Regulating the true culprits

On April 10, the Bangor Daily News ran an article stating a federal judge ruled that the government failed to adequately protect the North Atlantic Right Whale from lobster fishing activities. This leaves not only coastal communities, but the entire state, wondering what will become of this industry that is central to our economy and our identity.

I saw no mention, however, of the Trump administration’s desire for petroleum exploration on the East coast of the U.S. In order to perform this exploration, oil companies use seismic airgun blasting. This practice uses airguns to release blasts as loud as 246 decibels (nearly twice as loud as a jet engine) every 10-12 seconds, 24 hours a day, for weeks at a time.

Whales are known to be incredibly sensitive to sound, so it takes little imagination to guess what will become of the estimated 400 remaining right whales if this process is allowed in U.S. coastal waters. What’s more, the Maine lobster industry has already become a scapegoat for inadequate protection measures for these animals in Canadian waters. Now NOAA apparently wants to turn a blind eye to this potentially devastating practice of oil exploration, and put undue pressure on Maine fishermen and women.

Dead Right Whales are a tragedy, but NOAA must regulate the true culprits, not hardworking Mainers. What’s more, our Sen. Susan Collins and Angus King, and Reps. Jared Golden and Chellie Pingree must vocally denounce all offshore oil exploration activities.

Sam Sheppard


Airports support rural communities

While this global pandemic has already consumed many of our nation’s largest cities, as the recent Bangor Daily News OpEd “Coronavirus pandemic is exacerbating a rural access crisis” highlights, what has been overlooked is the profound and potentially irreversible effect of this crisis on rural communities around the nation.

In rural communities, transportation resources are limited. There are more than 5,000 public-use airports in towns across the country, yet the majority of airline traffic goes through 30 of them. In these and many other cases, general aviation is the only resource for connecting small towns and rural communities and businesses to the tools and services they need.

In fact during this current pandemic, general aviation has helped to transport vitally needed supplies. In addition, our nation’s transportation network — including general aviation and our network of smaller, local airports and airstrips — is more important than ever to agriculture and our nation’s food supply.

These aircraft and airports make it possible for doctors to visit patients in rural areas, help communities to access emergency care, fight fires, conduct search and rescue and help in times of natural disaster. And, this industry supports critical jobs for our communities, supporting $247 billion per year and over 1.1 million American jobs.

In spite of all this, general aviation and our network of local airports are often overlooked as a vital part of our infrastructure, and now more than ever, for the sake of rural communities across our nation, we must support this vital industry and network and invest in its future.

Niel Ritchie

Senior Advisor

Main Street Project

Northfield, MN

Standing up for our homeless neighbors

When Gov. Janet Mills mentioned love in a news conference a couple of weeks ago, I was heartened to think she was thinking about everyone’s needs. To me, it appears she was giving lip service to the concept of loving our neighbors, but failed to define who those folks are. Here’s who I believe they are, and what I want from my peers.

I learned a long time ago that our real neighbors are anyone we meet on the street. That includes the homeless man or woman who needs a permanent place to live. Have people ever thought about the reason they don’t seem to hear about the homeless unless someone is complaining about them?

In my experience, the reason is homeless neighbors are easily dismissed. They’re not visible, for the most part. Imagine being completely powerless while there’s a pandemic causing a critical need for housing and you are homeless.

While people sleep in their warm, dry bed, someone could be sleeping in the woods behind their house in a tent, with no heat, lights or running water. They don’t need flashlights, socks, phone chargers, or prayers. They need people to stand up for them and demand cities use their federal funding to put them in a tiny house, with a community hub to help them live a daily life.

That is the true meaning of loving your neighbor, folks. If people don’t take real, meaningful action to help homeless neighbors return to independent life, they are only helping your neighbors remain homeless.

We can show our love for our neighbors by picking up the phone and calling city managers everywhere. And we can also call the governor.

Marie Pineo

South Portland

My care through Medicare Advantage

During this particularly frightening time for senior citizens, I am beyond grateful for my health care coverage with Medicare Advantage. It provides me with virtual care options and prescription delivery service so I can be extra safe as COVID-19 spreads. With around 1,600 confirmed and probable coronavirus cases in Maine, safety is my priority right now.

Because of Medicare Advantage, I am able to keep my appointments with my doctors through easy to use virtual care and maintain my health without fear of exposure, thanks to all of the preventative measures Medicare Advantage is taking to keep seniors safe. And they have also effectively eliminated costs for COVID-19 testing, so if I do need to get tested, I won’t need to worry about the cost.

I cannot even begin to describe the peace of mind Medicare Advantage has brought me, even before this crisis. The program’s all-in-one comprehensive approach to health care has allowed me to stay healthy and fit so I can keep up with my former students here in Old Town.

I would like to sincerely thank Rep. Jared Golden for supporting Medicare Advantage. This program keeps seniors feeling safe and secure as we steer through our golden years in a global pandemic — not an easy task.

Because of Golden’s support, I know I will continue to be taken care of, and for that I am grateful.

Ralph Canney

Old Town