July 29, 2013

Letters to the editor: Tar sands ban will help rein in warming

Regarding the recent story "Critics sound alarm on S. Portland plan to ban tar sands oil" (July 24):

click image to enlarge

Members of the Concerned Citizens of South Portland attend a June news conference after collecting enough signatures to get a referendum on the ballot to block the passage of so-called tar sands oil through the city.

2013 File Photo/John Patriquin

No, of course Larry Wilson, president of Portland Pipe Line Corp., is not an evil person, nor are his employees and affiliated workers. And I don't doubt that his company is well managed.

But the members of the Pipe Line family will be on the wrong side of history unless Mr. Wilson can help them understand three basic facts: (1) global warming is real; (2) it is human-induced, primarily by our reliance on fossil fuels for energy, and (3) the climatic changes it causes will increase exponentially the length of the transition to renewable forms of energy.

These assertions are based on sound science, not speculation or theory, and represent the thinking of scientists and scientific organizations around the globe, in spite of the difficulty climatologists have in predicting the exact sequence and timing of future events.

I don't want families depending upon employment in the fossil fuel industry to suffer, but that does not mean that we must ignore reality. From environmentalists to pipeline operators and everyone in between, we must begin in earnest to plan for the phase-out of fossil fuels as the driving force of our economy and our society.

If we do this responsibly, over a reasonable but finite period of time here in Maine, we can minimize the negative impacts on those in the business of supplying these fuels, and at the same time, make a small but essential contribution to the huge task facing humankind.

It is possible that the ordinance submitted by the petitioners needs to be tweaked slightly to avoid unintended consequences, but its primary goal is sound. Tar sands oil must not have a place in our future.

Joe Hardy


Obamacare's insurance tax threat to small businesses

We need our members of Congress to repeal the health insurance tax portion of the Affordable Care Act.

This tax will be imposed on health insurance companies but then likely passed down to their customers. It is estimated that increased premiums will cost an additional $500 per covered employee each year starting in 2014. This is an amount that many small businesses will not be able to easily absorb.

As a small-business owner in Gray for 32 years, I will probably not be affected by this tax since I don't currently have any employees. However, I am very concerned because I believe that small businesses are critical for economic recovery and job growth.

If the tax is not repealed, it is going to make marginal businesses even more marginal or, worse yet, nonexistent. It will also cause stable businesses to think twice about adding more employees and offering health insurance. Finally, as the government imposes more taxes, small businesses will have less money to donate to their communities.

As the small-business community continues to struggle to recover from the recent recession, we do not need to be saddled with higher costs.

Fortunately, some representatives and senators have had the foresight to propose legislation to eliminate the health insurance tax before it can inflict any damage. We will all benefit should Congress pass the Jobs and Premium Protection Act.

David Gray

owner, Long Hill Inc.


LePage scapegoat for critics of school military recruiters

On July 21, Steven Mistler wrote ("Failed recruiting bill succeeding as political wedge issue") that the military recruiter issue "appears destined to become campaign fodder in 2014." And well it should.

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