Sunday, April 20, 2014
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A reader praises a recent column about Maine’s economy and cites a proposal by Gov. Paul LePage, above, to reduce state revenue sharing as an example of “political process leadership.”
2013 File Photo/Gabe Souza
Throughout history, from Rome to Venice to Jamestown, Va., nations have crumbled each time the wealthiest among us has squeezed out the rest of its citizenry. The poor didn't dream up poverty because it's a great way to live.
Privately owned stores sell liquor at lower price
I have a simple question that I wish someone would answer: Why are liquor prices in Florida (where I spend a few winter months) 30 percent lower than in Maine?
Florida has a 100 percent private system. The state collects its liquor taxes, and that's it. Private businesses sell the liquor and set the prices.
Let's focus our energy on renewables, not tar sands
Tar sands oil has produced a tremendous economic boom in Alberta, Canada. Ten years ago, this was not possible because conventional oil supplies were too plentiful, resulting in a low commodity price that could not support the extraordinary costs of tar sands extraction.
It's expensive because massive diesel excavators scrape oil-laden sand from the earth and into diesel dump trucks that transport the sticky mixture to a refinery that uses natural gas to heat it up and liquefy the oil. Each day the process requires enough natural gas to heat 3 million Canadian homes.
When you factor in the gas and diesel needed for extraction, a barrel of tar sands oil contains three times more CO2 than a barrel of conventional oil.
When you consider that Maine already has the highest per capita CO2 emissions in New England, as well as the unfortunate distinction of the highest per capita oil consumption in the region, every Mainer should be questioning whether it makes sense to start bringing tar sands oil down through our state.
Maine has abundant renewable resources in the form of biomass, tidal, solar and wind energy. As the cost and consequences of burning fossil fuels go up every day, the return on investment from renewables improves proportionally.
We are now building homes in Maine that require almost zero fossil fuel energy, and we are retrofitting older homes to significantly reduce fuel consumption.
Let's say "no thank you" to tar sands oil and redouble our efforts to wean ourselves off the fossil fuels that gobble up more than $5 billion per year from our local economy.
Investing just one-fifth of the state's annual fossil fuel tab in renewables each year could have us racing toward energy independence. Bringing tar sands down from Canada will have us racing in the opposite direction.