Letters submitted by BDN readers are verified by BDN Opinion Page staff. Send your letters to letters@bangordailynews.com.

The right to a clean environment

An amendment to the Maine state constitution has been proposed in the legislature, LD 489. The Pine Tree Amendment would guarantee the rights to clean air, water and a healthy environment will become equal to other protected rights. Our constitution already guarantees our rights to enjoying life and liberty, and pursuing happiness, but if we do not have rights to clean air and water and a healthy environment these rights are threatened.

Laws and regulations exist to protect our environment but these are only good to the extent that they are enforced. This amendment will make the protection of our environment constitutionally required, meaning that our government would legally be obligated to provide these vital resources.

It will be argued that we cannot afford this amendment. I say that the health of Maine’s economy is dependent on a healthy fishery, forest industry, tourism and recreation. All of these rely on a healthy environment. We are paying the price for not having a green amendment through higher health care costs, premature deaths, air and water treatment. Many of us already buy drinking water, we cannot afford to buy clean bottled air!

Maine needs to pass the Pine Tree Amendment to ensure that all of us, and all future generations, can enjoy the wonderful clean air, clean water and healthy environment that we love.

Mark Brown

Marshfield

Doctors should make prescription decisions

I wholeheartedly agree with Brian Striar in his recent letter to the editor in the Bangor Daily News, “Drug laws need changing.” I have never understood the huge pendulum swing that the state undertook a few years back.

Many who legally used pain medication were basically all of a sudden told, “No more, use Tylenol.” I am appalled at the number of elderly people who are being told this. Seventy- and 80-year-old people should not have to suffer the rest of their lives in pain because a few people have been overprescribed or have overdosed.

Why is a statute driving medical treatment? I know drugs need to be regulated, but not to the point where a physician’s hands are tied. Doctors should be able to prescribe based on the individual patient’s need, not a broad statute regulating everyone’s care.

Wanda Passero

Hampden

The COVID failure I find important

I found the Feb. 25 column written by Matthew Gagnon, “The Myth of American Failure on COVID” interesting because it didn’t really address some of the most basic issues in our nation’s “failure” as I understand it. The comparison to other nations’ responses to COVID-19 are inevitable, and I appreciate his work to make the numbers and statistics more equitable by population and area.

A U.S. failure in comparison to any other nation is inevitable, but not important to me. The failure I am most mindful of is the politicization of simple issues like the wearing of masks and social distancing when these can help prevent a more widespread transmission of the disease.

The work of our national and state Centers for Disease Control was undermined and ridiculed by persons in the political and media worlds. This hampered efforts of those with scientific and public health knowledge to be heard in an unbiased way. The now more than 500,000 deaths is a clear witness to the damage that this informational obstruction may have caused.

Bruce Burnham

Old Town