Wrong side of history
I have now dropped two memberships of the four environmental organizations voicing support for industrial wind towers on Bowers Mountain. Rather than expressing a commitment to Maine’s “brand” of clean, scenic tourist attractions, they are endorsing industrialization of nine lakes designated as “scenic resources of state or national significance.”
Environment Maine, Natural Resources Council of Maine, Maine Audubon and Sierra Club Maine are actively working to support First Wind’s permit to construct 16 towers. These groups appeared to me to be early supporters of industrial wind before all the facts of the detrimental effects on scenery and wildlife and the financial viability of wind were known.
Now, I believe the well-intentioned environmental groups are on the wrong side of history. The most important issue now is they are compounding a poor decision to support industrial wind, by testifying on April 30 before the Maine Department of Environmental Protection, in support of the Bowers permit.
Unfortunately for all of us, the courage needed to publicly recognize their error may be insurmountable. History is full of examples of good intentions gone awry.
Take the pledge
Climate change is real and happening at an increasing rate. We have a limited window of opportunity if we wish to keep the global temperature rise to just two degrees Celsius — the level agreed to by world governments in order to avoid catastrophic climate disruption.
According to multiple sources, including the group Physicians for Social Responsibility, Maine taxpayers are already covering the hidden costs of the fossil fuel industry due to acid rain and mercury, respiratory illnesses, lyme disease and infrastructure damage as a result of more extreme weather events and rising sea levels. Not to mention, Maine’s contribution of at least $42 million per year for fossil fuel subsidies, according to the website www.priceofoil.org.
A movement called “ The Divestment Movement” on more than 300 college campuses and in more than 100 cities and states is calling for endowments and pension funds to divest their oil, coal and gas stocks.
The goal: To end the stranglehold of coal, oil and gas companies on public policy and funds. Unity College and College of the Atlantic in Maine have already decided to divest, and 11 cities in the U.S., including Seattle and San Francisco, have pledged to follow suit.
In the Maine Legislature, LD 1461 calls on the Maine Public Employees Retirement System to rid its portfolio of fossil fuels. Not only will this send a message that Maine wants to be part of the solution, rather than part of the problem, it will help to protect the assets of our retirees from the “carbon bubble” that will likely result from actions to control carbon emissions.
Take action now. Support LD 1461.
Stealing from taxpayers
Recently the governor has been “spinning” the revenue sharing issue facing the Legislature. His rhetoric makes it sound as if revenue sharing is a gift from the great gods instead of the law that it really is. Since 1972, the law has stated that 5 percent of the sales and income taxes we pay are to be distributed back to municipalities in lieu of having local sales and income taxes.
Unlike the state, cities and towns in Maine have balanced their budgets each and every year; we have not spent more than we take in and we have not raided other entities to do this.
Gov. Paul LePage has challenged municipalities to come up with other solutions, and we have, but the problem is he does not want to hear them. Who in their right mind cuts revenues while millions of dollars in debt? I agree income taxes should be reduced, but we don’t do that when we’re are drowning in red ink — it should be the ultimate goal once our debts are paid.
Stealing revenue sharing from the municipalities is stealing directly from every taxpayer. This is our money, and it is solely used to reduce property taxes. Don’t let the governor or the lawmakers steal our money to pay for their failures.
Call and write both the governor and local representatives, and tell them to stop.
Jay Feyler, town manager
Out on a limb
The removal of the trees and shrubs that ran from the city of Belfast boathouse to the French & Webb boathouse was a hard thing to watch last week. I expressed my opposition to that plan in November 2011, but at the time I was a lone voice and spoke up a bit too late.
The extensive arborvitae and rosa rugosa hedges, along with beautiful maple trees, provided an attractive natural border between the park and the surrounding residential neighborhood whether viewed from land or sea.
These plantings, worth thousands of dollars, were torn out in two days so that many more thousands of dollars can be spent on some new plantings. I just hope the new landscaping will provide good havens for the migrating birds, some screening for the people using the lower park and for the people who live above the park. I also hope that it will be aesthetically pleasing with low maintenance requirements, all of which describes the old landscaping.
Plans for the new harborwalk include all-day and all-night lighting. At a time when the many negative effects of light pollution are being discovered, and when for those very reasons many communities are finding ways to decrease public lighting, why is our community increasing public lighting that stays on all night? Anyone else concerned about this please speak up.
Wise print advice
I’ve been saddened over the past few years as some of my favorite columnists at the Bangor Daily News have been let go, and I miss their insight, wit and wisdom. Still, I do believe, as do many of my Maine friends, that the BDN is the best newspaper in the state.
I do wonder, however, at some of BDN’s management decisions, such as relegating Reeser Manley’s gardening column, “Gardening in tune with nature,” to the online edition, while retaining a columnist such as Erin Donovan in the print edition. I looked forward to gaining some new gardening insight or appreciation every Saturday from Manley, while I avoid reading about personal and family dysfunctions in Donovan’s column.
Someone suggested to me that the latter is meant to appeal to a younger audience, which, presumably, the BDN hopes to attract. Not being young I guess is my problem.
However, given that Maine has the oldest population in the country, I suggest the BDN try to attract us older folks. Sure, we’re going to die off in another 10-30 years, but for now we love the handheld copy of the paper, and it sure is good for starting a fire in winter.
Give them a few more years and those “youngsters” are going to be reading everything online, whether Donovan is writing or not.
Sue Dodge Kircheis