Students can end Skowhegan conflict

Perhaps students of conscience in Skowhegan High School — experience tells me they are in the majority — could implement Martin Luther King, Jr.’s tactic of nonviolent direct action. They could simply refuse to play sports under a banner that insults the dignity of fellow Americans. Perhaps students of conscience from other schools could simply refuse to play against a team whose choice of mascot insults the dignity of fellow Americans. Nothing of great value would be lost, but something of great value, as well as a source of future personal pride in having stood for justice, could be gained. Administrators or coaches or parents who sided against the students would lose all credibility but gain substantially in personal shame.

Given the power of social media in the lives of high school students, given contemporary high school students’ awareness of social injustice, and given high school students’ natural suspicion of tradition — good traditions are just traditions — this kind of action could quickly end the mascot conflict.

John S. Emerson

Old Town

Pro-fossil fuel policies

The agenda of the Trump administration with respect to the coal industry is easily the most counterproductive feather in the cap of his energy and climate policy alongside his refusal to work with U.S. allies on the Paris Climate Accord. The decision to nominate Bernard McNamee to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission is another futile attempt to save the drowning coal industry that is no longer price competitive with natural gas, solar and wind generated electricity.

McNamee firmly believes fossil fuel development is the only logical path for American energy production. The plan is to unsustainably extract the entirety of the U.S.’s underground energy resources. This completely contradicts the present-day consensus of public health professionals, environmental policy, and climate scientists, who are all in firm agreement on the necessity of a full transition to renewable energy resources to meet our climate change targets. The Union of Concerned Scientists reported that should McNamee’s plan to prop up coal and nuclear plants become reality it would cost energy ratepayers anywhere between $17 billion to $35 billion annually. With McNamee’s recent confirmation to FERC, we can expect that the regulatory body will be more likely to adopt pro-fossil fuel policies in the future now that the split is 3-2 on the regulatory body (3 Republicans to 2 Democrats).

However, it is unlikely that his appointment will altogether stop significant renewable energy development in the United States. But, it will certainly be a major hurdle to overcome in the next few years before the 2020 presidential election cycle. Nevertheless, his appointment is a stain on FERC and spits in the face of any notion of independent regulatory oversight. His appointment is a loss in the short term for the fight against climate change and for sensible, fact-based regulation and public policy formulation.

Matt Gonya

South Berwick

Health reform imperative

During the run-up to the recent election I was pleased to see that Americans across the country expressed concern about health care reform, and often supported candidates who called for the overhaul of our outdated insurance system. In Maine alone, on Election Day, Maine AllCare gathered 15,000 signatures in support of universal health care, which means the organization now has more than 40,000 supporters across the state.

This is heartening news for health care reform, but there is still more work to be done to effect change. It’s essential that all of us who advocate reform of the health care system let our senators, congressmen, and congresswomen know they must pass legislation that guarantees access to quality and affordable healthcare for all citizens.

There is impressive support from Maine legislators for national reform. Rep. Chellie Pingree is one of the co-sponsors HR 676, which calls for expanded and improved Medicare for all. Rep.-elect Jared Golden has voiced support for the same bill. We should thank them for their efforts and support, and encourage them to keep working for reform.

Sen. Angus King has supported cost-sharing subsidies in the marketplace as well as reduced drug costs, but he hasn’t weighed in on more substantial reform. He needs to be urged to do so, as does Sen.Susan Collins.

Quality health care is foremost in the minds of Americans, and all our legislators must understand their obligation to enact substantial, fair reform – and soon. Lives depend upon it.

Jane Brox