MRC right to part ways with PERC

After reading the Feb. 9 Bangor Daily News OpEd by Bob Knudsen of USA Energy Group, the managing partner of Penobscot Energy Recovery Co., I was angry at the misleading information and its self-serving tone.

Shame on Knudsen for deliberately misleading BDN readers on the viability of Municipal Review Committee’s plan to send waste to a new trash-to-energy facility in Hampden starting in 2018. This scare tactic is a repeat of bad history. I know this because I was there in 1989 as a member of the municipal negotiating team that had to accept much higher tipping fees, pull PERC out of the ashes and keep the project alive.

The MRC was created to look out for the best interests of municipalities, and its mission of ensuring affordable, long-term and environmentally sound waste disposal for municipalities has not changed. In fact, after reviewing the viability of PERC and repeatedly receiving no response from PERC to work together, MRC developed a plan that keeps local control of recycling, a trash and organics processing facility called Fiberight, and backup disposal capacity.

I didn’t trust PERC in 1991, and I don’t trust them now. I urge municipalities to ignore the biased OpEd of a principal owner in PERC and to approve the well-thought-out MRC plan. It is in the best interests of municipalities and planet Earth to reduce landfill waste by participating with the MRC — our neighbors and fellow taxpayers.

Richard Vander Zanden


Raise the minimum wage

This year, Mainers will have the opportunity to raise the minimum wage, but we have the opportunity to do more than that. We can make a significant change to the opportunities available to everyday Mainers.

I work as a custodian at a local institution for higher education. I am the proud father of a little girl, and I want to make sure every opportunity is available for her. I worked to help my wife get her own education, and now I’m advancing my own. While we’ve struggled a lot to get to where we are, we’ve been lucky in many ways, too. Because I helped support the family while my wife was in school, she was able to finish and now has a good job.

But for many single parents, the availability of good paying jobs is simply too limited. Kids are dropping out of school every year as the high costs of tuition and the low pay of minimum wage work holds them back from achieving their dreams.

Thinking about my daughter, I’m all too aware of the fact that young women disproportionately carry these burdens. The proposed minimum wage increase would give one in three working women a raise. For thousands of young women and young men, their ability to chase their dreams are hindered by an economy that does not give everyone a fair shot and that does not ask the wealthiest in our society to do their fair share.

Jean Bourque


Fiberight not the right waste solution

The management and staff of the Penobscot Energy Recovery Co. plant in Orrington are to be commended for their expertise in handling the municipal waste from 187 communities over the years. Their diligence, combined with more than $110 million in current improvements, have proven that PERC is not only a viable method of handling trash, but it is successful at it and will continue to be.

PERC’s quality service has provided participating towns with $25 million profit. PERC will have no debt when the contract ends, thereby reducing operating costs. PERC will be able to operate in 2018 with less tonnage and fewer restrictions, thereby making the sale of electricity more flexible and profitable. And PERC is now offering communities 10 to 15 year contracts starting in 2018 at just $84.36 to $89.75 per ton of waste.

It’s built. It’s paid for. It works.

Yet, communities are being asked to abandon PERC and support a company with an unproven track record that wants to use unproven technology. Fiberight’s proposition involves building massive infrastructure, constructing a plant and then hoping it will work. In 2014, its proposed plant in Iowa was promised to be a similar size to the one proposed in Hampden and would produce a trash-derived ethanol as a fuel additive. Now Fiberight has dropped “Trashanol” and will focus on industrial sugars and biogas. And the Iowa plant was mothballed. Where is Fiberight headed now?

It’s not built. It’s not paid for. And there’s no guarantee it will work.

Susan Pate


Refugees need to fight for their homes

The refugee situation has gotten out of hand. It is time to evaluate and find a solution to the Syrian problem. What we have in Syria is a citizenry that have given up on their rights to freedom and are willing to leave their homeland.

There are two choices in this situation: cut and run, which is the choice some have taken; or stay and fight for their freedom, such as our forefathers did, which gained us our own freedom. It is sad to see a complete lack of courage and desire to fight.

Are these the people we want to bring to our shores? If they are so eagerly willing to desert their own homeland, why would we think that they would feel any different toward our nation? Can they be trusted to stand with us against enemies, foreign and domestic? I say no.

We need boots on the ground in Syria and Iraq to fight the Islamic State. Why not refugee boots? Let them earn their rights and freedoms through their endeavors. We can organize, arm and train them, and even lead them, but they must take back their country. Self-worth is a valuable asset to have on the road to a better life. We cannot provide enough welfare and free housing to offset that loss of worth. Unless, of course, self-worth holds no value to them. We do not need people with that mentality here on our shores; we have plenty already.

Wayne LeVasseur