LETTERS

Tuesday, Dec. 17, 2013: Wreaths Across America, carbon dioxide emissions and religious freedom

Posted Dec. 16, 2013, at 11:32 a.m.

Missed the boat

The BDN really dropped the ball, missed the boat, or whatever one wants to call it on this one.

The true nature of the Wreaths Across America event and the spirit in it and most of the people behind it were all missed in the news article on it. It was almost like a “ho-hum, don’t bother me” story. This event was huge. It involved thousands of people. It actually will span most of the U.S. when it’s done for this year.

Anybody with a computer could go to their website at wreathsacrossamerica.org and glean oodles of information and facts.

Anyone who had the opportunity to witness the caravan and then read this article later would wonder if the article and the caravan were the same things. I counted almost 30 tractor-trailers carrying thousands of wreaths; about 100 vehicles of all descriptions, one from Old Orchard Beach and one from Eastport, for example; and the caravan was more than two miles long.

My daughter, from New Hampshire, was visiting me, and we decided we had to see this. I told my 105-year-old mother about it, and she wanted to see it, too. We drove from Bangor to Bucksport and parked across the causeway, by a family restaurant on Verona Island. Shortly, this huge caravan drove into sight, and what a sight it was.

None of us had seen anything like it. After it passed by, we went into the family restaurant and had a very nice lunch, returned to Bangor and spent most of the rest of the day talking about it.

Bud Hand

Bangor

Tackle climate

Coal and oil-fired plants here in the U.S. put more than 2 billion tons of carbon dioxide and other toxic pollutants into the air every year. That’s nearly 40 percent of the United States’ annual carbon emissions. With carbon dioxide levels at 400 parts per million, the highest in tens of thousands of years, climate change is already leading to more frequent and devastating storms, droughts, floods, typhoons and hurricanes. Here in Maine, climate change is already shortening the winter ski and ice fishing seasons, shortening maple sugaring season, and harming our shellfish and shrimping industries.

There’s no question that our climate is changing, and the time for action on it is now. We need our Maine Congress folk to support action to stop it. Along with steps here in Maine, we can and should also take steps to address the problem by curbing industrial carbon pollution from power plants in the rust belt of the county.

The Environmental Protection Agency recently introduced a new standard that puts stricter limits on carbon pollution from newly constructed power plants. These common-sense carbon dioxide standards will decrease the carbon pollution that exacerbates climate change, which in turn will help protect the health of our kids and families. A carbon pollution standard for new power plants is a good step, followed by setting strong standards for existing plants as the next part of the solution.

I sincerely urge U.S. Sens. Susan Collins and Angus King of Maine to support the EPA’s efforts to tackle climate change.

Dotty Caldwell

Penobscot

Wolf in sheep’s clothing

One proposed law is a poorly disguised effort to dismantle Maine’s nondiscrimination laws. The law seeks to “allow a person whose right to exercise the person’s religion is burdened by a government law or exercise of authority to bring an action in court seeking equitable or monetary damages unless the government remedies the burden.” This proposal would allow people to use their religious beliefs as an excuse to ignore anti-discrimination laws that require an individual or entity to treat all persons fairly regardless of race, religion, sex or sexual orientation.

This law places one person’s religious freedom above another person’s individual rights. Similar laws in Florida, for example, emboldened an employer who believed pregnancy outside of marriage is a sin to fire an unmarried pregnant employee ( Hamilton v. Southland Christian School).

This bill could dramatically increase the number of lawsuits against state and local governments and cause them to incur large legal costs. This is not who we are. Mainers are forward-thinking individualists who value personal rights and freedom of expression.

Our constitution and human-rights protections already protect religious freedom. The Maine Human Rights Protection Act guarantees nondiscrimination regardless of race, religion, sex or sexual orientation. This proposal rewrites the act and allows religion to override race, sex or sexual orientation. It will encourage lawsuits and end up costing the state money.

Don’t let this wolf into our state.

Heidi Henninger

Yarmouth

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