May 22, 2018
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Saturday, May 20, 2017: Rep. Poliquin’s health care vote, mining risk too high, oppose right-to-work bill

Poliquin support for AHCA no surprise

After weeks of not commenting, avoiding reporters by hiding in the restroom, and dodging meeting with constituents, Rep. Bruce Poliquin has finally come out in favor of the American Health Care Act.

None of this is a surprise. Anyone watching his re-election campaign and his debates with Emily Cain last fall knows Poliquin didn’t want anyone to know where he stood on national issues, Maine ballot issues or then-candidate Donald Trump because “I don’t want to tell anyone how to vote.” As cowardly as that strategy was, it was at least moderately effective. Now, after exhausting all other options, he’s finally voted. He’s on record as having voted for a bill that enjoys support from 17 percent of the country, and as a representative of the party of personal responsibility he owns that choice.

He has claimed in interviews he’s heard from the people he represents that they are worried about coverage for people with pre-existing conditions. He’s taken that to heart by voting for a bill that shortchanges them. He’s worried about people who have escalating premiums, so he’s helping advance a bill that will raise their premiums. His constituents are worried about the breadth and depth of their coverage, so he’s helped them by voting for a system with more expensive, shallower coverage.

His vote will certainly harm the people of the 2nd Congressional District, and we will all end up paying a heavy price for his nonsense.

Mark Horvath


Risk too high to mine in Maine

The mining bill, LD 820, uses the same strategies for monitoring a mining site that are used for preventing pollution from landfills, which are not applicable to mining. The idea of monitoring wells 100 feet from shaft openings is as ridiculous as a doctor looking in your mouth for signs of disease in your colon. There’s little chance that such monitoring will detect pollution in time for remediation, and there’s no credible way to remediate.

High-sulfide waste rock reacts with water and oxygen to form sulfuric acid, which is carried off the mine site by rainwater or surface drainage to nearby streams, rivers or lakes, creating serious environmental damage for thousands of years.

Under LD 820, millions of tons of high-sulfide waste rock can be disposed of by filling the mine shafts. This waste rock should be classified as a serious pollutant because the likelihood of it being exposed to air and water is overwhelming. Are there any high-sulfide mines that do not produce acid rock drainage?

Maine’s climate is getting wetter. Ground water always ends up as surface water.

How can financial assurance be calculated when serious problems may not be detected for 100 years and our health is not even considered? There is a unbroken mining history of abandonment of financial responsibility.

What is the benefit of a few years of mining jobs as compared to the recreational economy and its anticipated growth which requires clean habitat, lakes, rivers and streams? Why would we mine in Maine when the risk here is so high?

Charles Fitzgerald


Oppose right-to-work bill

So-called “right-to-work” legislation is before the Legislature once again. LD 65 would prevent unions from charging nonmembers a “fair share” payment for services unions must deliver.

There are three good reasons, based on the services required, to oppose this bill.

A union contract — governing wages, benefits and working conditions — establishes one set of rules for everyone. This puts a brake on favoritism. It also means your raise, promotion, vacation or overtime payments are not subject to the arbitrary decision of corporate bigwigs, faceless bureaucrats or elected officials.

Unions make sure contract provisions are enforced. If a union negotiates a raise or affordable health insurance, even nonmembers get the benefit.

In a union-represented workplace, no worker is alone on the job. If you want to understand what contract provisions mean for you, think you’ve been treated unfairly, need help with paperwork or just want to talk, a trained union representative will be there for you.

No employee can be forced to join a union — this has been illegal since 1948. Union service to nonmembers is not, however, optional.

Though much union work is done by volunteers, there are expenses involved — for training, travel, paid staff and (when needed) attorneys. Courts have repeatedly upheld the equity of fair share payments by nonmembers to cover these costs. LD 65 would outlaw them.

There are always people who want someone else to pay for what they consume. To enshrine these desires as a basic human “right” makes a mockery of justice.

Lisa Feldman


Mining toxins harm children

The mining bill LD 820 would allow contamination of groundwater with toxins that are waste product from mining operations. The toxins released by a mining operation at Bald Mountain would include arsenic, cadmium, lead and mercury. Pre- and postnatal exposure to any or all of these is linked with learning disabilities.

Arsenic exposure is linked to lower IQ scores, lower cognitive function and ADHD. Children exposed to cadmium are at higher risk of learning disabilities and special education. According to the Natural Resources Council of Maine, children born to women who are exposed to mercury during pregnancy are at higher risk for a several disabilities, including intellectual disability, deafness and blindness. The many negative impacts from lead exposure include lower IQ, ADHD, social and conduct disorders, and drug abuse. There is no safe level of lead exposure. Preventing exposure to environmental toxins is the best way to prevent learning disability.

Groundwater contamination is very hard to control. In September 2016, NRCM staff scientist, Nick Bennett, stated, “The idea that you can allow that and keep it on site is a very dangerous idea. In Maine, groundwater connects to surface water very easily.” Testimony by University of Maine hydrologists backs up Bennett’s statement. By allowing groundwater contamination, LD 820 would expose more women and children to toxins that increase learning disabilities in children.

There are no examples of metallic mineral mining, anywhere in the world that does not contaminate the groundwater surrounding the mining area. The Legislature should reject LD 820.

Shelley Mountain



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