Zinke’s harmful policies

As a supporter of our national parks, I was deeply disturbed to read that a large majority of the National Park System Advisory Board recently resigned in protest of Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s refusal to meet or even communicate with them.

Zinke does not hold the interests of the public. His history prior to his appointment was directed to supporting oil, gas and mining interests and their industries. This appears to continue to be at the top of his list of importance. He is proposing offshore drilling, an action that would denigrate and destroy industries that depend on clean water and seriously harm thousands of communities. He has proposed a reduction in the sizes of national monuments as well as allowing mining and other means of selling off their riches.

Maine is a state that relies on, and has always valued, its environment. We cannot allow Zinke’s policies to destroy the very heart of what is valuable to our state. I am concerned for all of my neighbors and the other states that will be affected by his decisions. By ignoring the advisory board, he is dismantling yet another group that functions in the interest of the public.

As a resident of Maine, it is my desire to see this man removed from his position. His policies are narrow and filled with self interest. Citizens who care about the environment and recognize our responsibility in protecting it need to contact their legislators and become active in protesting changes that will negatively affect our state.

Nancy Gilbert

Encourage electric vehicle use

The Maine Legislature’s Transportation Committee on Feb. 13 will hear testimony on a bill — LD 1806 — proposing to impose an annual registration surcharge on Maine’s hybrid and all-electric vehicles in the amounts of $150 and $250, respectively.

This at a time when Maine should be striving to accomplish the transition to all-electric vehicles by 2050. We need to end Maine’s fossil fuel addiction. Each year we send $6 billion outside the state for gasoline, heating oil and natural gas, not a nickel of which recirculates within the state.

I’ve been a hybrid owner for 15 years. My fuel excise tax has averaged $69.30 a year. The proposed surcharge would oblige me to pay $150 a year directly to the Highway Fund, an additional 2.33 times the going rate per gallon. Besides being patently unfair, it’s a huge disincentive against making the break from fossil fuels.

Our highways are important and must be supported. Taxing the fuel is obsolete. I propose we end excise taxes on fuel altogether and immediately. Add a variable surcharge to every vehicle at the time of registration based on projected mileage for the year, taking vehicle weight into account as the key wear-and-tear variable. The total amount of mileage tax each year would be determined by the needs of the state’s highway system as against the current year’s in-state vehicle registration.

Maine needs to encourage the transition to all electric, not create disincentives for making that move. Let your voice be heard.

Hendrik Gideonse

We need a climate change strategy

We need a policy to address climate change. One that limits fossil fuel use, promotes innovation, keeps American businesses competitive and looks out for the average family’s bottom line.

A policy that puts a price on carbon and demands that the fossil fuel industry pay the true cost of its impact on the environment is long overdue. A bipartisan group of economists and national leaders created such a policy. It’s called a revenue neutral carbon fee and dividend. It’s a predictable steadily rising fee that returns the dividend to the citizens and allows for the market to drive energy supply based on fair, competitive pricing, free of any subsidies.

We need more than opposition to local offshore drilling. We need a leader to introduce a solution that addresses the growing problem of climate change. Our state motto is “Dirigo,” meaning “I Iead.” We need a member of Maine’s congressional delegation to step forward with an economic and energy policy for the country and world that addresses the reality of global warming head on. Who will that leader be?

Connie Potvin

Cruise ship debate

As I watch, and join, the fight over whether to turn Mount Desert Island, Frenchman Bay and Acadia National Park entirely over to the cruise ship industry, the issue seems pretty black and white.

Bar Harbor’s is not a depressed economy, but the leaders of the town seem to think money is everything. On the other side are people like me who care about the environment and who love Acadia, and people who pay huge mortgages and taxes so they can have the shorefront homes of their dreams.

In other words, those wanting to sell the area to the cruise ship industry are fighting for more money — those fighting against it are fighting for our lives.

Mary Lou Barker

Tackle the national debt

I’m holding the “ talking stick.” As I’ve watched the recent impasse and short government shutdown unfold, the results were very predictable. Once again the critical piece of the process was all but ignored, and instead it was all about DACA.

One side would have you believe “Dreamers” were all doctors and electrical engineers contributing to society while the other side tells us illegal immigrants are all criminals and members of MS-13 living off taxpayers. While this less than factual debate was raging in all forms of our free press, the fact that Congress once again is spending much more than the tax revenue available to them didn’t even blip the radar.

After the massive tax cut just made into law, should they not be looking to cut spending instead of increasing it? How about cutting spending until those tax cuts kick in and flood treasury with new money? How can you pass a bill that pays for the health care of underprivileged children and fund it with deficit spending paid for by those same children?

The national debt we continue to amass is much more critical to the future of this country than the DACA issue. I yield the “talking stick” to Sen. Susan Collins.

Richard Ginn