May 20, 2013

Letters to the editor: City should reject oil sands resolution

The 400 members of the Maine Energy Marketers Association work every day to lower energy prices for their customers.

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Chris Jones of Albian Sands Energy describes the company’s oil sands project in Fort McMurray, Alberta, in 2005. Energy prices in Maine could rise if Portland city councilors back a resolution opposing the delivery of oil sands through the region, says the head of a group of oil dealers.

2005 File Photo/The Associated Press

The Portland City Council will soon consider a resolution opposing the transportation of oil sands through the region. This resolution could limit our supply of petroleum products and lead to higher energy prices for Maine consumers.

The Alberta oil sands in Canada is the third largest reserve of crude in the world, has safely been a part of our fuel mix for decades and is putting downward pressure on consumer prices.

Earlier this year, a report in the Maine media put a barrel of oil from Alberta at about $60 a barrel compared to $118 a barrel for traditional foreign sources.

In January, the City Council considered a policy prohibiting the purchase of oil sands-derived products for Portland's fuel needs. The council unanimously rejected that policy once it learned it would be impossible to source petroleum products in the market that could be certified to be free of oil sands-derived crude.

The Legislature's Environment and Natural Resources Committee reached a similar conclusion last week.

Members of the committee unanimously agreed to drop an oil sands moratorium from a bill after hearing from the Department of Environmental Protection that "refined oil may be comprised of oil from a variety of sources. The proposed moratorium could significantly reduce the availability of oil products in Maine and increase energy costs to Maine citizens and businesses."

Eliminating oil sands crude from our fuel mix would be both unworkable and costly. We urge the City Council to reject the oil sands resolution.

Jamie Py

president, Maine Energy Marketers Association


Labor's foes spread myth of compulsory unionism

On April 24, I attended a work session on three bills before the Joint Committee on Labor, Commerce, Research and Economic Development dealing with workers' compensation.

A side conversation near me indicated that two bills attempting to crush Maine unions, L.D. 786 and L.D. 831, submitted by Rep. Lawrence Lockman, R-Amherst, had gone down in flames in the House of Representatives.

I asked the gentleman receiving the news if I had heard right. I was told that I had, and that he was disappointed because he doesn't believe in forced unionism.

I am a 34-year member of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, and you know what? I agree with that statement, because forced unionism is illegal by law. So there goes one huge myth.

Unions are required by law to represent all members of the bargaining unit. Most unions are universal in believing that all workers who benefit from that representation should at least be required to contribute their fair share of the costs of negotiating and administering the collective bargaining agreement -- and I agree -- but they cannot exclude workers who don't support the union.

The point is simply that union leaders must represent all bargaining unit members fairly and without prejudice.

During my years as a union representative, I represented nonmembers the same as union members.

Did I like it? It didn't matter. It was the job I was elected to do.

Bruce K. Hixon




Proposal to arm school staff leaves pupil feeling fearful

I am in middle school, and I am concerned about the bill L.D. 1429, which proposes school staff could have guns in their possession to keep their students safe and protected.

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