Wednesday, July 2, 2014: Carbon rules, truck driver fatigue, Clifton wind

Posted July 01, 2014, at 12:22 p.m.

Optimistic vision

I love Emily Figdor’s optimistic vision about climate change and our clean future. I agree we will tackle this problem, in the nick of time. And I agree the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposal is significant for including carbon dioxide as a pollutant. But the method could be so much more elegant: a revenue-neutral carbon tax.

The EPA regulations would reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 30 percent from 2005 levels by the year 2030. But, as Figdor notes, we’ve already improved since then. A steadily rising carbon tax would decrease emissions by 30 percent from 1990 levels, and do it by 2025, according to a study by Regional Economic Models Inc. It would not only place a fee on power plants but on all carbon dioxide emitters, at the most upstream point. It is a more comprehensive solution and yet requires less government intervention. A carbon tax will efficiently grow the economy; it’s a market-based solution. It will satisfy legislators on both sides of the aisle.

Maine, the northeast, and the whole nation would benefit best if Sen. Susan Collins spoke to her Republican colleagues and convinced them of the market value of a carbon tax.

Tamara Kellogg

Cambridge, Mass.

Wind freedom

The June 26 BDN OpEd, “The freedom to use our land for wind turbines,” begs a few comments.

First, no one would deny the use of one’s property for an activity that would not impinge on the rights, values or uses of their neighbor’s property. However, wind developments always infringe on others’ property rights because of the size of the turbines (can be seen for miles), the creation of ultra-low and low-frequency noise that affects both humans and wildlife, and the loss of value of surrounding properties. The proposed Pisgah Mountain wind development in Clifton will be no different.

So, in effect, a wind development takes rights away from property owners by making their property unenjoyable or unusable for many purposes — sort of like the concept of eminent domain, except there is no just compensation for the affected landowners.

Even George W. Bush disagreed with the concept of eminent domain when his attorney general wrote an executive order on Sept. 16, 2008, ( Executive Order 13406) that the federal government must limit its taking of private property for the “purpose of benefiting the general public” and that eminent domain may not be used to “advance the interests” of private parties.

Fuller’s comment, “we as a society have to make decisions for the good of the ‘whole’ that sometimes inconveniences the ‘few’ probably would not have been made if Fuller were one of the “few.”

Jessica Gray

Clifton

Driver fatigue

The issue of truck driver fatigue gained media attention after the tragic truck crash that killed one man and critically injured several others, including actor Tracy Morgan. As a mother who lost her son in a preventable truck crash caused by a fatigued driver, I want to speak out about the importance of protecting our motorists from tired truckers.

Twenty years ago, my husband Steve and I founded Parents Against Tired Truckers after a truck driver fell asleep at the wheel of his 80,000 pound rig, killing four teenagers, including our son Jeff, and permanently injuring one more.

Each year, on average, 4,000 people are killed and 100,000 more are injured in truck crashes. The current hours of service rule was set in place to help prevent families from having to sustain the intolerably-high number of yearly fatalities and injuries.

Recently, the hours of service rule, particularly its 34-hour restart provision, has been under attack. Sen. Susan Collins has an amendment in the Senate that suspends the current safety limits on the 34-hour rest period, which increases truck driver work hours from its current average of 70 hours a week to more than 80 hours a week. This is equivalent to adding an additional work day.

One argument used against the current restart provision is that it places too many drivers on the road during the morning rush hour. However, the 34-hour restart does not prohibit nighttime drivers from continuing to drive at night. The current rule does not place restrictions on when a truck driver must drive or rest unless the driver exceeds the maximum weekly on-duty driving limits of 60 or 70 hours. In fact, the current rule poses no restriction on when the driver must take a break or when that driver must go back on the road after the break. That decision is completely up to the driver.

Daphne Izer

Lisbon

Pipeline history

This letter is in response to Paul Fuller’s June 26 OpEd, “The freedom to use our land for wind turbines.” When we opposed the Maritimes and Northeast Pipeline project, our opposition was due to the proposed route to our land in Eddington, not Clifton. The proposed route would have divided our 65 acres of land on which our house is situated approximately 1,000 feet north and 1,000 feet west of our house.

There was no opposition in Clifton, although we had many Clifton friends and family members who also care about the land who supported and encouraged us along the way. In the end we had no influence in the final route of the project. The Natural Resources Council of Maine saw the wisdom of following existing rights of way (i.e. the Stud Mill Road, existing power lines, etc.).

If anyone feels we really had any influence on getting this route changed we feel humbled.

As to the taxes Eddington receives from Maritimes & Northeast Pipeline, Clifton’s mil rate is still lower than Eddington’s despite Eddington’s “tax revenue” this pipeline project generates.

Perhaps Fuller does not understand small town finances. Taking $22,000 from the unappropriated surplus fund is what all towns do to keep taxes lower. A quick look at Clifton’s 2013-14 annual report — Article 26 — will show an expense for which Pisgah Mountain LLC is 100 percent responsible.

Tim and Diana Higgins

Eddington

 

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