Universal health care

Universal health care coverage is a national nonprofit group by the name Maine AllCare.

Coverage for health care would include dental, vision and other benefits, with little or no out-of-pocket costs.

Since one-sixth of the U.S. economy is being spent on health care, there already exists money to fund total coverage for all residents.

Other nations spend less per person on health care than the U.S. and they have better health results than the U.S.

Local people have established a Waldo County Chapter of Maine AllCare and we are educating people.

Want to know more? Go to maineallcare.org or email waldocounty@maineallcare.org with any questions.

On Thursday, July 12, at 6:30 p.m. in the Abbott Room of Belfast Free Library, everyone is invited to attend the free local meeting.

Bonami von Rumpf

Belfast

WIC aid available

Women, Infants, and Children is a nonprofit supplemental food and nutrition program serving income-eligible families. WIC provides supplemental food packages, breast feeding support, free nutrition information, guidance, and referrals to other community programs to:

  • Women who are pregnant, breastfeeding, and up to six months post-partum.
  • Infants and children up to the age of 5, including foster children.
  • Fathers, who also may apply for their children.

WIC serves working and non-working families. If you and/or your child receive MaineCare, SNAP or TANF, you are considered income-eligible for WIC. Eligibility is based on the number of people living in the household, the gross household income level, as well as other nutritional criteria. Call us to check income guidelines.

WIC families now receive more variety and healthier choices than ever before. These include fresh, frozen and canned fruits and vegetables, milk and other dairy including yogurt and cheese (dairy substitutes are available), eggs, whole grain bread, whole wheat pasta, cereal, infant formula and baby food, plus more. During the summer months, farmers' market checks are also available.

The Belfast office serves the communities of Waldo County with a main office in Belfast and clinics in Unity and Frankfort. Our office hours are Monday, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., and Tuesday through Thursday, 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. We are closed on Friday. Applying is easy! Call us to see if you are eligible at 338-1267 or toll-free at 1-844-659-9749.

Sumer Bayer, CHES, CLC

Belfast WIC Office Supervisor

A compelling reason to wait

I urge Sen. Collins to join with Democrats and block any Supreme Court Justice nomination until the Russian investigation is complete.

President Trump has refused to use his power to protect our country from Russian interference in our elections. Instead he attacks our judiciary, our intelligence community, our free press, while consistently stating that he trusts Putin.

He can nominate a Supreme Court justice who is likely to decide on issues relating to the Mueller investigation and its impact on him. Does he get to pardon himself? His friends? What is within the scope of Mueller’s investigation? Trump could even secretly require a loyalty oath from his nominee. He has lied so often; we cannot believe anything he says.

Sen. Collins, Republican leadership has not kept its promises to you. Too many congressional Republicans have chosen loyalty to Trump over fulfilling their responsibilities as members of an independent branch of government.

Republicans forced a one-year delay to vote on a Supreme Court Justice when there was no cloud over the president. Now there is a compelling reason to wait: ensuring that no one is above the law.

Joyce Schelling

Orland

Insect farms?

Sadly, the Nordic Aquafarms (NAF) salmon farm discussion has become divisive.  Between defensiveness by those in power and overreacting by some without power, many of the key issues will probably have to be sorted out by scientists and regulators.

There are many unknowns about this huge concentrated animal feeding operation (CAFO) experiment. One issue is how to feed perhaps the largest land-based salmon farm in the world. NAF has stated several times that their goal is locally produced “organic” food. At the last informational meeting we learned that the salmon will only be fed 5 percent fishmeal. Since salmon are omnivores, the big experiment is, will salmon become vegetarians or will CAFO chicken and hog farms become a new source of protein?

I am surprised that another topic has not gained more discussion: NAF has mentioned numerous times that insects may be yet another experiment on the horizon for a protein substitute. When I mentioned the thought of huge grasshopper farms to my wife, the reaction was OMG what if someone leaves the door open, isn’t this one of the plagues that threatened Egypt?

I hope that I am not being an alarmist, but what about insect farms in Maine?  We may be in the process of completely redefining what is “farming” in Maine. I’d like to see more discussion on this topic of what it means to feed a CAFO with Maine-produced protein — and it is even possible to do this safely and, better yet, organically?

