There is a common sentiment shared among those who support Gov. LePage and his environment policies and appointees. Their claim is that Maine’s environmental policies are too strict and impede business here in Maine. This sentiment has become the scapegoat for Maine’s business struggles. Here is an example taken from a March 8 letter to the editor: “If the national environmental laws are good enough for the rest of America, then they are good enough for Maine. Anyone not happy with that position is free to leave.”

Statements and sentiments like this are unthoughtful at best. Maine’s true wealth is found in her environmental riches. That is why our state policies are stricter than the nation’s. That is why tourists from all over the country come here. Environmental deregulation will negatively affect Maine businesses. Not the other way around.

There is a transition happening in business in America. This transition involves a shift in value, where more value is placed upon the resource and less upon the commerce which exploits it. Those (corporate entities) who have historically exploited the world’s resources understand this, and Mainers should too.

We have a lot to protect in Maine. Our clean water, our timber industry, our fisheries, etc. — these resources are all targets for corporations whose only interest is the bottom line. We need strict environmental policies to protect Maine’s true wealth.

Ask a farmer in the Midwest how national policies have protected the Ogallala Aquifer. Ask a fisherman in the Gulf of Mexico how national policies have protected his livelihood. Ask anyone across the country who lives near a natural gas mine how their drinking water tastes. I bet you will find that any of these people will tell you they wished their state had had the foresight to enact stricter environmental policies.

William Hilton

It is hard to even imagine in our environmentally conscious state that any of our elected leaders and legislators would consider proposing legislation that could destroy any advances made throughout the years towards improving and safekeeping our environment.

However, it is happening right now. Currently there are at least 50 proposals from the state representatives that will negatively affect our environment and the way we live. Five of these proposals suggest elimination or reduction of Maine’s current Returnable Beverage Container Law, the so-called Bottle Bill.

Maine’s Bottle Bill has been successfully in place for 35 years and has proven to help Maine remain a cleaner, environmentally responsible state. Due to the current Bottle Bill, 90 percent of all beverage containers sold in our state get recycled. This reduces the impact to our landfills and transfer stations in every municipality. Redemption centers are responsible for processing, handling and storage of the beverage containers, versus the municipality itself having to deal with it at local transfer and landfill facilities.

The major reason these legislative proposals are on the table in Augusta has nothing to do with what we the people of Maine might want but has everything to do with what the Maine Beverage Association (the distributors) want. They wish not to deal with recycling anymore, claiming it’s too costly for them. Instead, they wish to pass the cost of being environmentally responsible for what they bring in and sell in our state back onto us.

There is always a certain responsibility and “cost of doing business” involved with any business enterprise and certainly the beverage industry has the means to absorb the costs of helping our environment. We all do it on a daily basis in our own lives.

Paul F. Coburn
Old Mill Redemption Center, Kingfield 

Academic Decathlon team deserves more attention

The Portland Press Herald devotes precious news space to celebrating Maine’s first Playboy centerfold, documenting the backbiting comments of “Survivor” contestants and highlighting the shallowness of someone who expects to choose her life mate on national television and then relegates the truly laudable success of the Scarborough Academic Decathlon team to a blurb in Dispatches (March 7). Do you believe your readers’ priorities and interests are really so skewed that coverage of television programs takes precedence over significant achievement?

Scarborough’s Decathlon team has won the state title 21 years out of 25. It is headed again this year, as it has for the previous six, to the national meet. Team members are self-motivated, study on their own time and are supportive of each other. The team is also academically diverse: The U.S. Academic Decathlon program requires the inclusion of three levels of academic achievement: A, B and C students.

I ask the editors to please give attention where it’s well deserved. And I ask readers who agree and support this success, no matter where you live, to help Maine’s team attend the national competition in North Carolina.

Contributions can be sent to SHS Academic Decathlon Team, Scarborough High School, 11 Municipal Drive, Scarborough, ME 04074.

My only connection to these students is my pride in their hard work. Thank you to coaches Shane Davis and Jon York for sustaining a fine legacy established by former coach Ellen Ross.

Susan DeWitt Wilder

Joblessness driving unrest in Middle East countries

Many may ponder what is causing the dangerous unrest in Middle East countries. It may seem confusing.

However, there is a commonality to each country experiencing these events. The simple explanation is too many people for too few jobs. The proof of this statement is that in each instance, it is mostly young people who have little or no chance to obtain a decent job. Most are either unemployed or underemployed. Each country has this situation present.

Middle East countries have very limited sustaining natural resources. Only an abundance of oil has temporarily avoided their collapse. All are short on water, and all arable land is already controlled by others.

Young people have only two choices in such situations. Migrate to other countries that do have jobs available or protest, sometimes violently against their leaders, who presumably do have wealth that would sustain the jobless.

So in these countries, it is not the issue of the type of government, democratic or dictatorship. Nor is it lousy leadership, even though it is often the case. Rather, it is the simple math of too many people for too few jobs. Until population increases are stabilized, this process will only grow worse. And it is occurring throughout most of the world.

Imagine in our own country, the consequences of having no unemployment compensation for our millions of unemployed. Would we act any different?

Steve Clark


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