Reflecting on Portland’s anti-fracking march (“Huge crowd turns out to denounce possible transport of tar sands in region,” Jan. 27), I am reduced to one word: “What?”

The God who has blessed us with coal, oil and gas now gives us an alternative to the greed-filled fuels of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (our friendly energy provider — “Your needs, we squeeze”) with the addition of the shale oil/gas opportunity.

This boon is now made available through extraction technology that gives North America an abundance — yes, abundance — of petroleum reserves, albeit with added costs and steps required for safe extraction, but all manageable from a cost and safety standpoint with current technology.

We all favor an alternative energy that would make fossil fuel use obsolete, but such at this time does not exist. Wind, tide and solar cannot go far enough to eliminate our need for fossil and nuclear fuels, period, and offer their own damaging elements to the landscape. Speak to me of the “beauty” of a wind turbine — I’m afraid only the Dutch have succeeded.

Do we not remember the damaging exploitation of our nation in the early ’70s (which continues) when world oil prices quadrupled? Inexpensive energy was ripped asunder in months. I hope the marchers remember the crisis, which was led by Arab members of OPEC.

This action forced economic chaos in many industrialized nations, and developing countries were driven to costly foreign borrowing — all generating excessive profits for oil exporters.

I recall driving to New Jersey with my family, with no certainty of being able to buy fuel at any price. Indeed, I am convinced that much of our current economic and financial difficulties come as a result of OPEC price gouging, i.e. robber barons/sheiks.

Let’s remove the fear, uncertainty and doubt from this unfortunate resistance to progress and use facts so that OPEC can play games with its supply without benefit of our participating.

R. Ted Laguerre

Brunswick

LePage speech revises past, bodes poorly for the future

Recently, Gov. LePage outlined his proposals for Maine’s economy, energy and education systems. The mainstream media has dubbed the speech “conciliatory,” or at least not belligerent (“LePage less combative at second State of the State,” Feb. 6).

While this improvement in tone is welcome, the substance of his speech offers little, if anything, that will improve the lives of Mainers.

For example, Gov. LePage claimed in his speech that his administration provided Mainers “the largest tax cut in history.” However, according to the Maine Municipal Association, LePage’s tax cut is the largest tax shift in history — a $400 million tax shift. Of the $400 million tax cuts, $360 million were not paid for.

Faced with a huge shortfall in the budget, Gov. LePage has proposed suspending revenue sharing with municipalities for two years, shifting more than $200 million in costs to localities, forcing them to either slash vital services or raise property taxes to make up the difference.

So either the governor did not cut taxes as he has claimed, or he is responsible for a huge step backward in the quality and quantity of local services. Either way, this is no improvement.

John Forsyth

Topsham

Bill would give mentally ill input into their own care

Last week , the Legislature held hearings on a proposed bill sponsored by Sen. Margaret Craven of Lewiston. This bill urges the Department of Health and Human Services to begin implementing a more integrative approach to health care services for chronically mentally ill patients across the state.

As a graduate student in the field of social work who has been working in the mental health profession for the last six months, I recognize the immense need for integrative services for this population.

Currently, there is more than a 25-year difference in life expectancy between someone who is mentally ill and someone who is not. People suffering from chronic mental illness also have a mortality rate 2.5 times higher than the general population. This is usually due to complications they develop through poor physical health conditions.

Sen. Craven’s bill will help support those affected by mental illness through community initiatives such as self-help groups, proper health services and access to community resources.

Individuals will be encouraged to share their input on their personal treatment plans and decisions regarding where they receive their mental health services, thus empowering people who have been severely marginalized and oppressed by our society.

A whole-person approach to mental health is the key to attaining success. As a society we must stop looking at just one aspect of a person and ignoring all of the other parts.

Our friends, family and members of our community who are suffering from mental illness deserve the same chance at fulfilling their potential as the rest of us.

Shannon Saxby, BSW, MHRT/C

Cape Elizabeth

Humankind’s tunnel vision ensures suffering will go on

It makes me sad to see what’s becoming of this country. Congress, the National Rifle Association and so many others, lost in their own self-beliefs and narrow thinking.

The Second Amendment, the right to bear arms, has nothing to do with assault rifles and magazines. You hold on to it like it was a commandment.

This country was founded on the genocide of Native Americans. Land of the free!

The skies and oceans are polluted. Mother Earth is being poisoned by chemicals, fracking, clear cutting, strip mining and the Keystone XL pipeline. Animals like wolves are being slaughtered to the brink of extinction,

You have no respect left for the Earth, animals or children.

Wake up, they are all hurting.

Margo Lodge-Seven Oakes

Peaks Island