May 17, 2013

Letters to the editor: Scope of Styrofoam ban questioned

I am an employee of a Portland-based company that distributes expanded polystyrene shipping containers to local seafood companies.

click image to enlarge

Maryellen O’Toole of Scarborough carries a cup of coffee from a Portland Dunkin’ Donuts. A reader wonders if the city of Portland’s proposed ban on Styrofoam packaging would apply to things like the cups, which are made not of Styrofoam but of a different material – expanded polystyrene,

2013 File Photo/Gabe Souza

I write this letter in the hope that it may help the Portland City Council understand some important questions and concerns of some who work and/or live in Portland regarding the proposed citywide Styrofoam ban ("Portland moves toward ban on Styrofoam packaging," May 7).

I have heard it said that the proposed ban will not have an effect on the seafood companies in Portland that rely on expanded polystyrene, as it is a Food and Drug Administration-approved means of shipping for their perishable items.

But I have to ask the question: What's the difference between expanded polystyrene shipping containers and an expanded polystyrene Dunkin' Donuts cup?

How can we rest easy that we won't be directly affected now or at a later date?

Will the exemption for shipping containers be written into the citywide ban?

Additionally, I am hopeful that the Green Packaging Working Group has reviewed the following facts about expanded polystyrene before they make any quick decisions.

Expanded polystyrene creates 20 percent less greenhouse gas emissions during its life span than fiberboard, paperboard or cardboard.

Expanded polystyrene does not leach any toxic chemicals into the ground, nor does it release methane gas into the ozone.

Expanded polystyrene foam is 100 percent recyclable. (For more information about expanded polystyrene, visit www.epspackaging.org.)

I hope the City Council does its part to clear up the misconceptions about expanded polystyrene and about how it defines "Styrofoam" as it moves forward. Additionally, I hope the council can offer more information than it has to its constituents to help ease their fears.

While we all agree that we want our children to have a safe and healthy world to live in, my hopes are that we can achieve that in an honest and truthful way that doesn't harm those people already struggling in a tough economy.

Emily Tibbetts

Portland

1943 graduate of MMA: Press missed a good story

My wife and I had the pleasure and privilege of attending a college graduation May 4 at one of Maine's most unique schools, Maine Maritime Academy in Castine, on the Bagaduce River off Penobscot Bay.

This was the 70th commencement exercise for the academy, which graduated its first class in 1943, following entry of the United States into World War II.

There were two members of this first class on hand who MMA President Dr. William Brennan called upon to stand and be applauded by the class of 2013: Capt. Dick Spear, former head of the Maine Ferry Service, and myself.

This highly specialized institution trains young men and women as officers for duty in the maritime world as well as in both the U.S. Navy and the U.S. Coast Guard.

Additionally, approximately one-half of the members of the student body are nonregimental in nature, pursuing specialized academic subjects of their choice. All students graduate with accredited degrees.

The graduation itself was extremely interesting, again bringing out the uniqueness of the regimental and nonregimental blend of the student body. Half of the students were in military uniforms, while the other half were in academic regalia. There was the official swearing-in of the new Navy/Coast Guard officers, as well as the announcements of all the special academic degrees and awards.

The graduation exercises were held in the very large field house to a standing-only crowd of proud parents and well wishers.

The special graduation speaker was Gov. LePage, who addressed the graduating class with a very fine message. However, I think all the graduates will remember the governor with deep appreciation, primarily for how short his speech was.

Sadly, and possibly the reason for my letter, was the fact that there was no mention of this very special graduation by the Press Herald, nor, to the best of my knowledge, by the Bangor Daily News.

Bill Brennan

retired commander, U.S. Navy; retired captain, Maine Maritime Academy; emeritus commandant of midshipmen, MMA

Falmouth

Governor sets right tone for solving financial crisis

There's a quote that goes, "If your government believes that the best way to eradicate trillions of dollars of debt is to spend trillions more -- you might live in a nation that was founded by geniuses but is run by idiots."

Gov. LePage deserves a "thank you" for standing strong on the principles necessary to get Maine back on its financial feet. The decisions being made are difficult but necessary for debt reduction. There are two ways of reducing debt: Stop spending so much or pay higher taxes.

His efforts on the revitalization of the waterfront by building a long-term relationship with Eimskip is a big step in the right direction -- more jobs and a larger tax base.

I believe we Mainers need to be part of the solution and not part of the problem. Maine will be a great place to live again, and with everyone's help, it will be sooner rather than later.

Timothy Hiltz

Falmouth

Let's keep public money away from private schools

The idea of giving private schools public money redefines the word "private." Private is private. Why should public money be used for private schools, especially those affiliated with religion?

Unfortunately, Gov. LePage fails to see that there are those who are opposed, diametrically, to many of the teachings of religious-affiliated schools and that using public money to perpetuate that leaves no separation of church and state.

As it is, the city of Sanford gives money to the St. Thomas School, and there are many residents who oppose this because the school is private and because it is religious-affiliated.

If parents want to send their children to private schools, then send them and pay for it without subsidies from taxpayers. Keep "public," public, and "private," private.

A.S. Milton

Springvale

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