Friday, Jan. 10, 2014: Medicaid expansion, Bowers Mountain, arming rangers

Posted Jan. 09, 2014, at 11:13 a.m.

Right thing to do

It is in Maine’s economic and humanitarian interest for the Legislature to accept additional federal funding for Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. In Penobscot County alone, acceptance of these funds would make health care coverage available to an additional 8,447 people, many of whom are working but don’t make enough to qualify for health care exchanges.

Related economic benefits to Penobscot County are an estimated additional $45 million to be spent in the local health care industry annually, with concomitant increases in overall economic activity throughout the county. In Penobscot County, one in every five jobs are health care related, and it is estimated that more than 500 new jobs will be created between 2014 and 2016 if additional federal Medicaid funds provided by the ACA are accepted by the state.

Throughout the county, affordable health care is critically needed by people whose earned wages are not adequate to provide for coverage. In Maine, we care for one another, and providing health care for our neighbors is surely the right thing to do.

Carol Ippoliti

Charleston

Not stalling on Bowers

In response to the Jan. 7 letter by Scott Cuddy of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers , the state is not stalling the Bowers Mountain wind project. The project had already been denied by the Land Use Regulation Commission, now the Land Use Planning Commission, in April 2012.

Champlain Wind LLC (First Wind) subsequently submitted a slightly revised application to the Department of Environmental Protection when land use decisions in the unorganized territories moved over to the DEP. The DEP denied a permit to construct a wind farm on Bowers Mountain in August 2013.

Cuddy may be referring to the fact that First Wind subsequently appealed the DEP’s August 2013 decision to the Board of Environmental Protection, a seven-member citizen board created by the Legislature to provide independent interpretation of the laws relating to environmental protection, and the appeal has yet to be decided.

In the end, LURC, DEP and BEP must make decisions based on Maine law. LURC and DEP both found that the Bowers project would have “an unreasonable adverse effect on the scenic character and existing uses related to scenic character” (2008 Wind Energy Act) in an area that includes eight lakes deemed scenic resources of state or national significance within eight miles of the project site.

A very special Maine environment, the Downeast Lakes region, was protected from adverse visual effects of 460-foot tall wind turbines that would have forever changed the character of a wilderness-like area, and the businesses that depend on this area for ecotourism.

Paula Moore

Orono

Arm rangers

This past weekend’s article on the arming of forest rangers answered the question of what a forest ranger does. The second paragraph stated that a forest ranger is a law enforcement officer. Any person with a job description of being a law enforcement officer should be armed — not only for personal protection but for the protection of the general public that he or she is serving.

Anyone responding to assist or back up calls of domestic violence, robberies, disturbances or any other enforcement situation needs to be able to defend himself. It is not unusual in the vast regions of this state that a forest ranger may be the closest law enforcement officer to a situation where a weapon is needed. If the forest ranger is not armed, he is effectively useless without the proper means to control or defend the situation.

Yes, it is expensive to arm and train a person, but it is careless to ask an individual to respond to a situation where one’s life may be in danger and have no means to defend himself or the public. Make the right decision by arming our forest rangers.

Jeff Weatherbee

Dover-Foxcroft

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