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Thursday, June 27, 2013: Trucks, Vaseline and crude oil

Trucking facts

A June 21 letter by Daphne Izer was critical of federal law that now allows the heaviest trucks to travel on Maine’s federal interstates. As the author of the law, Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, certainly appreciates the writer’s concerns, but I’d like to correct the author’s facts.

The law that Collins wrote did not increase the size or weight of trucks on the road. Maine law already allowed trucks up to 100,000 pounds to operate on state and municipal roads. Heavy trucks already operated on some 22,500 miles of non-interstate roads in Maine, in addition to the approximately 167 miles of the Maine Turnpike. But the nearly 260 miles of non-Turnpike interstates, like I-95 and I-395, were capped at 80,000 pounds.

Unlike our downtown streets and country roads, our federal interstates are designed and built to handle heavy trucks. Therefore, removing them from state and local roads as much as possible actually helps to reduce overall infrastructure costs.

It also improves safety. Today, a truck traveling from Hampden to Houlton that is now allowed to drive on I-95 rather than on Route 2 avoids 300 intersections, 86 crosswalks, 30 traffic lights, nine school crossings and four railroad crossings.

That is why Collins’ effort was endorsed by many people and groups in our state, including the Maine Association of Police, Maine Chiefs of Police, Maine Department of Public Safety, Maine Department of Transportation and the Bangor School Department.

Kevin Kelley, communications director for Sen. Susan Collins

Washington, D.C.


Governor Vaseline

From today until the end of my life, Gov. Paul LePage will now, and forever be, associated with petroleum jelly. Truly, the Vaseline Governor.

Michael Grunko

Chebeague Island


Inaccurate reference

I strongly object to Chris Busby’s June 21 dismissive references to the late Maine writer John Preston as an “obscure gay author” who wrote “dirty books.”

A journalist and essayist, Preston was a major figure in early gay activism who helped create the first gay community center in the U.S. He helped found the AIDS program of southern Maine. His erotic writings had literary merit, and he was honored by the American Library Association.

By moving to Portland, Preston raised its profile as a place for writers. The dirty books sneer is laughably inaccurate. I am sorry that Preston himself cannot respond to Busby’s comments.

Peg Cruikshank



Shame, shame, shame

Enough already. I thought Washington was broken, but I really need look no further than Augusta. The governor once again has his foot in his mouth all the way to the knee.

To make matters worse, the administration distributed and referred to a 2011 Senate debate that used similar language with reference to Vaseline. Shame on both of them. Since when do two wrongs make a right?

Our elected officials should make us proud, not embarrassed by their lack of decorum. They have a responsibility to all the voters in Maine. If our representatives cannot make us proud, they at least shouldn’t make us disgusted by their behavior.

They have a responsibility to work together, disagree definitely, but keep a civil tongue and resolve the issues facing Maine and its people. They need to remember they represent all of Maine. I want people of whom I can be proud, and so does the rest of the state.

We the people of Maine need to take a good hard look at our state government and decide the type of individuals who will be elected. Enough of the left and right. For the sake of our state, we need individuals who will work together and compromise to make Maine better, not hold it in gridlock. An added benefit would be individuals who are able to speak appropriately, given their position.

Susan Jellison



Bakken crude

Pan Am Railways and The Montreal, Maine and Atlantic Railway is transporting Bakken crude oil from North Dakota through Maine to the Irving refinery in Canada.

I’m furious that the oil industry is risking the safety and future of our children.

Bakken crude isn’t just any oil. It’s a toxic kerogen-sludge, extraordinarily difficult to clean up and loaded with toxic chemicals. Kerogen, an organic component within shale rock, miles inside the earth, is extracted by pumping a secret stew of water and chemicals into a well, which is pressurized and heated until the sedimentary rock fractures.

There’s no evidence to show that this extraction method is safe, and despite numerous reports of contaminated water, air, and land, the industry denies responsibility, claiming that the grievances are mere coincidence. Bakken crude also produces up to 73 percent more greenhouse gases than conventional oil, according to Western Resource Advocates.

Big oil and the railways are gambling with the well-being of our waterways, farms and wildlife. I don’t want this dirty crude in our state, and I find it offensive that these railways are transporting it behind our backs.

Being that climate change is settled science, I refuse to teach the children that money is more important than the Earth. Releasing excessive amounts of carbon into the air is barbaric and dangerous. Accidentally spilling it will only amplify the problem.

Future generations deserve a clean and livable world. I suggest we end the smuggling of hazardous crude through our state.

Rev. Jason Linneken



There you go again

“There you go again,” the famous sentence used in 1980 by Ronald Reagan during a presidential debate against Democratic challenger Jimmy Carter, could apply to our governor.

His Vaseline comment on June 20 is just another example of the governor’s condescending attitude toward the folks elected by the people of Maine to represent them in Augusta. This governor has demonstrated again and again his lack of leadership and lack of ability to get important legislation passed.

I partly blame Maine’s election process for this stalemate. Gov. Paul LePage was elected with a mere 38 percent of the vote. Clearly, his narrow agenda did not resonate with the majority of Maine voters.

I propose that the law be changed to require that any candidate for state office must receive a majority of the votes cast to be elected. If no candidate receives a majority on voting day, then a special run-off election should be held between the candidates receiving the most votes. This way, we can ensure that the winner was approved by the majority of Maine voters.

I hope this process will result in future governors who are more attuned to the needs and desires of the state of Maine and who can work productively with the Maine Legislature for the benefit of Maine people.

Steve Colburn


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