Thursday, April 24, 2014
We just returned from visiting Maine's members of Congress in Washington, where we asked Sens. Susan Collins and Angus King to keep America from deepening our addiction to climate-threatening and environmentally damaging oil by saying "no" to tar sands.
A protester holds anti-tar sands posters at a Sebago Lake State Park rally in July. Leaders at the highest levels should say "no" to tar sands pipelines both nationally and locally, two Maine Guides write.
The Associated Press
Our visit coincided with the three-year anniversary of the tar sands pipeline oil spill on the Kalamazoo River, which, after a billion-dollar cleanup effort, still remains impacted by the tragic spill.
Our leaders can't have it both ways -- if they're truly committed to protecting America's wildlife and communities from climate change, they need to say "no" to the proposed Keystone XL tar sands pipeline and the massive amounts of climate-disrupting carbon pollution it would deliver.
Keystone XL would force America's wildlife and communities to accept the risks and destructive realities of oil spills: contaminated water supplies and climate-fueled extreme weather like Superstorm Sandy.
As the nation faces the prospect of the Keystone pipeline, Maine also faces the prospect of our existing pipelines being used to transport oil from the tar sands of Canada across Maine, leading some communities to take a leadership role rejecting tar sands oil on the local level.
Tar sands products are a direct threat to the resources the people of Maine hold most dear. A pipeline spill would be devastating to our clean rivers, forests and wildlife, and the people who rely on them to sustain their lifestyle.
As communities around Maine say "no" to tar sands, we need our leadership in Washington to join us and reject this dirty and dangerous fuel and help us move to a clean renewable energy economy.
Bill and Annah Houston
Registered Maine Guides
With all the rich summer folks, why is state so poor?
As I watch our legislators and governor struggle with the state budget and institute higher taxes, I look around at our beautiful state and wonder why Maine is in financial trouble.
Up and down the coast of Maine and on the lakes and rivers there are multimillion-dollar homes owned by (so-called) out-of-state residents. None of them are paying Maine income tax, yet they enjoy all of the benefits of living in our great state.
Many pay no income tax in any state as they claim residency in income-tax-free states such as New Hampshire, Florida or Texas. To make matters worse, they collect Social Security retirement and Medicare well beyond their contributions to the system.
Maine was once a place where small family cottages dotted the ocean and lake coastlines. The cottages are now mostly replaced by multimillion-dollar estates. The burden is now on the residents who contribute to support Maine's infrastructure with their income tax revenue.
Many of these people "from away" also work from their homes while in Maine. I am certain that there are home offices, emails and calls going back and forth. Business is transacted; therefore, income tax should be paid.
I suggest that we study the possibility of prorating Maine income tax for out-of-state residents who own property in our state. As radical as this sounds, the concept sounds good to me.
After all, this group of people certainly uses our roads and bridges, they visit our hospitals, they are protected by our police and state funds support all of the amenities they enjoy. Why not pay their fair share?
Maine legislators have nothing to fear from the out-of-staters -- they don't vote here!
Vitelli has the right stuff to represent District 19
On Aug. 27, the voters of District 19 (Sagadahoc County and Dresden) will vote for a new state senator in a special election. Fortunately for us all, a very qualified person has emerged to run.
Eloise Vitelli has a long record of accomplishments that reveal her dedication to the well-being of the people of Maine. She is currently employed by Women, Work and Community out of the University of Maine at Augusta. She is a member of the Maine Economic Council and has served as board president of the Midcoast Economic Development District. She is chair of the Permanent Commission on the Status of Women and has been since 2011.
Eloise knows the importance of quality public education. Previous to her current positions, Eloise was a Head Start teacher. She understands the absolute necessity of ensuring economic opportunities for all the people of Maine.
Eloise was inducted into the Maine Women's Hall of Fame because of her many accomplishments in advocating for women's economic empowerment and supporting entrepreneurs.
Please join me on Aug. 27 and let's elect this remarkable woman to the State Senate. Please vote for Vitelli!
Mainers entitled to know where DEP's priorities lie
Following a seven-month investigation ("The Lobbyist in the Henhouse," mentioned in "Request for probe of Maine DEP on hold," July 25), the Portland Press Herald revealed that Commissioner Patricia Aho of the Maine Department of Environmental Protection consistently ignored or outright opposed the enforcement of existing laws protecting Maine's environment to the benefit of her former corporate clients. We should all be concerned with this report.
Fortunately lawmakers are taking the allegations of malfeasance by Commissioner Aho seriously. I trust that state Sen. Chris Johnson, D-Somerville, will move his request for investigation by the Office of Program Evaluation and Governmental Accountability forward for its Sept. 12 meeting.
OPEGA should approve a probe of the allegations. It is important for residents of Maine to know whether the DEP is working to protect our environmental interests or the private interests of corporations.
I hope with the continued leadership of our Maine lawmakers that we will get to the heart of these allegations. Mainers deserve to receive the results of this investigation.
Lindsey and Andrew Cadot