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Maine jobs and homegrown energy
Logging and forest trucking contractors represented by the Professional Logging Contractors (PLC) of Maine are in full agreement with a July 23 OpEd in this paper calling for legislative support for a bill to encourage more wood heating in our state.
The OpEd, “Wood fuel part of solution to COVID-19’s damage to Maine economy,” urges Congress to pass The Biomass Thermal Utilization (BTU) Act, S.628, which would extend tax credits to homeowners and businesses that install advanced wood heating, such as those using chips and pellets in automated systems, reducing installation costs and giving a boost to this Maine-based industry.
This bill is a good idea because Maine — which is the most forested yet one of the most fossil fuel dependent states in the U.S. — has an abundance of low grade wood that is ideal for creating sustainable heat energy without depleting our forest resource. It is also essential to the survival of our forest economy in Maine. As you read this, Maine loggers and forest truckers are facing the greatest crisis in their history. Maine had already lost many markets for low grade wood even before COVID-19 began idling mills and markets across the globe.
With markets disappearing, including SAPPI’s biomass energy generation facility in Westbrook later this year, any new outlet for wood waste and other low grade wood could be a lifeline for these businesses. We urge passage of the bill to save Maine jobs, increase homegrown energy and reduce fossil consumption.
HEALS Act flaws
I have concerns about the HEALS Act as proposed by the Senate Republicans. It has in it provisions that do not belong in a bill that should be designed primarily to provide means of support to the citizens at risk of loss of a salary, and who struggle to pay for rent, food, or health care.
It includes a bill written by Sen. Mitt Romney that is designed to address shortfalls in Social Security funds by appointing a committee that will be tasked with finding a means to solve this issue and will not be restricted in its approach to the problem. The fact that Sen. Romney’s effort is supported by the Koch Brothers organization, Americans for Prosperity, a group that has proposed moving toward privatizing social security, is a reason for suspicion. Why is this bill included in The Heals Act?
Also there is a provision in this bill that will now allow deductions for business meals and entertainment. This advantage to businesses does not belong in an act that should be focused on providing means of providing economic support to citizens who have been affected by the pandemic.
The HEALS Act does not support states’ needs by providing monies so desperately needed for provision of services to the citizens. States suffer from missing taxes that usually provide for schools, police, fire fighting and range of necessary services.
The HEALS Act provides too little, too late and does not adequately provide for the immediate needs of citizens.
Nancy L Gilbert
Recognizing essential workers
In the past few months we have seen the importance of essential workers and civil servants to our country, with differing responses. Of most importance, without doubt, has been the work of doctors, nurses and other medical workers. In addition, teachers, postal workers, food providers, and even garbage collectors have proved their absolutely necessary place in our welfare. How we view them and compensate them has not always been so clear, and the leadership of our president in recognizing their great work has been, quite frankly, poor at best.
I believe the efforts of our law enforcement, important as they are, have also been undervalued by President Donald Trump. He was, however, quick to assign federal officers to various locations with clearly political purposes, without clear identification and unmarked rental vehicles. Such actions are frightening — not simply because he targets Democratic cities. More than that, I worry he is laying the ground for any radical group in camouflage uniforms to invade our lives willy-nilly, with who knows what dangerous outcomes.
Some people may not feel threatened by such possibilities, but if such a group shows up at their door and demands to take them away with no justification, they can just thank the good work of President Trump.