July 10, 2013

Letters to the editor: Foes of tar sands oil ignore the facts

Concerning Lucas Greco's letter of June 12 about the so-called tar sands oil moving south to South Portland ("Tar sands supporters skirt the real issue"):

He is clearly misrepresenting the facts concerning Canadian oil extracted from the Alberta tar sands fields to cast it in a less favorable light.

Mr. Greco claims the Canadian oil is "more abrasive" because it has sand in it.

The oil is extracted from the tar sands deposits, but the sand is left behind. The oil is carefully cleaned to remove all traces of sand or other abrasives for the very reason Mr. Greco claims: because it would be a problem.

The pipeline company has too much invested in the pipeline and its safe operation to allow any abrasive material in the line.

Just as Mr. Greco would not add sand to the crankcase of his car and changes the oil filter regularly, the pipeline company would not allow sand in its pipeline. It could be catastrophic. The owners aren't stupid.

Let's look into the future to see what could easily happen.

In the not-too-distant future, Canada will produce more oil than is needed for the Montreal refinery. At that time, imports through South Portland and the Portland-Montreal Pipe Line Corp. will end.

If people like Mr. Greco have their way and oil cannot be sent south in that pipeline for export, the company will close and the jobs and taxes will also end. We need the jobs and the associated taxes.

I do hope the citizens of Maine and especially South Portland see through the smokescreen being thrown up by some well-organized and misguided environmentalists (if that is really what they are) and ensure the continued operation of a well-run and environmentally friendly company.

Richard Prince
South Portland 

Deen's honesty under oath draws generational support

At Vine Street Elementary School in Bangor in 1951, I found my first "best friend," Barbara. Her dad was in the Air Force at Dow Field. We walked to and from school together (you could do that then). At each other's houses, we played every game made for two that 5-year-olds could do.

When we had to decide who goes first, we used a rhyme to decide, "Eenie, meenie, minie, moe, catch an N-word by the toe," etc.

My mother heard us saying this rhyme while we were "deciding." She very gently said that she would explain to me later why that was not the best way to choose and that Barbara's mother would explain it to Barbara when she got home. We certainly stopped using that word once we were told it was a bad word.

Until we were "educated," we had not even noticed that I was white and Barbara was black. We had thrown the N-word around almost every day, but no more, Ever. It may have taken longer in the South to become a bad word, as we all learn from our elders.

Now at 66 years old, if I ever had to make a sworn affidavit as to whether I had ever used the N-word, I, being an honest person, would absolutely have to say, "Yes, of course, but not for a long time."

Of course I have no "star power," no wealth to lose or cede to people seeking to sue me, but I can and always will stand behind the honest and truthful people who refuse to lie under oath.

Every TV station, store and product line that has jumped on the bandwagon to condemn Paula Deen has lost me. It will not matter to them, but in my own way I feel I am saluting the honesty of a woman of my generation who refused to lie about the past.

Jan I. Blanchard
Portland

No one should tolerate LePage's crude remarks

For me, the governor has finally crossed a line ("LePage draws fire for sexual remark," June 20). In the past his rude and crude comments were barely palatable, but the Vaseline comments pushed him over into being obscene and disgusting. How far we've lowered the bar for this man!

Could you imagine if Barack Obama or Mitt Romney had made such comments last year on the campaign trail, or Susan Collins or Olympia Snowe? Any one of their careers would have come to an immediate halt.

So I ask again, how is it we give this man a free rein in his utterances? I'm sure there are many who applaud his diatribes, but to you I say this: It is OK to vehemently agree with his politics, at the same time condemning his behavior in public.

David M. Puff
Arrowsic

'De-risking' of pensions moves the risk to retirees

I am deeply concerned that Congress is not taking action to protect defined benefit pensions, and pensioners, as intended when the Employee Retirement Income Security Act was signed into law in 1974.

Congress needs to strengthen ERISA to make sure that companies with a continuing pension plan can only offer lump sum payments or purchase group annuity contracts within the pension plan in lieu of traditional monthly benefit payments to retirees.

What pension plan sponsors and insurance companies call "de-risking" is, in fact, a shifting of risks from pension plan sponsors (former employers) to the retirees by purchasing third-party annuities outside the defined benefit plan insured by the Pension Benefit Guarantee Corp. under ERISA.

Plan sponsors avoid the obligation of properly funding and insuring the payment of vested pension benefits; retirees receive their benefit payments from an insurance company, rather than the plan, and those payments are no longer secured by the Pension Benefit Guarantee Corp.

While insurance companies may currently be financially sound, the recent history of the demise or bailouts of firms once considered "too big to fail" illustrates the risks being shifted to retirees. Verizon, GM, Ford and other companies have already implemented the "de-risking" strategies.

I urge pensioners to contact their senators and congressional representatives and urge them to call on the secretary of labor and the director of the Pension Benefit Guarantee Corp. to immediately impose a moratorium on any such actions in order to determine whether it is harmful to pension plan participants and thereby contrary to the legislative intent of ERISA.

Also, pensioners should request that the Pension Benefit Guarantee Corp. insurance continues to protect retirees and that there are sufficient regulatory safeguards to ensure that any proposal is in retirees' best interest.

Brian Thomas
Bridgton

 

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