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Friday, June 1, 2012: Gas prices, veterans and bald eagles

Gas prices

The recent news about slightly lower gas prices in Maine is surely welcome news to Maine families as they prepare to take summer road trips. But the small and likely temporary savings at the pump are nothing compared to the $585 that Maine families would save if President Obama’s proposal for a 54.5-miles-per-gallon fuel economy standard for cars and light trucks by 2025 were in place this summer.

More efficient cars can help Maine families enjoy vacations to beautiful places such as Acadia National Park without creating as much of the pollution that threatens those very places. A new report by Environment Maine finds that Mainers would enjoy significant economic and environmental benefits if the 54.5-mpg standard was in place this summer. Maine could save more than $326 million at the pump this summer — $585 per family — reduce our oil use by 82.6 million gallons and cut more than 725,000 metric tons of carbon pollution.

Real relief at the pump and for our environment will not come until we get off oil. Environment Maine’s findings demonstrate the positive effect tougher standards can have in just one summer. These proposed standards represent the single largest step our country has ever taken toward curtailing our dependence on oil, and Obama deserves recognition for moving these new standards forward.

Sophie Yang


Conflict of interest

There is something everyone in this small community should know about our RSU 50 school board that was recently brought to my attention. First of all, two cousins serving on the board from the same town does not sound quite right to me. Second, a third member of the school board rents his place of business from the family of the two cousins, and one of the cousins works for a fourth member of the school board. As a former board member, I smell some possible conflicts of interest here. How about you?

Come on people, speak up and show your support for one of the best coaches and athletic directors Southern Aroostook Community School has ever had, before it’s too late and a few people succeed in ruining Murray Putnam’s reputation and career.

Dan McNally


American insult

In the Friday (May 25) edition, a story concerning an American who was held hostage in the American Embassy in Iran for 444 days reveals that a bill has been introduced in the House of Representatives (HR5796) which would authorize payments to those former hostages in the amount of $10,000 a day of confinement plus $5,000 per day to their children.

A Somesville man, Mr. Moorhead Kennedy, who was among the hostages, voices support for this bill which would result in a payment of $15.4 million to him and to his family, including the estate of his deceased wife.

I will confine my expression of deepest disgust to the bill itself, which violates the agreement between the U.S. and Iran that no such compensation would be asked or permitted. My question to Mr. Kennedy is simply: Do you feel it’s right to support self-enrichment for your detainment in an embassy building while the veterans of Korea and Vietnam who endured the atrocities of filthy POW camps received nothing but some ribbons, medals and the “thanks of a grateful nation” once or twice a year? Mr. Kennedy says he suffered from PTSD for a “few years” after his release but that he’s “fine now.” This bill is the gravest insult to the memory of hundreds of thousands of Americans who made the supreme sacrifice, and is not worthy of a moment’s consideration by Congress.

Hal Wheeler


Memorial tributes

This past Memorial Day weekend, I was touched by all the commemorative activities that I attended around Waldo County. I began this long weekend planting a flag and flowers on the graves of my grandfather who served in World War I (and died soon thereafter due to mustard gas poisoning of the lungs of, ironically, this bugler); my dad, who heeded his widowed mother’s approval for his leaving his mom and 3 younger sisters behind to serve in World War II; and my cousin, who served before losing his life aboard one of the 9/11 planes that crashed into the World Trade Center that awful day.

At this Memorial Day’s activities throughout the county, I joined with many to commemorate the sacrifices made by so many members of all of our families in wars fought to preserve our freedoms. To the residents of Waldo County who volunteered their time this past weekend to organize these Memorial Day tributes, thank you for providing all of us with meaningful opportunities to remember and honor those who have served.

Susan Longley


Memorial Day disappointment

Mount Hope Cemetery was a huge disappointment this Memorial Day. We went there Monday to water the flowers and make sure there was a flag for our family veteran. Nothing, no flag and no flag holder (which was removed last fall). We were told there would be new holders this year. We saw a box on the steps of the office on our way out with a sign to take a flag if you need one. So we did take a flag and went back to the lot and placed it at the headstone. Is the cemetery cutting corners on our veterans? I cannot come up with any reason why this should have happened. It is not as if there wasn’t ample time to prepare for Memorial Day. I hope this is remedied soon and all the veterans get their flags.

Esther Trask


Bald eagles

Regarding “Bald eagles thriving in Maine but health still studied” by Kevin Miller ( May 27 BDN), one concern to the health of bald eagles not mentioned in the article is that of lead poisoning as a cause of illness and death in eagle populations.

At one Maine facility I checked, three bald eagles have died this winter from lead toxicity, an increase in lead related deaths there. In 2005-06 at the University of Minnesota’s Raptor Center, 21-25 percent of sick and injured eagles were found to have toxic levels of lead in their blood.

One of the probable sources of lead in the environment is bullets and shotgun pellets used by sportsmen. The use of nontoxic ammunition, not leaving dead animals killed with lead bullets in the fields and not dumping animals killed with lead on coyote bait piles will go a long way in protecting the health of bald eagles and other scavengers in Maine.

Bob Brooks


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