John Krueger

Northport

Absolute dominion: ramifications for residential water supply

Land-based aquaculture facilities require huge volumes of fresh water. CEO Eric Heim states that Nordic Aquafarms, which has proposed an industrial salmon-growing facility in Belfast, will require 630 million gallons of fresh water annually from the Little River Watershed (plus 100 million to 262 million from Belfast Water District) for normal production.

Comparatively, the Kingfield Nestle bottling facility is capped at 200 million gallons annually. NAF will be one of the largest fresh water consumers in Maine. What does that mean for Belfast, Northport and Belmont residents?

Important to this discussion is the absolute dominion doctrine, which is how laws regarding ground water access and use were written in the early 1800s. The doctrine states that if an individual owns a parcel of land with a well, he can extract as much water as he wants from it. It also states that if a neighboring well has quality or quantity issues related to the pumping from such a well, that there is no legal recourse. The neighbor cannot receive monetary compensation, nor require the offending well owner to stop pumping at such a rate. These water laws were appropriate when we had dug wells and primitive pumping capabilities.

Along came industry, the need for greater amounts of water, and the technology to draw massive quantities from the land. This has led almost all states in the US. to adapt or discard absolute dominion altogether. Only three states maintain these antiquated laws; Texas, Indiana, and Maine. Aha!

This is why we currently have 20+ water bottling facilities in Maine and the first two industrial fish farms on the horizon; free natural resources supporting big profit. And, the law is on the side of the corporation. Regardless of issues with the aquifer, neighboring wells, or public water supplies, industry is protected by absolute dominion, “the law of the biggest pump.”

Here lies the risk to our community; sharing our watershed with a limitless water consumer. NAF states that the watershed can support normal operation, but they cannot guarantee others will not experience negative consequences as a result.

By approving the permit for NAF to develop here, we are giving them 100-percent access to our watershed. In the event of drought, watershed depletion, or water needs exceeding the proposed 730-892 million gallons annually, they will have it. Those sharing the watershed will have no protections by Maine law.

As well, a legal review of the PUC proceedings of last March regarding the Belfast Water District and NAF concludes that in the event of emergency or water shortage, NAF will continue to receive water from the Belfast Water District while its residential customers will go without. Again, NAF will be at the top of the food chain (or water chain, in this case).

Find out if you share the 16-square-mile watershed with the proposed NAF site/wells. http://belfastbaywatershed.org/resources/watershedmap.jpg. Be informed about how this decision affects us all.

Donna Broderick

Belfast

Concerns about climate change, carbon footprint

Following her election last fall, one of the first initiatives of Belfast Mayor Samantha Paradis was to advocate for the formation of a city Climate Change Committee. Hats off to the City Council for following her recommendation. The council recently joined “We Are Still In,” thereby uniting with more than 2,700 cities, states, tribes, businesses, universities and faith and cultural institutions to affirm a shared commitment to the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement.

As a mother, a grandmother, and an environmentalist, I would like to comment on Belfast’s potential carbon footprint if we go forward with Nordic Aquafarms’ plan for Belfast.

When the City Council voted unanimously April 17 to change both the Belfast Comprehensive Plan and Zoning Ordinance to allow Nordic Aquafarms to build a massive land-based industrial salmon farm on 40 acres of pristine forest along the Little River, they cited strong climate concern motivations because 80 percent of all fish consumed in the United States is grown and often processed abroad and then flown to U.S. consumers, with an accompanying huge carbon footprint.

Nordic Aquafarms intends to cover the rooftops of all its buildings, somewhere around 20 acres of roof, with solar collectors, which it proudly tells us will generate enough power to offset 6 percent to 10 percent of the operation’s requirements. Which would lead me to surmise that the other 90 percent to 94 percent of electricity for its operation will come from commercial sources.

How much energy will those solar panels offset? That much rooftop could accommodate about 6.4MW (Megawatts, DC) of panels and would likely generate approximately 7.7GWh (Gigawatt hours) of electricity annually. Maine's electricity mix is quite clean, generating 1.026 lbs of CO2 per kilowatt-hour. This means that the carbon emissions saved with these panels will be around 3,950 tons every year. I applaud that!

But what about the other 90 percent to 94 percent of electrical demand? Let’s call it 92 percent for math simplification. Even with Maine’s cleaner sources, this usage will result in emissions of 45,425 tons of carbon every year. This does not factor in the carbon footprint of transportation both in and out of the plant, or the production and transportation of fish food.

