January 4, 2013

Letters to the editor: Don't let energy independence stall

Now that the United States, because of its abundant supply of natural gas and shale oil, has the opportunity to become energy independent, opposition to fracking for gas and building pipelines for oil is heating up.

click image to enlarge

A worker hangs from an oil derrick in North Dakota, which set an oil-production record for the fifth year in a row in 2011.

2011 File Photo/The Associated Press

Some of our politicians, unelected regulators and environmentalists are waging an all-out war on both fracking and the construction of oil pipelines through overly burdensome regulations and scare-tactic media propaganda, including movies.

There has been speculation that much of this opposition to energy independence for the United States is being financed by Saudi Arabia, which has a vested interest in preventing us from becoming energy independent. It is apparent that there are some people in our country determined to prevent the United States from making any economic headway.

Meanwhile, as reported in the Wall Street Journal of Dec. 29-30, a Chinese billionaire is the primary financier of a project to blast the top off a hill in Nevada called Mount Hope to remove and ship to China the hill's lode of a metal called molybdenum, a metal used to harden steel. Mount Hope is reported to have one of the largest undeveloped deposits of this metal in the world. The Bureau of Land Management has given approval for this mine to operate.

Even though it is a private project, it is known that the Chinese Communist government supports, helps and coordinates the development of such enterprises. How is all this in keeping with concern about the environment and our national security?

We in the United States are so eager to restrict any progress to improve our own economy, but are so ready and willing to be exploited by the outside world. Where are our leaders who keep harping about doing the right thing for our country?

Barbara Goodwin

Portland

Lack of information stalls progress on U.S. gun policy

As a nation, we need to enact meaningful changes to our gun laws. I am a gun enthusiast, and I support new gun laws. The problem is that the public remains largely uninformed on guns.

There are three meaningful changes that we can make.

First: If we extend background checks to private sales, then we can help keep guns in safe hands.

Second: We can ban high-capacity magazines. It will decrease an individual's killing power. Unfortunately, it will have no immediate effect. It will take decades to decrease the number that have already been sold.

Third: The issue of "assault weapons." There is only one change to be made: banning collapsible stocks and short barrels. They make a weapon easier to conceal and make it better in tight places, like a school or movie theater.

The other characteristics of "assault" rifles are just cosmetic. The term comes from the rifles being knock-offs of military weapons. The difference is in its action. Real assault rifles are fully automatic, while the civilian versions are not.

I will remind you that fully automatic weapons are already illegal and have not been used in any of the killings that we are talking about.

There is nothing about the semiautomatic weapons that makes them more dangerous than a classic hunting rifle. The pistol grip that is characteristic of these weapons was designed to help control the gun while firing 800 rounds per minute on full automatic. They are irrelevant on the civilian versions.

Flash suppressors and muzzle brakes were also designed for fully automatic rifles and are also irrelevant on civilian versions.

If you want to enact meaningful changes, please take the time to learn about guns. If we pass the right laws, we can make a difference.

Zeke Jordan

Portland 

Saturday hours at City Hall wasteful, discriminatory

As a citizen and taxpayer of the city of Portland, I am very disappointed in the mayor and the City Council for showing special privileges to the gay people (who claim that they do not want special rights) by putting 10 staffers on time and a half to open the City Clerk's Office at midnight Dec. 29 and remain open on a Saturday, a day that they are not usually open, so that the gay people could get their marriage licenses early.

This would not be done for straight people (never has been and most likely never will be). I feel this is very appalling to all of Portland's taxpayers and clearly a case of reverse discrimination.

I feel that the city planners and our first elected mayor showed a lack of fair judgment in the best interest of all the people who call Portland home.

Stephen Pleau

Portland

Shooting victims' kin lose chance to see kids grow up

Like many people, the tragedy in Connecticut brings tears to my eyes every time I hear a parent speak of their loss.

My own children are grown, but the memories of their childhood ring out in those pitiful obituaries. The loss of a child is overwhelmingly sad, and even more so in these circumstances.

Reading how the everyday events of childhood are now the only memories left is painful. How the children smiled, played, laughed, loved and were simply happy children cuts to the heart.

Children's obituaries don't laud the wonderful contributions to society, academic achievements or amazing accomplishments that adults do.

They are simple, the basic stuff of life: warmth, caring, love, light. They remind me of the best thing about having children, the magic they bring to our lives. How they make mundane days fun, joyful and exciting.

Every day isn't a party, but when I look back, the days are full of life. Children remind us there is good in life, they don't even know how they transform their parents. We anticipate the holidays to enjoy their excitement, to watch the wonder and simple joy. To remember how a cardboard box became a rocket, or the warmth of a big sister waking her brother up on Christmas morning.

I am struck with the pain of how every holiday, birthday, graduation, wedding, even every small milestone of other children will be a daily reminder to parents who have lost a child that they are gone.

My only prayer when my children were small was that I live long enough to see them into adulthood. I have had that privilege, and I am so sorry for the parents who will not get to see that magic become an amazing, caring, loving adult. They have my deepest sympathy.

Ruth Smillie

Steep Falls

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