July 25, 2013

Letters to the editor: Train 'parking' policy factor in tragedy

(Continued from page 1)

click image to enlarge

Smoke rises after railway cars carrying crude oil derailed in Lac-Megantic, Quebec, on July 6. A reader blames the derailment on “the ridiculously dangerous practice of parking a train on a main running line,” rather than on a siding or in a rail yard.

2013 File Photo/The Associated Press

Jon Allan


King should 'lead the charge' on cutting carbon emissions

One of the most important decisions the United States must make is how best to slow climate change. A major step is to reduce carbon emissions, which trap heat, causing temperatures to rise, making our planet less hospitable, indeed intolerable for its inhabitants.

We propose Sen. Angus King, as an independent in a partisan Washington, to be the ideal candidate to head a coalition to lead the charge.

The need for action is urgent. With the burning of fossil fuels, we continue to add dangerous amounts of carbon to the atmosphere.

Earlier this year, worldwide carbon emissons levels reached 400 parts per million, and most of the scientific community asserts this has been the cause of our recent horrible weather events, such as the devastating Hurricane Sandy in the Northeast, severe drought in the Southwest, intense tornados in Oklahoma and runaway raging fires in Colorado.

Last July was the hottest month in the country since recordkeeping begain in 1895.

In a speech at Georgetown University in June, President Obama warned of the need to slow climate change. The president's push to decrease carbon emissions relies on action from power plants. How about citizen contributions?

Tom Friedman, writing in The New York Times last April, suggested a phased-in carbon tax of $20 to $25 a ton would reduce carbon emissions but also raise as much as $1 trillion over 10 years.

Half the tax revenues, he envisioned, could go toward cutting the tax rates of corporations and individuals; a quarter for infrastructure, preschool education, community colleges and research to create jobs now and in the future, and the remainder to reduce the deficit. (While a gas tax wouldn't be painless, Congress could cushion the impact on the poor.)

Why not urge the Budget Committee (of which Sen. King is a member) to include such a plan when Congress returns from its summer recess?

Lead the way, Sen. King.

William C. and Eleanor J. Tracy


Slowing down lets us enjoy beauty of our public spaces

I am not a horse rider, but I admire and respect Polly Merrill's plea for us to slow down our cars when we see a horse on the road and pass very cautiously ("Letters to the editor: Letting horse, rider proceed worth 30-second delay," July 18).

I hope we can all have this informative and urgent message in mind next time we see a horse and rider. And let's put her request to gently and respectfully share our public spaces in its broader context.

Let's also be vigilantly cautious and more patient on our roads around bikers, joggers, walkers, road workers and children playing.

And when we slow down to share our community spaces, we'll have a few extra moments to admire and appreciate all that is wonderful around us in southern Maine: rich forests, natural places, rolling landscapes, bird songs, dragonflies, small farms, vernacular architecture, culture, community.

Thomas Klak



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