North Woods at risk

This October, the Land Use Planning Commission will vote on a proposal to make close to 2 million acres of land in Maine’s Unorganized Territories eligible for development. At what cost is the LUPC willing to sacrifice the qualities that distinguish our state?

My family runs a lodge near Jackman, and it’s no wonder why visitors love it here: where else on the East Coast can you find lakes and landscapes as remote, scenic, and undeveloped as Maine’s? The state’s outdoor recreational tourism industry accounts for $8 billion each year, but nature-based tourism businesses like mine will suffer if our beautiful spots become miles of unsightly strip development and soon look just like everywhere else.

I know that 2 million acres can’t be developed overnight, but the character of Maine and its North Woods will change dramatically when individual developments add up over time.

Who would really benefit from this proposal? It certainly isn’t Mainers like me who love our remote forests, nor is it business owners like me who depend upon sharing Maine’s scenic beauty with visitors. The commission’s proposal seems like a gift to wealthy landowners who would profit from such a significant rule change. After all, when land becomes instantly available for development, then it becomes instantly more profitable to sell.

It would be a shame for our state and its natural treasures to fall victim to greed at the expense of our way of life.

Barrett Holden

Better trade deals

Much is in the news these days about burgeoning trade, and the possibility, or not, of renegotiation of the notorious “free” trade treaties. But beyond trying to restore the loss of good-paying industrial jobs here, if that is even possible now, there is little concern for some other serious problems with these treaties that enable the trading corporations and hobble local sovereignty (“freedom” for who?)

Ignored areas of concern are environmental protection, human health, civil and human rights, all threatened in the countries involved, when “free trade” runs roughshod in their borders. Such concerns are called “externalities” and sometimes addressed in “side agreements,” with no policing or enforcement.

Also in need of reform is the very secret, inequitable and one sided system of arbitration (the investor/state dispute settlement) where the (investing) corporation sues the “host “ state for obstructing their profits with regulations, arbitration being carried out in secrecy by a tribunal of three corporate trade specialists, who can fine the offending country.

“Free” trade treaties that do not take people into account can have huge consequences. When NAFTA allowed the US to flood Mexico with cheap (subsidized) corn, thousands of small native Mexican farming families lost their market for native corn and, lost their farms, with many flowing to the US to find work.

If we make trade treaties, they need to protect people and the environment that we are part of, and cannot do without, and the settlements must be open and fair.

Beedy Parker

Lessons from Robert Kennedy

Fifty years ago, Robert F. Kennedy’s campaign for the presidency came to a sudden and tragic conclusion. His campaign focused on hope, humanity, peace and racial unity; themes that are are still relevant today 50 years later. Politics, in RFK’s campaign were a reflection of his life; personal and passionate.

On June 6, 1968 when Kennedy died, the hope for many generations died with him. Today, we need politicians who will stand for people and the true principles of democracy, rather than personal comparisons and criticisms of the “other candidates” for the sake of gaining votes. Today we need to look back at 1968, and 1863, to return to a higher standard for our country; “that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth,” as Abraham Lincoln said in his Gettysburg Address in 1863.

We need to look back at these leaders, at these principles, and the resolve that carried this country through conquest and crisis, so we can look ahead to leaders who will lead us to a better and stronger life for our country and our descendents.

“There are those who look at things the way they are, and ask why … I dream of things that never were, and ask why not?” — Robert F. Kennedy.

Jeffrey Small

Protecting our water

I offer praise to Bangor’s Peace and Justice Center for showing the just released documentary “Awake” that shows the efforts of Water Protectors at the North Dakota Standing Rock Sioux Nation. The video exposes violent actions of the North Dakota National Guard, sheriff department, and hired mercenaries who worked for the oil pipeline company throughout 2016 and 2017.

The violence against the Water Protectors caught on film on a subfreezing night shows the use of water canons, rubber bullets, high-pressure mace canisters, and armored personnel carriers. This motivated myself and others to go to North Dakota and stand with the Water Protectors until tribal leaders asked us to leave when then-President Barack Obama ordered drilling under the Missouri River, the water supply to 18 million Americans, to stop.

“Awake” reopened the sore of my dismay that this kind of violence, common against black Americans in the ‘60s, still exists. I encourage everyone to watch this movie and get educated about this recent sad episode in American history, an episode that continues as oil leaks from the pipeline now.

Even though data shows that oil pipelines leak tremendous amounts of oil as compared to train transported oil, President Donald Trump signed off on continued pipeline drilling at this site as soon as he took office.

Take action to protect our water by standing up, speaking out and voting for those who will protect our water and the environment as a whole. Vote for those who spread love and encourage respect for all people no matter their skin color.

Tim Rogers