Fighting for clean air accountability

Concerned residents of South Portland are taking matters into their own hands. We are seeking answers and solutions to excessive and under-regulated tank farm emissions. We’ve been kept in the dark for too long, and find that the Environmental Protection Agency and Maine Department of Environmental Protection have only recently begun to be transparent and take protective measures.

The EPA filed a lawsuit against Global Partners, a Fortune 500 oil company, on March 25, 2019. That’s when city officials first heard from regulators about emissions violations that have been harming the public health for over 15 years.

Needless to say, parents of children in schools and daycares, families living nearby, are not just upset! We are outraged and feel betrayed! Government’s first duty is to protect citizens from harm. We learned in hearings that companies like Global and Sprague Energy have been allowed to operate with licenses based on self-reporting their open-air emissions.

We thank Sen. Rebecca Millett for taking action with a bill that seeks accountability from the agency whose mandate is to protect us and the environment.

We believe that South Portland can have inviting residential neighborhoods, thriving businesses and industries, outstanding schools, and a wide array of recreational opportunities — with clean air! We know we can get there!

Millett has introduced LD 1915, “Resolve, Directing the Department of Environmental Protection to Evaluate Emissions from Heated Aboveground Petroleum Storage Tanks.” There will be a hearing on Friday, Jan. 24 at the Cross Building, across from the State House, in Room 216 at 1 p.m.

Ted Reiner

South Portland

Mediocre development in Pickering Square

Parks and open spaces are valuable commodities in cities. While the bus hub traffic consultants found that Pickering Square would be efficient for the buses, they did not necessarily take into account that Pickering Square is a unique open space in the heart of the City of Bangor. The square has the potential to be a beautiful park with much more usable space. By eliminating the almost impassible road behind Freese’s and the Main Street stores, many commercial businesses could take advantage of having a large walkable bricked square in their backyard. Install park-type roofing systems with attractive lighting, add tables and benches around, and construct a small stage area for local band concerts and singing groups.

The value of the surrounding areas would be enhanced and businesses would benefit from this “attraction” to the center of town. There are options for a bus hub to be located elsewhere, but there are not many options for a park like Pickering Square which has a long history of gathering Bangor’s people together.

Making the square into “all things for all people” is likely to result in mediocre development, which will not be satisfactory for either use. As an example, look what happened at the waterfront, which started out being developed for public use. It was becoming a very attractive entryway into Bangor. Then for some reason, it was reworked to accommodate massive ugly metal staging with walled-off areas, scattered storage trailers, and multiple porta-potties. Clearly, the concerts should have been put elsewhere.

Rather than making an irreversible decision, let’s stop rushing and more seriously consider the other available options for a bus hub.

Carol Cuddy

Holden

A sad state of affairs in Washington

What a sad state of affairs that citizens should have to ask for a United States senator to be devoted to the law. That Sen. Susan Collins is noncommittal about whether witnesses should be called to testify in the upcoming impeachment trial is, in my opinion, pure partisan scheming. It makes me wonder if she completely ignored the House impeachment proceedings, which surely would be a dereliction of duty.

If she had observed the proceedings or listened to recent news events, she would insist that President Donald Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, former National Security Advisor John Bolton, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Attorney General William Barr, Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, and businessman Lev Parnas testify. For this reason, I believe Collins does not deserve a vote in November to continue as one of Maine’s representatives in Washington.

Melissa Berky

Bangor