End fossil fuel subsidies

Thank you for the excellent Feb. 19 editorial “Energy subsidies aren’t just for renewables, fossil fuels get the lion’s share.” The only thing the BDN didn’t tell readers is they have the power to do something about the exorbitant fossil fuel subsidies, direct and indirect, that our tax dollars are paying. They can urge Rep. Bruce Poliquin and Sens. Susan Collins and Angus King to sponsor legislation ending all energy subsidies and instead pay a carbon dividend to the public.

The carbon dividend should be paid for by charging fossil fuel companies carbon extraction fees. They extract dirty fuels from the ground, we should get paid. We don’t want our taxes to subsidize their profit-making ventures any more.

Thanks for laying out all the facts so clearly. For more information about carbon dividends, contact Citizens’ Climate Lobby.

Judy Weiss

Brookline, MA

Maine at crossroads

I agree with Doug Thomas ( BDN column, Feb. 19) about one thing — a new Maine economy is going to have to come from Maine people. However, many ideas for development expressed in the pages of this paper of late, positioning Maine to take advantage of extractive industries in the North, building an east-west highway, are patently bad ideas. It’s simply immoral and irresponsible behavior to continue economic activities that not only defer true costs to the future but result in ecocide and genocide.

Here are two simple ideas to get Maine going on the right track. First, build out high-speed Internet connectivity throughout the state. Instead of throwing billions away on a highway to serve Canada, build an Internet infrastructure that all Mainers can benefit from.

Second, Maine people need to take control of our energy supply. Burlington, Vermont, has achieved energy independence using solar panels, and we can, too. This is not an idea that’s too expensive, or something to think about for the future. What’s too expensive is what we are doing now, sending our energy dollars away and paying fossil fuel industries to ruin the environment.

The Maine economy is at a crossroads. The old ways are gone. We can be bold and go for green economic growth, or we can fall back on old chestnuts such as an east-west highway, an effort that would set us back relative to the way the rest of the world is moving forward. The only thing in the way is ourselves.

Tod Cheney

Blue Hill

Black Irish luck?

The Black Irish are characteristically dark complexioned and dark eyed with jet black hair unlike their fair-skinned gaelic brethren. The theory is that they come by their enigmatic coloration as a result of Philip of Spain’s Spanish Armada, sent to conquer Elizabethan England back in the late sixteenth century, being totally wrecked in a raging North Sea storm. Some of the dark-skinned Spanish Moors made it ashore and co-mingled, and a new shade was added to the native populace. My ex-wife is black, Black Irish.

Coincidentally, we were both visiting our Boston daughter, a professional woman living in Somerville, at the same time recently. Returning from a shopping trip to the city accompanied by my daughter’s live-in nanny, a lady from Haiti equally dark complexioned, my ex-wife was telling how she had told-off a brogue-speaking Irish cop who pulled her over for making a U-turn coming off the bridge into Somerville. Seems she took the cop’s gruff manner as long as she could, but when she’d had it, she got out of her car and into his face big time, whereupon he demanded to see her driver’s license.

Scrutinizing her license, he suddenly became solicitous and asked her not to do what she had done ever again and left.

“I told him!” she proclaimed, smugly, proud of her prowess.

Well, I couldn’t resist and asked: “And what bridge was it, my dear?”

“Why the Tobin Bridge, of course,” she blurted cluelessly.

Phil Tobin


Change Skowhegan mascot

Regarding the Skowhegan High School mascot issue, I have this question to pose. What part of “no means no” don’t people get? If the use of the image, name and culture is unwanted and the mascot is perpetuated, it is a form of harassment. All schools and workplaces have harassment policies in place that state when a gesture is unwanted and the person or persons repeatedly says so, continuing to do the offending behavior is harassment.

The school athletic program should be a model in recognizing that no means no, especially in this day and age. What message are we sending our youth in insisting in using this way we claim is honoring or respecting when it has been clearly stated that it is not welcome by some?

The argument that we have always been the Indians falls flat as well. How many injustices have been perpetuated in history because it was always done that way? That argument might have kept slavery in place, prevented women’s right to vote and countless other lopsided power struggles.

People of Skowhegan have a chance to do the truly honorable and respectful thing here. Members of the native population expressed offense more than 10 years ago. The question should not be will we change it but what will we change it to?

Mary McCann-Baker


Stop mining rule change

In the final weeks of the 2012 legislative session, LD 1853, a bill to weaken Maine’s metallic mineral mining rules, was approved by Maine Department of Environmental Protection and Board of Environmental Protection. Luckily, the Environmental and Natural Resources Committee rejected these weakened rules with LD 1772, directing the DEP to reformulate mining rules that would be acceptable by February 2016. LD 1772 was vetoed by Gov. Paul LePage, leaving the door open for another try.

The same weak mining rules are back in the form of LD 146, which is being pushed through the energy committee in an “emergency” hearing. The emergency seems to be designed to limit public input and democratic discourse in order to expedite lax rules that allow unlimited pollution of groundwater, the ability to develop mining sites near or under public lands and numbers of lakes and rivers; all with generous loopholes that leave taxpayers on the hook for massive cleanup.

If you care about this important issue, make your voice heard by sending comments to Tyler Washburn, clerk of the Environmental and Natural Resources Committee.

Carole Boothroyd

Dover Foxcroft