Brad Wolverton’s May 29 letter, titled “Speed vs. mileage: Take your pick,” was interesting but, unfortunately, omitted any mention of the environmental impact of reduced vehicle efficiency at higher speeds.

Fuel efficiency is indeed reduced by 15 percent or more for every 10 mph above 50 mph or 60 mph. Because we know that each gallon of gas consumed produces about 20 pounds of carbon dioxide, one can calculate the “carbon footprint” associated with faster driving.

Each year there are more than a billion “vehicle miles” driven on the Maine Turnpike, equating to tens of millions of gallons of gasoline and diesel fuel consumed, in turn creating hundreds of millions of pounds of carbon dioxide.

The cumulative impact of many people driving at speeds of 70 or 80 mph is enormous, because the “extra” fuel consumed at those speeds generates a huge amount of “extra” carbon dioxide. It is bad enough that normal driving by Americans contributes so significantly to global warming, given our penchant for large cars, trucks and SUVs.

It is even more tragic that the problem is exacerbated by so many people driving at speeds above the posted limit. Even individuals who drive vehicles that achieve good mileage are sabotaging some of that benefit by driving at speeds well over those that provide maximum engine efficiency. It is tempting to say that most American drivers are selfish, but the truth is probably that they are simply mindless — they give no thought to the consequences of their highway speed.

Mr. Wolverton may consider his time priceless, but I would suggest that it would be more accurate to say that our planet is priceless, and that our mindless choices about vehicles and how we drive them leave a terrible legacy for our children.

Joe Hardy


Nemitz does good job with ‘safety net’ perils

I hope many, especially our legislators, read Bill Nemitz’s May 27 column (“Pay for the safety net now — or the fallout later”).

His heartfelt portrayals of the plights of the less fortunate highlighted the devastating personal, political, and financial costs of the proposed cuts to MaineCare and related programs. Mr. Nemitz once again showed his uncanny ability to simultaneously fulfill all three of a writer’s purposes — to entertain, to inform, and to persuade. (His columns paint captivating, intimate portraits of the successes and struggles of real people; they quietly provide pertinent information; and they present compelling blueprints for how to make the world a better place.)

These were the three spotlights he cast this time: one on those with the greatest risk, a second at the increasing costs we all will bear if the pressing needs are ignored, and a third on the solution. Let’s hope that our representatives in positions of power don’t shut their eyes.

Michael Berkowitz


Not all businesses back new governor’s priorities

Regarding the May 27 article on Gov. LePage’s veto of the “one size fits all” insurance company charges, some clarification is necessary.

Prudent businesses know no particular political allegiance. The notion that Republicans support business and Democrats are out to destroy it is utter nonsense. Business is business.

A large segment of the business community is beginning to question Gov. LePage’s vision: It’s myopic and he knows it. The proof is his own realization that “I got kicked in the knees and knocked down by the very people we’re trying to help, the business community.”

There is a very good reason for that. The so-called “business community” is not a vast sea of robots marching to the governor’s tune. Business owners are diverse in their knowledge, management skills and goals.

The best of them aren’t seduced by simplistic slogans like “business friendly.” They don’t buy into a slick sales pitch. They look behind the words and analyze the facts as they know them.

“Right to work” (as he calls it) was one example. Another is L.D. 1222, which Gov. LePage recently vetoed in spite of its having been passed by unanimous votes of both houses.

This law would have prohibited so-called “most-favored nation” clauses in agreements between health care providers and insurance companies.

Such provisions, in small markets like Maine, actually act to sustain higher costs and eliminate competition. They operate as price-fixing agreements.

Our Legislature, after careful examination and compelling testimony, realized that and voted for it. Yet the governor persists in his insistence that it’s his way or the highway.

Many of us understand business dynamics better than the governor.

We’re not traitors, we just don’t buy what he’s selling.

Cris Edward Johnson


Federal bill pending to regulate chemical use

I am writing as a mother of three children who cares deeply about the beautiful Maine environment and our health. Our state legislators have been working hard to reach a bipartisan agreement that would protect the Kid-Safe Products Act from attempts to gut it.

This is the law that set up a process in Maine to phase out dangerous chemicals in everyday products. I am thankful that our legislators have acted in such a common-sense way to protect the health of our kids.

However, at the federal level there is a big problem. The federal law that was supposed to protect us from toxic chemicals used in products doesn’t work! This law, the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) was passed in 1976 — and has never been updated! From the start, TSCA grandfathered in 60,000 chemicals and presumed them safe.

There are now about 80,000 chemicals that are used in products like furniture, appliances, even toys — which have never been tested for safety. Scientists are finding that more and more of these chemicals are showing up in our bodies, and some have been linked to serious health problems, like cancer, heart disease and diabetes.

Children are particularly vulnerable to such chemical exposures from everyday household items.

For our children’s sake, I’m hoping that Sens. Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins will co-sponsor an important bill that was introduced by Sen. Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey, the Safe Chemicals Act of 2011 (S. 847).

The Safe Chemicals Act will finally improve the federal law that should protect us all, identifying the worst chemicals, putting the burden of proof of safety onto the industries that use these chemicals, and promoting a sustainable, green economy by encouraging safer alternatives.

Anne Ball