Comments on Gulf oil spill continue to flow strongly

President Obama gave the first Oval Office speech of his presidency on the Gulf oil crisis, echoing growing sentiment around the country that oil companies like BP must pay for the mess they create.

He also reaffirmed the need for a new national climate and clean energy plan, rather the same old dirty energy plans we usually get from Congress and its Big Oil buddies. This will, in turn, help prevent future disasters.

Now more than ever, Senate passage of a strong clean-energy policy is imperative. Wildlife habitat and local economies along the Gulf Coast are being ravaged from this man-made catastrophe, and failing to seize this moment to enact meaningful policies to rectify these problems would truly be another tragedy.

President Obama has spoken, and now it’s the Senate’s turn to show leadership. For the sake of America’s environmental and economic health, it’s time for lawmakers to roll up their sleeves and get to work on passing a comprehensive climate and energy bill this year.

Katherine Davis



President Obama looks for whose “ass to kick,” which plays to the crowd and solves nothing. Congress holds noisy hearings, which solves nothing.

Destroying BP is not an energy policy. Putting up solar cells and windmills is not an energy policy.

Failing to properly regulate oil and gas extraction is not an energy policy. Ripping out hydroelectric facilities is not an energy policy.

Buying petroleum from Saudi Arabia and Iran is not an energy policy. Rejecting nuclear power is not an energy policy.

A drilling moratorium is not an energy policy. Boosting fuel prices and increasing taxes is not an energy policy.

Wake up, Washington. While you fiddle, Rome burns.

Henry Smith



The bane of our existence is our dependency on oil.

The long-term solution is the development and use of hydrogen fuel. Forget offshore drilling. The world’s supply of hydrogen is inexhaustible in the oceans, lakes and even our faucets.

The “exhaust” emitted from hydrogen-fueled vehicles is water. No more carbon monoxide polluting the air.

A few years ago, several hydrogen-fueled cars were on display at Portland Head Light. Beautiful automobiles. They went on to California.

In the west, California is leading the way in using hydrogen fuel. In the east, Maine could lead the way by some token use of hydrogen fuel, perhaps in some state-owned vehicles.

According to a recent news article, Toyota will have a mass-produced hydrogen-fueled car on the market by 2015. That’s real progress for the future that we should join.

Victor G. McNett



A recent Press Herald wire story quoted Louisiana’s governor as complaining that British Petroleum “didn’t have an adequate plan to deal with this spill.” It doesn’t say anything about whether Lousiana, with not only BP’s but many other oil rigs off its coast, had an adequate plan for such an emergency.

Since we haven’t been told of any, I take it that it had even less, perhaps about as much as it had for Katrina.

The federal government had a plan, which was to make rules for oil drilling and appoint regulators to see that they are followed. To get ahead of the problem instead of waiting for it to happen. That hasn’t worked great, either.

As usual, there seems to be plenty of blame to go around.

Does Portland have a plan for the possibility that there will be a high storm tide above that recently chosen as the acceptable limit of caution for waterfront development?

Do I have a plan for my being burned out of my home? (Nope.) Do you, dear reader?

Does humanity have a plan to avoid climate changes that will be dangerous to our accustomed ways of life? Oh, but it can’t get that bad — can it?

Richard B. Innes



The Gulf oil spill will exceed the Exxon-Valdez disaster by many millions of gallons. Dispersants may have prevented some oil from reaching sensitive marshes and shoreland, but the long-term toxic effects of these chemicals are not yet known.

Given that environmental damage associated with dispersants are likely to be out of sight and out of immediate experience of most Americans, we won’t pay attention to their impact over time.

Meanwhile, the Guardian Weekly in Britain reports that offshore oil wells in the Niger Delta spill as much oil as the Gulf oil spill every year. About the time of the Gulf spill, an ExxonMobil pipeline in the Niger Delta spilled approximately 1.2 million gallons of oil. A few days later, some thousands of barrels of oil were spilled when a Shell Trans Niger pipeline was attacked in a rebel ambush.

This pattern of little spills and bigger spills continues week after week. Some of the pipes carrying oil in that region are 40 years old. The oil companies in the Niger Delta are the familiar players.

Labeled the “world’s capital of oil pollution,” the Niger Delta supplies 40 percent of all crude oil imported by the United States.

Lives were lost in the Gulf oil spill, but life expectancy in the Niger Delta over the past two generations has dropped to 40 years, and the toxic effects of oil spills are said to be partly responsible. Safe drinking water is non-existent for most residents.

It seems that two sources of energy hold the greatest risk for devastating environmental and human disaster: oil (especially deep-water drilling) and nuclear power.

