In response to the Rev. Edward Dufresne’s March 14 opinion piece, I write to remind readers that we, the people from away, are the invaders, and it is not our place to challenge others’ livelihood.
My husband and I moved here onto the shores of the Bagaduce River nine years ago. We came not just for the sheer beauty of the place, which no one can dispute. We were drawn by an easier, friendlier way of life. We hold a deep respect for the people who have called this place home for generations. We value their work ethic. Like them, we make our living here. We like to think we’ve been accepted by the local community.
We worked closely with our neighbors on their first application for their oyster farm and know firsthand the process is a painstaking one, not the quick filing the reverend suggests.
The detailed Department of Marine Resources investigation included plotting the river floor. Nothing was approved sight unseen. We attended the public hearings, which included a department representative. There, our neighbors politely responded to the often insulting NIMBY concerns of some irate riparian landowners.
There was nothing easy about the approval our neighbors eventually received. They have built a successful business, which also provides local jobs and contributes to the community. Others who might wish to establish similar businesses will eventually have to go through the same process.
The Bagaduce is a working river and historically always has been. It is not simply a backdrop for retirement.
Time to flip-flop
As Sen. Susan Collins knows, the Portland pipeline carries oil from Portland to Montreal and connects with Canada’s oil pipeline that runs all the way up to the tar sands oil fields in Alberta. And, as she is also aware, Canada’s National Energy Board just approved the reversal of Line 9B, the portion of the pipeline that runs from North Westover, Ontario, down to Montreal.
The writing is on the wall. Soon, Big Oil may want to complete the pipeline reversal and begin transporting tar sands — gritty, heavy, diluted bitumen across Canada and down through Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine to be loaded onto tankers in Casco Bay.
Voters are asking Collins to stand with the rest of Maine’s congressional delegation and demand a full environmental risk assessment. Maine cannot afford a disastrous spill like the one that dumped nearly a million gallons of tar sands crude into the Kalamazoo River in 2010.
We understand that this presents an awkward dilemma. Many Maine voters may not be aware that in 2013 Collins signed a letter with 52 other senators urging President Barack Obama to approve the Keystone Pipeline that would carry this toxic sludge through the middle of the United States to refineries in the Gulf Coast.
There is no shame in Collins changing her mind. She should declare her independence from Big Oil money! She can just say that she voted for transporting tar sands through America’s heartland before she voted against transporting tar sands through Maine.
Hostility and threats
A few weeks ago, the U.S. House of Representatives passed by nearly unanimous vote a resolution purporting to “support the people of Venezuela as they protest peacefully for democracy.” Last week, the U.S. Senate passed “by unanimous consent” a resolution condemning Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro and calling for sanctions. What’s wrong with this?
Both resolutions presuppose that Venezuelans are struggling to achieve democracy. In fact, the current Maduro government is the result of democratic elections that are, according to Jimmy Carter, “ the best in the world.” The Carter Center has been monitoring elections in Venezuela since the late 1990s.
Both resolutions suggest that the Venezuelan government should open dialogue with the political opposition. President Maduro organized a peace conference attended by representatives from every sector of the country, save the opposition. He is currently reaching out to the United States for expanded dialogue.
The Senate resolution urges an intervention by the Organization of American States, a suggestion that to date has been rejected by the OAS membership. While there has been violence on both sides, disturbances, in truth, have occurred in 18 of the country’s 335 municipalities. The rest of the country does not support violence.
How can the U.S. really help? By respecting Venezuela’s sovereignty. By acknowledging the legitimacy of its democratically elected government. By ceasing to fund the violent right and ceasing the irresponsible spread of inflammatory media attacks. Our government should have more to offer than hostility and threats.
King on climate
Recently, nearly one-third of all United States senators took to the floor of the Senate in an all-night session dedicated to raising awareness of the immediate and dangerous threats of climate change to our environment, economy and way of life. I am proud that Maine Sen. Angus King participated, and I thank him for being a true champion for Maine, and the country, for legislative action on climate change.
Climate change is a direct threat to Maine’s environment, economy and way of life. As average temperatures get higher and higher, Maine could receive less and less snow, threatening skiing, snowmobiling, ice fishing and other winter traditions. Maple syrup production will creep further north. Ticks will become more pervasive, threatening our moose and deer populations.
On his website, King states, “Maine fishermen, farmers and foresters are starting to feel the impacts of a changing environment, and I am committed to working with them to help solve this issue.”
I hope that King will continue his climate leadership by strongly supporting the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed carbon dioxide emission standards for power plants. Coal-fired power plants are responsible for nearly 40 percent of U.S. carbon emission annually. These emissions drive climate change and pollute our air.
It’s time to enact common sense carbon emissions limits from their smokestacks. I hope King will continue his climate leadership by supporting these power plant rules.