January 16, 2013

Letters to the Editor: Tankers viable way to carry natural gas

Regarding the story “Maine companies tapping into virtual pipeline – tanker trucks” (Jan. 10):
I make my comments as bullet points:

click image to enlarge

Tanker trailers filled with liquefied natural gas feed the Madison Paper Industries mill last fall. With proper regulation and safety measures, trucks are a good way to deliver this fuel “to users who may be off a pipeline route,” a reader says.

Courtesy Xpress Natural Gas

For background, I am a former U.S. Coast Guard Marine Safety officer, merchant marine officer, pipeline operator and safety inspector and commercial lobsterman. I am realistically green.

Natural gas is in abundance in North, Central and South America.

Contrary to public perception, the U.S. imports only about 17 percent of imported crude oil from the Mideast. Most imports come from Canada, Mexico and the European North Sea.

Natural gas is the first step to energy independence.

Of course I wish we were totally green; however, the technology and infrastructure are not there yet.
I believe natural gas to be an important transition fuel to a green future.

Indeed, there are safety concerns around natural gas. It is highly flammable and potentially explosive. However, we can manage those risks.

In the marine transportation industry, natural gas tankers are built to very high safety standards, escorted by the Coast Guard in and out of ports as risk management practices are exercised.

I think the idea of using trucks for transportation is viable if properly regulated, and it provides the flexibility needed for commercial delivery to users who may be off a pipeline route.

We have all seen “oversized load” escorts on turnpikes, etc., essentially adding an extra measure of safety and awareness. Is it too far a stretch to have escorts, etc., for natural gas truck transportation? I think not.

When you stop at the next gas station to fill up your car or truck, ask yourself, “Am I driving a green vehicle, or is it too inconvenient? How did this fuel get here?”

The answer is, it came by truck.

John Stuart

Critics of Baxter Academy ignore small schools’ virtues

As I have been following the saga of the new Baxter Academy charter high school in Portland, I continue to be astounded by the remarks by our community leaders and others, such as Craig King from Topsham (“Letters to the editor: Charter school offers nothing new,” Jan. 10).

He wrote, in support of Portland Mayor Michael Brennan, “I don’t see how we all benefit from replicating on a smaller scale programming and ‘opportunities’ that are already provided by the three public high schools that serve Portland students.”

Small schools matter, according to research by WestEd, a nonprofit research, development and service agency that works with education and other communities to promote excellence, achieve equity and improve learning for children.

Small schools are extremely beneficial in many areas. Research shows that violence and behavior problems diminish, attendance is higher, drop-outs are fewer, extracurricular participation increases and poor and minority students benefit most of all.

Small size offers opportunity with a more human scale that allows for personal connection, which enhances learning. Small schools invite a greater sense of engagement among students, and personal value when their teachers know them.

Also, parent and community involvement increases; therefore, better links are made among the school, local businesses and community organizations.

Communication is easier because of the simplicity and focus of the learning environment; therefore, the instructional quality improves vastly. Teachers feel more satisfied because they are able to be more innovative and have more accessibility to their peers for input and collaboration.

Most importantly, small schools promote a culture of caring and rigor marked by hard work, flexibility and high aspirations.

Perhaps Craig King and Mayor Brennan should spend their time concentrating on what is best for students through school reform rather than attacking Baxter Academy.

(Continued on page 2)

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