service provides the interpretation that “freedom is not standing still.”

The state of Maine has made and enforced laws that abridge the privileges of gay and lesbian citizens with respect to marriage. The marriage laws have not been applied equally to all citizens. We have, therefore, infringed on the unalienable rights to liberty and the pursuit of happiness of gay and lesbian citizens.

A vote for official recognition of gay and lesbian marriages this November does not mean that you yourself are homosexual, or even that you approve of homosexuality. A vote for gay and lesbian marriage this November simply means that you believe in America. Freedom is the ability to work out your own destiny, not to have it imposed on you.

We must have the humility to allow others what we hope for ourselves.

John Henderson

Auburn

Volk Packaging has clear record on workers’ comp

On May 16, Petros Panagakos wrote an opinion piece (Another View, “Column took unfair shot at good nominee for SBA post”) suggesting Volk Packaging may have a “personal agenda” concerning Steve Minkowski, a former Maine Workers’ Compensation Board employee. In addition, the board has received several inquiries from the news media asking if the Workers’ Compensation Board has ever taken any action against Volk Packaging.

I had the board staff review our records. These are records concerning administrative actions taken against employers for failing to comply with our statute. A thorough records review showed that the Workers’ Compensation Board has never had a problem with Volk Packaging.

Eleven years ago, the company’s insurance carrier filed a document with the board several days late. The carrier paid a modest “late filing penalty.” Volk Packaging, however, has never been the subject of a board investigation or administrative action.

The records from the Workers’ Compensation Board demonstrate Volk Packaging manages its workers’ compensation matters consistent with its statutory obligations.

Paul H. Sighinolfi

executive director/chair, Workers’ Compensation Board

Brewer

Freeport resident shares concern about fireworks

I appreciated Kelley Bouchard’s article of May 15 (“Fireworks plan has one couple seeing red”). It described one couple with farm animals who will be very negatively impacted by a larger and longer display of fireworks in Freeport, especially since the staging area will be located very close to their farm.

There are many other people who have farm animals, domestic pets and very young children who will also feel the impact of the long duration of explosions. We have many senior citizens and infirm residents who may be affected by these fireworks.

L.L. Bean, the sponsor of these fireworks, always prides itself on promoting healthy outdoor activities and protecting the environment, so perhaps the company should look into less polluting and harmful ways to celebrate, such as laser light shows or other new technologies.

It would also be good if our town manager stepped up and assisted residents in resolving problems, instead of just saying “people love fireworks.” Many of us do not. I am hopeful that someone will step up with a reasonable solution to resolve this dangerous problem.

Roben Voigt

Freeport