The Waterfront Protection Ordinance will protect South Portland residents and their neighbors to the west from the risks associated with reversing the pipeline.

As a former lobsterman from Cliff Island, I feel a deep responsibility to protect Casco Bay, its hardworking people and its incredible resources. (Lobster landings in Casco Bay last year were at a record high of 13.6 million pounds worth $39.8 million.)

Now is the time to see clearly what is at stake and ensure that the thick tar (bitumen), diluted with benzene and other carcinogenic solvents, isn’t allowed to burden us with its nature-destroying blight.

Tar sands oil is a dirty business from start to finish. If we do not act locally to protect our health, the air we breathe and the waters from which we drink, lobster and fish, it will be out of our hands. At this point our voices can be loud and clear: “Reversing the pipeline for tar sands oil is not good for Mainers and not good for the Earth.”

The train wreck in Lac-Megantic, Quebec, should have taught us a lot. The “fracked” shale oil that exploded in Quebec is no ordinary crude oil. It is more explosive. So is tar sands, which needs added solvents that allow it to flow.

We do not have to be deceived by claims that we would be harming our port by protecting our natural resources and our Sebago Lake water supply. Our oil port industry will remain healthy.

The lobster and fishing industries, marinas and recreational interests, the vacation and hospitality industries and the area’s magnetism as a “high-quality place to live” all depend on protecting our air, our land, our drinking waters and our coastal waters. What kind of world do we want to pass on to our children?

Ted Reiner

South Portland

Voting to update teaching labs is great investment

On Tuesday, Nov. 5, Maine citizens will have the opportunity to help our public universities improve the education offered to students in the sciences, technology, engineering and math.

Study after study shows that college-educated citizens in these STEM disciplines are absolutely critical if we are to be a part of the innovation-based economy of the 21st century.

Question 2 on the Nov. 5 ballot, if approved, will provide $15.5 million to update existing laboratory and classroom facilities throughout our statewide University of Maine System. The University of Southern Maine would receive $4 million for improvements to instructional science labs on its three campuses in Lewiston-Auburn, Portland and Gorham.

Question 5 on the ballot will, if approved, provide $15.5 million to the Maine Community College System to allow the system to upgrade buildings, classrooms and laboratories so the system can expand its programs in health care, precision machining, information technology and other key programs.

Question 4 on the ballot, if approved, will provide Maine Maritime Academy with $4.5 million for a public-private partnership for a new science facility.

USM, its sister institutions, the Maine Community College System and Maine Maritime Academy have done a tremendous job of leveraging dedicated federal, state and private funds to make targeted investments in research and upper-level labs.

But in an era of fiscal constraints, rising equipment costs, aging facilities and rapidly changing technology, there are fewer and fewer funding sources to help with updating of undergraduate teaching labs.

Each year, some 3,000 USM students majoring in the sciences, technology, engineering and health-related fields use those labs. Let’s get out and vote on Nov. 5 to give them the facilities they need and deserve. It’s a great investment in them, and in our collective future.

Denise Taaffe

chair, University of Southern Maine Board of Visitors

Scarborough

State Rep. Stuckey supports Jon Hinck for City Council

Jon Hinck was a terrific legislator. He’ll be an even better city councilor.

Democratic state Rep. Peter Stuckey

House District 114

Portland

We will all pay the price for legalizing marijuana

Soon residents in Portland will vote on whether to decriminalize possession of marijuana for recreational use. Some people I’ve talked with believe that if they choose not to use marijuana, they won’t be affected in a negative way if this passes.

Proponents say marijuana is less addictive than alcohol and causes less damage to the brain than alcohol and that related health care costs are less. That tells me it causes some brain damage and addiction, and creates some health-related costs.

We’re talking degrees of harm. How much damage to the brain is acceptable to you, and who ends up paying for that? Do you want to pay for more addiction services and health-related costs? The routes of all scenarios lead directly or indirectly to your wallets.

Responsible use, you say? I envision more people more often not in full control of their faculties, and more drivers under the influence hoping they don’t get caught.

How about an increase in air pollution? How will users keep their smoke from wafting into the personal space of others? I’m not convinced that inhaling smoke into the mouth, throat and lungs doesn’t negatively impact the cells of our bodies.

Do we really need to make yet another mood-altering drug more accessible to more people? Decriminalization is trending across the country.

When some time has passed and information is gathered about the negative consequences of decriminalizing pot for recreational use, I’m wondering what the personal cost will be for each of us, whether in terms of our wallets or the health and well-being of ourselves and our loved ones.

Please don’t tell me it’s all going to be good news. We will all pay the price for providing another legal way for people to get wasted.

Lisa Beecher

Portland