Regarding the recent story “Critics sound alarm on S. Portland plan to ban tar sands oil” (July 24):

No, of course Larry Wilson, president of Portland Pipe Line Corp., is not an evil person, nor are his employees and affiliated workers. And I don’t doubt that his company is well managed.

But the members of the Pipe Line family will be on the wrong side of history unless Mr. Wilson can help them understand three basic facts: (1) global warming is real; (2) it is human-induced, primarily by our reliance on fossil fuels for energy, and (3) the climatic changes it causes will increase exponentially the length of the transition to renewable forms of energy.

These assertions are based on sound science, not speculation or theory, and represent the thinking of scientists and scientific organizations around the globe, in spite of the difficulty climatologists have in predicting the exact sequence and timing of future events.

I don’t want families depending upon employment in the fossil fuel industry to suffer, but that does not mean that we must ignore reality. From environmentalists to pipeline operators and everyone in between, we must begin in earnest to plan for the phase-out of fossil fuels as the driving force of our economy and our society.

If we do this responsibly, over a reasonable but finite period of time here in Maine, we can minimize the negative impacts on those in the business of supplying these fuels, and at the same time, make a small but essential contribution to the huge task facing humankind.

It is possible that the ordinance submitted by the petitioners needs to be tweaked slightly to avoid unintended consequences, but its primary goal is sound. Tar sands oil must not have a place in our future.

Joe Hardy

Wells

Obamacare’s insurance tax threat to small businesses

We need our members of Congress to repeal the health insurance tax portion of the Affordable Care Act.

This tax will be imposed on health insurance companies but then likely passed down to their customers. It is estimated that increased premiums will cost an additional $500 per covered employee each year starting in 2014. This is an amount that many small businesses will not be able to easily absorb.

As a small-business owner in Gray for 32 years, I will probably not be affected by this tax since I don’t currently have any employees. However, I am very concerned because I believe that small businesses are critical for economic recovery and job growth.

If the tax is not repealed, it is going to make marginal businesses even more marginal or, worse yet, nonexistent. It will also cause stable businesses to think twice about adding more employees and offering health insurance. Finally, as the government imposes more taxes, small businesses will have less money to donate to their communities.

As the small-business community continues to struggle to recover from the recent recession, we do not need to be saddled with higher costs.

Fortunately, some representatives and senators have had the foresight to propose legislation to eliminate the health insurance tax before it can inflict any damage. We will all benefit should Congress pass the Jobs and Premium Protection Act.

David Gray

owner, Long Hill Inc.

Gray

LePage scapegoat for critics of school military recruiters

On July 21, Steven Mistler wrote (“Failed recruiting bill succeeding as political wedge issue“) that the military recruiter issue “appears destined to become campaign fodder in 2014.” And well it should.

The Press Herald previously reported and the LePage administration has confirmed that Command Sgt. Maj. Richard Hannibal of the Maine National Guard emailed Education Commissioner Stephen Bowen on May 22 that seven high schools in southern Maine allow only “minimal access” to military recruiters. Some require that recruiters not wear military uniforms.

There is little practical difference between “minimal access” and outright banning. For example, “minimal discrimination” would be a contradiction in terms. “Minimal” means the least possible, barely adequate. “Minimal access” is arguably a violation of federal law and a signal that military recruiters are not welcome.

Since Command Sgt. Maj. Hannibal has no political ax to grind, it is eminently reasonable to believe that his field recruiters accurately reported their findings.

But if the recruiters’ findings are invalid, Yarmouth High School Principal Ted Hall’s quarrel is with Hannibal, not with LePage, and Hannibal is a liar, not LePage, as Sanford Superintendent David Theoharides alleges (“Yarmouth principal: LePage claim about military recruiters ‘just isn’t true’,” July 13).

Nineteen Democratic legislators were so concerned about ensuring Maine students would have full access to information about military careers that they voted against L.D. 1503 after having previously supported it.

This blunder presents LePage with a three-pronged campaign issue: suppressing students’ freedom to obtain employment information, disrespect for the military and hindering access to taxpayer-funded facilities.

Have anti-militarism and political correctness reached the point where military service is no longer looked upon as an honorable calling? And should the noble aspirations of those willing to serve this last, best hope of mankind, America, be met with scorn?

Will the sunshine patriots and the summer soldiers please stand up and be counted?

Walter J. Eno

Scarborough

Companies asking customers ‘to pay their taxes for them’ 

Re: “Maine Voices: On the street or at the checkout, donation requests stir conflicting feelings” (July 22:

I do not have conflicting feelings when asked by cashiers at local chain stores if I would like to donate to a charity. Corporations such as Irving or J.C. Penney should donate some of their profits instead of publicly asking their customers to give them a generous tax deduction.

Are these company’s executives lying awake at night worried about the homeless, or laughing all the way to the bank because their customers paid their taxes for them?

If I have to pay tax on my income, these corporations should be paying their share of tax on their profit. Giving to charities is a wonderful thing to do, but I won’t do it through their cash register.

I’m not going to pay their taxes for them.

Rachel Leighton

South Portland