As a citizen who applauds the efforts of our mayor and City Council to be proactive in the face of global warming, I am curious to know if we have any other single carbon polluter in our city that can boast this dubious accomplishment.

Consider this: one mature tree absorbs carbon dioxide at a rate of 48 pounds per year. 41 or 42 mature trees would be needed to absorb one ton of carbon. So, to offset 45,425 tons of carbon would require 1,885,000 trees to be planted. I wonder how many living mature trees currently stand in the Little River community forest?

Still concerned; aren’t you?

Ellie Daniels

Belfast

Local Citizens for SMART Growth

Why not do it at home?

The proposed salmon farm smells a lot like the chicken farm hysteria of the late 1960s and early 1970s. What remains today of that endeavor? Other than abandoned chicken barns and farm mortgages, I mean.

Our bay is capable of sustainably producing an enormous variety of marine protein, from clams to all anadromous species to tuna, but an unnaturally high concentration of any single marine species anywhere near the bay is an invitation to a viral epidemic that could threaten the recovery of the entire bay ecosystem.

Here is a report from the Census of 1880, which left out the mackerel, cod, haddock, tuna, lobster, etc. That money was distributed around the bay into many local pockets, but none of it went to Norwegian stockholders. If this is such a good idea, why aren't they doing it at home? There are salmon streams in Norway….

"Census Bulletin No. 278, being the statistics of the fisheries of Maine, had just been issued. In the tabulated statement regarding river fisheries is given the following as the business of Penobscot Bay and its tributaries: The total number of persons employed is 406; value of apparatus and outfit, $27,016; total product for 1880 — pounds sold, 770,863; value, $40,514. In the salmon, shad and alewive fishery, 191 men are employed, with 217 weirs, 36 gill nets, 20 dip nets; the apparatus valued at $18,116. The product was — salmon, 9,208 pounds, value $19,752; shad, 800 fish, value $40; alewives, number used fresh, 18,000; smoked, 667,000; barrels salted, 17, value $4,823 — Total value of the three, $24,616. The smelt fishery employs 251 men, with 4 weirs, and 141 dip nets, valued at $8,750. The total product was 266,875 pounds, worth $14,579. The eel fishermen number 29, and use 4 traps and 25 spears, worth $150. They captured 9,000 pounds and sold them for $540. The products of the other river fisheries of our bay and its tributaries was: Bass, 1,000 pounds; worth $100; tom-cod, 177,000 pounds, worth $680."

(Total value of catch: $40,514 in 1880 dollars. That amount as income value in 2015 dollars: $10,900,000.

(https://www.measuringworth.com/uscompare/relativevalue.php) This was printed in the Maine Mining and Industrial Journal, Bangor, May 26, 1882, a decade or more after fish ladders had been constructed on most tributaries (seven on the Ducktrap stream alone).

William B. Leavenworth, Ph.D., New England Environmental History

Searsmont

The impact of a word

Scott Pruitt, head of the Environmental Protection Agency, is gone. Paying him homage recently was Oklahoma’s Sen. James Inhofe, who said Pruitt has been “single-minded at restoring the EPA to its proper statutory authority and ending burdensome regulations that have stifled economic growth across the country.”

It would take a book (and probably has) to cover how vital regulations have been in the enforcement of our environmental laws. A regulation is designed to put teeth into law enforcement. Regulations protect speed limits, control unruly crowds, overcrowding in vehicles, etc. Without regulations laws become useless.

Some regulations can and should be modified, maybe even dropped, given today’s reality, like those pertaining to horse and buggy times. But most are essential. Trump treats the word regulation as a profanity, and people buy it — roaring with approval when he says it.

The EPA was tasked almost 50 years ago with enforcement of newly enacted laws to protect our air, water, land, drinking water, other species. Its mission was vast but vital. Until this administration, it protected our drinking water. It guarded against dangerous pesticides, untested chemicals, mining and drilling hazards, industrial contamination. (For a comprehensive list of acts the EPA has enforced, Google environmental laws and go to to the website List of United States Federal Statutes.)

Andrew Wheeler is now acting EPA administrator. For 12 years he was James Inhofe’s chief of staff and has long worked for Massey Industries as a coal lobbyist.

He has no science background. But the president assures us that he will carry on Pruitt’s mission until a new, equally horrifying successor is named. Bruce Poliquin will no doubt vote for that successor. And the EPA, which was created to protect some of our most basic survival needs, could be all but destroyed.

Beverly Roxby

Belfast