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Friday, March 25, 2016: Garland deserves a vote in Senate, let states label GMOs, critical time for Maine solar

Garland deserves a vote in Senate

President Barack Obama has done his job and nominated an experienced, competent judge to replace Justice Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court. Now it is up to the Senate to do its job to advise and consent on Judge Merrick Garland’s nomination.

From what I have read, Garland’s credentials are equal to and maybe even better than some already on the Supreme Court. Obama was elected twice to his office by the American people, and he has every right and even obligation to make judicial appointments as long as he holds the office. His responsibilities are the same as previous Republican presidents, as Sen. Mitch McConnell well knows. Garland deserves a vote.

McConnell’s reaction to the president and his making this appointment is unseemly and provides another example why Republicans no longer seem to have the maturity to govern. Donald Trump has been behaving like a high school student, belonging to the class of 1955 in Alabama. McConnell and others in Congress have been acting even younger. For seven years, they have been bad losers, calling names, sulking, throwing tantrums, saying “no” and trashing every effort by Obama to serve the country.

It will be hard, like it is for all kids recovering from a “no I won’t” tantrum, but one can hope McConnell and his fellow senators will take a deep breath and do their homework.

Jim Owen


Let states label GMOs

Thanks to hundreds of calls, emails and personal visits to Sens. Susan Collins and Angus King, the Senate did not advance Monsanto’s dream bill. The Senate voted 49-48 to block a bill best described as the Denying Americans the Right to Know Act, or DARK, which would have prevented states from passing GMO labeling requirements and stopped pending state GMO labeling laws such as Vermont’s from going into effect.

Americans have grown increasingly assertive about their right to know what’s in their food. Poll after poll suggest the majority of Americans support GMO labeling, and today the public outcry from labeling supporters stopped Big Food’s anti-labeling effort. Three states — Vermont, Connecticut and Maine — have already passed laws requiring GMO labeling. The Vermont law goes into effect on July 1. The DARK Act would preempt state GMO labeling laws from going into effect, subverting the will of the people to know what’s in the food they eat and feed their families.

This is certainly a moment of celebration, but Monsanto, the Grocery Manufacturers Association and other biotech and big food companies will be working harder than ever to try to pass their bad bill before Vermont’s GMO labeling law goes into effect in July. That’s why we need to work even harder and keep the pressure on our senators to ensure our right to know what we’re eating and to stop this bill for good.

We applaud Collins and King and hope they continue to do what Mainers want by allowing the state to label GMOs.

Nisha Swinton

Food & Water Watch


Early childhood care strengthens national security

I agree with Penobscot County Sheriff Troy Morton and Bangor police Chief Mark Hathaway who wrote in a March 24 BDN OpEd that early childhood care and education should be a priority.

As a retired general and a member of national security nonprofit Mission: Readiness, I would like to point out that early childhood interventions also help to strengthen our nation’s security.

About 16 percent of high school students in Maine do not graduate on time, according to a 2013 Mission: Readiness report, and it is very difficult to join the military without a high school diploma. Among those who do graduate and try to enlist, 19 percent cannot pass the military’s entrance exam.

We must strengthen our students’ cognitive, social and emotional skills from an early age by prioritizing voluntary home visiting programs that mentor parents on the developmental and health needs of their children, and early learning programs such as the Preschool Development Grants, Early Head Start, Head Start and the state’s Public Preschool Program.

These programs will help prepare children to enter school ready to learn and make them more likely to graduate on time and with the necessary skills and knowledge to succeed in college, the civilian workforce or our nation’s military.

Brig. Gen. Stephen Atkinson

U.S. Air Force, retired


Critical time for Maine solar

Now is a critical time for the future of solar energy in Maine. Last week, I joined about 100 other Mainers to attend a public hearing and testified in support of a solar energy bill in Augusta, LD 1649. If passed, LD 1649 would create 800 new solar jobs in Maine over the next five years, spur Maine’s growing solar industry and protect existing solar customers.

I’m the co-owner of GrandyOats in Hiram, where we invested nearly $300,000 in our own solar panel array. It made business sense. I urge legislators in Augusta to pass LD 1649 because it makes business and economic sense.

Solar is an investment that helps lower electricity rates for everyone. I believe so strongly in solar, my business is 100 percent solar powered. You might wonder if this was an emotional decision to go solar. It absolutely was not. My business partner and our bank analyzed the numbers. It made economic sense, and, of course, it made environmental sense, too.

Today, Maine is in last place in the Northeast for installed solar panels and last in the creation of solar jobs. If you want to see Maine be a leader, then look at this century’s economy, not the past. This is a chance for Maine to lead, attract new investment and retain our young people.

This is a scary moment for our business. If the Legislature fails to pass LD 1649 and instead punts review to the Maine Public Utilities Commission, we risk losing our net metering and our Net Zero contract. That would have catastrophic impact on our business. It would mean we lost our investment in solar during the winter months and shoulder seasons. The utilities would take our solar output in the summer at no advantage to us.

I urge Hiram Rep. Nate Wadsworth and all members of the Energy Committee to support LD 1649.

Aaron Anker



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