March 12, 2013

Letters to the editor: Tar sands pipeline's pros and cons

(Continued from page 1)

TAR SANDS
click image to enlarge

Mining trucks carry oil-laden sands at the Albian Sands project in Alberta, Canada, in 2005. Readers weigh the impact of piping tar sands oil through Maine.

The Associated Press

These facts make an environmental impact study necessary for us and future generations.

Fred Brancato

Portland 

I am writing in response to the folks who are opposed to "tar sands." I find it ironic that the people who are so concerned about managing the environment in a "sustainable" way are seemingly unconcerned about managing our economic affairs in a "sustainable" way.

I have confidence that our engineers and regulators can determine whether or not it is safe (and cost-effective) to pipe this type of oil through Maine.

I am far more concerned about Maine's high energy costs contributing to an exodus of our citizens as they are forced to look for jobs elsewhere than I am about an exodus of people as a result of some sort of freak environmental accident.

Even worse, we have citizens who are being "sustained" by largely borrowed welfare monies because we have a lack of good jobs.

We seem to be "polluting" our children with debt obligations that their parents seem unwilling or unable to pay. How about putting a "sustainable" economy on a par with a "sustainable" environment?

Joanne Fryer

Cumberland

Much of the debate about the tar sands pipelines has centered on the potential for oil spills. While spills are a significant risk, the impact on the climate is the overriding concern.

The change in the climate that has already occurred is obvious. First frost comes in mid-October instead of mid-September. Apple trees blossom in April. Lake ice is unsafe well into January. Insects like ticks that were once frozen out of Maine are migrating north, with the diseases they carry.

The U.S. and Canada are the top two per capita energy consumers in the developed world. In the U.S., it is commonly accepted that cheap energy is a prerequisite for a healthy economy. If so, why is Germany, where gas sells at $8.56 a gallon, the economic juggernaut of Europe?

In Maine, the long-term economic risks from a warming climate are lost in our focus on the short-term economy. Consider a few of those risks:

The ski and snowmobiling industries will suffer from less snow and shorter winters.

The maple sugar industry will decline as maple trees die off.

The shellfish industry will decline, with warmer ocean water and carbon-induced acidification.

Coastal communities will see more frequent and severe flooding.

We need to wean ourselves from fossil fuels, not add sources with energy-intensive extraction requirements.

Climate scientists overwhelmingly recognize that the planet is warming dramatically and that the future risks are daunting. A handful of bogus studies funded by ExxonMobil and other fossil fuel interests have perpetuated uncertainty.

We need President Obama to require environmental impact assessments for pipelines carrying tar sands in Maine and elsewhere, and for Maine's congressional delegation to be leaders on enacting federal climate policy.

Tony Marple

Whitefield

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