Tuesday, March 11, 2014
The 400 members of the Maine Energy Marketers Association work every day to lower energy prices for their customers.
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.
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
IUMSWA/IAMAW Local S6 AFL-CIO
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.
When my mother informed me of this proposal, the first words out of my mouth were: "I would feel more unsafe with guns in the classrooms than without them."
I think that more students would feel more unsafe than safe with guns in the classroom.
In regard to Sandy Hook, that is tragic and wrong, but I do not think that teachers wielding guns is safe or protecting at all. Schools are meant to be safe environments, and with weapons in classrooms, I do not think that, as Americans, we are helping our students feel more safe when going to school.
The reason why I do not feel safe with this prospect is because if something went wrong, it would impact a lot of families, students and communities. "What ifs" can ruin someone's life, but I believe that fighting a weapon with a weapon is not the way to go.
Like the famous columnist "Dear Abby" said, "People who fight fire with fire usually end up with ashes."
Enforcing city rules could cut Portland's welfare costs
It seems that Bangor has the right idea when it comes to managing the taxpayers' money.
This quote comes from the May 11 Lewiston Sun Journal:
"BANGOR - A Bangor panhandler has been removed from general assistance for 120 days for failing to reveal the income, a consequence that could slow the spread of panhandling, according to the community's public services director."
With panhandlers seemingly standing at almost every major Portland intersection with signs, hitting on motorists day and night, the city may be able to save enough money to help pay for a laid-off teacher or two.
I'm just saying.
Bicycle commuter thanks those who make it possible
Last week was officially National Bike to Work Week.
Thank you to all of you motorists who carefully avoid me as I ride from Cape Elizabeth to Scarborough Terrace.
Thank you to developers and supporters of the Eastern Trail, who made it safer for me to ride from Black Point Road to Scarborough Terrace safely: I use "the back way" and end up south on Route 1 -- alive.
And thanks to the Bicycle Coalition of Maine, our local bike shops and local forward thinkers for making biking a way of life in Greater Portland.