Jo Ann Myers



Right on our TV screens, we can see the consequences of America’s dependence on oil. The Deepwater Horizon oil disaster threatens to cripple the Gulf Coast’s fishing and tourism economy for years.

Meanwhile, we continue to spend a billion dollars a day to buy oil from abroad, contributing to a global oil market that enriches our enemies.

We need to solve this crisis. Recently, several senators, both Democrats and Republicans, unveiled comprehensive energy and climate proposals. You hear a lot about gridlock in Washington, but this is an important step forward.

And now the White House and Senate leadership need to combine the best ideas from these proposals and bring a strong clean energy and climate bill to a vote this year.

Every day the Senate fails to act is another day when millions of American jobs aren’t created, our country becomes less secure due to our overreliance on foreign oil, and our planet becomes more polluted because of harmful fossil fuels — while other countries leap ahead in this race for our clean-energy future.

It’s time for our leaders to finish what they started. We must move forward on clean energy and climate legislation today. This is not a partisan issue, but a call for reasoned action for sound economic, environmental and national security.

Greg Brown



We Americans have a long and proud history of pitching in and helping in all types of disasters and needs. Our fire departments extend mutual aid to help fight and cover the stations when a town has a large fire.

We set up, run and attend all kinds of benefits, suppers and auctions to raise money for those who suffer losses from fires, illnesses, accidents and injuries. We fill donation jars on store counters and run or walk in events to help fight serious diseases and work toward a cure.

We rush to provide money over and above our normal support to UNICEF, the Red Cross and other charitable organizations with the structure to effectively use our combined money to help alleviate suffering whenever and wherever the need is.

We not only put our money where our mouths are, we pitch in and work when we are needed. Examples abound — we Americans are generous and compassionate people. I heard someone state on TV that more than 50 percent of American households gave money or goods to Haitian earthquake relief. We do the right things without looking for rewards or glory.

This brings me to my question: Where are the other major oil companies? They certainly have more than enough financial resources, and I have to assume disaster equipment and staff as well.

If they are helping, I haven’t seen any indication of it. I’d love to be wrong — am I missing something?

Gail Trudeau



What is the oil industry doing to assist in the catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico? Have ExxonMobil or Citgo or others brought in tankers to pump in the spillage, or send their experts to assist BP, or are they so competitive that they are withholding help despite the ecological and economic tragedy facing our country?

Richard Bateman

North Waterboro


As has been made clear in the wake of the oil disaster in the Gulf, the oil interests that drain our checking accounts at the pump don’t give a rip about our quality of life. What’s worse, virtually none of that money is invested in our local economy.

We send literally hundreds of billions of dollars a year out of the country to pay for oil, much of which ends up in the treasuries of Middle Eastern countries.

We only need to look at the two Iraq wars to see what a disaster this situation has been for American foreign policy. It’s time we took charge of our energy future.

We recently had a “bike to work” day. There are a lot of benefits to biking. There’s the fun factor, the cool factor, the knowledge that you are reducing your impact on air quality and the environment. There’s the exercise built into your daily schedule.

And then there’s knowing that, with every pedal stroke, you’re sending less money to the oil companies and potentially more dollars to your local bakery, bookstore or restaurant. When we bike instead of drive, it’s an act of solidarity with our community and our neighbors.

But local lifestyle choices are not enough. Like never before, it is clear how much our oil dependence is costing all of America’s communities. Unfortunately, the silence from our leaders on this issue is deafening.

Sens. Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins, President Obama: What’s our move? Are we going to get off oil, or not?

Hilary Frenkel



Unfortunately, we do not learn from our lessons, or some sort of a plan would have been in place before the oil well explosion took both a human toll and an even more devastating toll on innocent wildlife.

It took the incident in Alaska with the Exxon Valdez to warrant supertankers now being constructed with multiple chambers versus one cavernous hull.

We are looking at an environmental disaster that will dwarf anything preceding it. We will see long-term damage that will never heal itself.

We need to act now and require a $10 billion “deposit” from any and all companies who currently have drilled for oil in any waters of the world to “insure” that the money is in place and ready to be used for such pathetic displays of carelessness. We know they have it, based upon their record profits from years past.

Isn’t it ironic that a nation of 310 million people in a world with 6.6 billion utilizes 25 percent of the world’s drilled oil and is now being “punished” with this record-setting catastrophe. Our need for oil pushes people to satisfy our appetite, and what Mother Nature giveth we taketh away.

As a once-popular comic strip character, Pogo, murmured, “We have met the enemy, and he is us.”

Scott Plummer

South Casco