Maine senators takes stand against methane waste
Recently, several members of Congress tried to give the oil and gas industry a free pass to waste taxpayer dollars and energy resources through dangerous leaks in methane from oil and gas operations. Fortunately for Maine, Sens. Angus King and Susan Collins took a stand against a dirty energy agenda and voted against attempts to gut standards that limit the oil and gas industry’s methane pollution and waste.
Natural gas on federal lands belongs to all American taxpayers. Americans deserve a share of the royalties on those resources, half of which should be allocated to help pay for local education and infrastructure. Despite this, companies waste $330 million per year through venting and flaring natural gas — enough to power about 5 million homes per year. It is unacceptable for American tax dollars to be used to clean up after the giant corporations, and I thank King and Collins for siding with Mainers instead of wealthy CEOs.
A look at Maine’s winters
A photo from the May 14 BDN article about the uncertain future for the maple farm in Big Six Township keeps popping up in my mind’s eye. Troy Bennett shows Oliver Provencal stretching way up as high as he can reach to the maple sugar tap. It was installed originally at waist level on top of many feet of snow.
As a snowbird from South Carolina, I found muddy road camp conditions upon arrival because of 7 feet of sudden snow melt. It is hard to imagine, but that story and photo clued me in a little about the winter world in Maine.
Thanks to journalist Michael Shepherd for this maple sugar story and a photographer who made it exceptionally clear. A picture is worth a thousand words.
Food pantry need growing
Last month, the board of directors for Area Interfaith Outreach food pantry and emergency assistance voted to launch a capital campaign to raise funds for purchasing a larger building. Only four years ago, a typical day at the food pantry saw around 25 people coming for food. Thirty was a big day. Then the numbers started climbing.
In 2014, Good Shepherd Food Bank reported the number of people coming to food pantries across Maine had climbed by 30 percent. That was the same increase we saw at our pantry. Then in 2015, another 30 percent increase. This past winter, people driving by around 9:30 a.m. often saw a line across the parking lot. Inside there’s barely standing room. The number of households every morning now hovers around 45.
We have a small building, but now it’s too small and cannot be expanded. We limit our shoppers to five at a time because we’re bumping into each other. We often stay open past closing to help all who have been waiting.
We hope a new place can have a larger waiting room, shopping room, work room, parking lot, two small, private offices for voucher interviews and maybe a demonstration kitchen for teaching much-needed, basic cooking skills.
Judging from the political climate in Augusta and Washington, we expect the number of low-income, disabled, elderly and chronically ill people needing our help will continue to grow. We are confident that our community will help us meet the growing challenges.
Lift children out of poverty
The percentage of Maine children living in deep poverty, less than $10,000 per year, is growing eight times the national average, yet fewer than one-third receive federally designated child financial support through TANF.
As a pediatrician having practiced in Bangor and Blue Hill, I have seen an increasing number of children reeling from the effects of extreme poverty. These include 3-year-olds and 4-year-olds with uncontrolled anger, hyperactivity and aggressive behavior toward other children.
The mothers I see are usually struggling heroically to support their children. I routinely hear from them how difficult it is to escape the trap of poverty, especially without the help of other family, needed social services and state entitlement programs. No one wants to stay in poverty nor on welfare.
This is why I so strongly urge support of LD 1475, the Leveraging Investments in Families Today bill. The beauty is that it uses currently sequestered TANF funding, involving no new money from the state’s general fund nor Maine taxpayers.
It will provide bi-generational educational support for parent (secondary and job skill education) and child (early child care and education vouchers). It provides for critically needed increased substance abuse prevention and treatment access. Finally it is outcomes data driven to measure its effects and ensure responsible stewardship.
Proactive, smart, evidence-based public policy for family prosperity is a critical component of the prescription. Child and family prosperity leads to a prosperous Maine. We need your support on this bill to guarantee equal opportunity for all Maine children.
Bob Holmberg, M.D.
Guns on campus a terrible idea
My husband and I spent our professional careers working at colleges. He was a professor and dean. I was director of the student health center. Therefore, I believe I can speak for both us when I say that allowing college students to carry concealed firearms on campus is one of the most ridiculous, foolish and downright stupid bills — LD 1370 — that the Maine Legislature could possibly consider. What would make anyone believe that students with firearms will make the campus safer?
Think alcohol and other drugs. Think mental health problems. Think anger. Think jealousy. Think partying. Think adolescents. This is a terrible idea.
Poliquin’s health care vote
As a resident of rural Maine and a self-employed individual, I was fortunate to have health insurance that was affordable thanks to the Affordable Care Act.
I am appalled that Rep. Bruce Poliquin voted for its repeal knowing that many of his constituents rely on Medicare, the Affordable Care Act and suffer from pre-existing conditions. I tried to contact Poliquin’s Bangor and Washington offices to express my concern and urge him to support us. Both mailboxes were full, and staff didn’t answer the phone.
We deserve a representative who is accessible and listens to all his constituents, not only the ones who share his opinions. Poliquin does not deserve us.
Sandbar Tract Township