The man has an agenda

I read Lawrence Reichard's "Bricks & Mortars" column in your July 19 issue with some surprise and subsequent repulsion.

In the column (re: Nordic Aqua Farms), Mr. Reichard goes on an unfair and unethical tirade for some 11 column inches against one Ms. Marianne Naess, newly appointed PR person for Nordic.

The clear problem with this presented position is that it purely represents guilt by association ― and nothing else. Period.

The moment I read the word "criminality" in the column, I suspected we were headed for trouble ― and indeed we were. He never connected Ms. Naess to any wrongdoing at any of the listed companies. It was simply noting companies that had been fined for violations of law, and that she worked for those companies.

Where I come from we call that "Yellow Journalism." I'm no newspaperman (although I sure read them!), but I'm wise enough to know you should never have allowed that portion to go to press. If Mr. Reichard has some hard, well-researched proof of something, that's fine. If he wants to express his opinion on the topic, that's fine, too. But to go slandering Ms. Naess as Sen. Joe McCarthy would have ― that's a bridge too far.

And for my money, The Republican Journal is complicit and owes Ms. Naess an open apology.

I have read other of Mr. Reichard’s articles in Bricks and Mortars, and it’s safe to say he often crosses a line with many of his assertions. In fact, the larger anti-fish-farm group (of which he participates) regularly strays across a reality/truth/fairness boundary.

He is currently raising funds for a trip to Norway to “investigate” Nordic within their home turf. It's quite clear to me that, if he goes, we should not expect fair and honest reporting from him. It's most likely going to be spin focused primarily on the negatives of Nordic. The man has an agenda.

I trust The Republican Journal will more carefully vet his writings for a standard of fairness and realistic content ― and most surely watch for unethical and unfair opinions.

Just a side note: If Mr. Reichard believes that working for a company that is fined for illegal violations is complicit, then anyone in the Belfast area working for Bank of America is suspect. Which, of course, is patently ridiculous.

Thanks for listening.  I require no reply but I'd be pleased to hear your take on Mr. Reichard's July 19 column.

Dirk Faegre


EDITOR’S NOTE: Ms. Naess’ response appeared on page A4 (the editorial page) of the Journal’s July 26 issue.

The health of our oceans

We have a serious problem. Nearly all the plastic ever made still exists, and we’re adding more than 8 million tons of it to the ocean each year. We produce 300 million tons of single-use plastics annually, and with a growing population dependent upon convenience, and an insatiable appetite for material possessions, things are getting worse.

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch, the largest garbage site in the world, is twice the size of Texas. Made up primarily of plastics and fishing gear, it’s wreaking havoc on marine animals and ocean health. According to scientists, 90 percent of seabirds and 50 percent of sea turtles have plastic in their systems, and by 2050, there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish. Beached whales are increasingly found with plastic-filled stomachs, including a pilot whale who died after ingesting 80 plastic bags, and a sperm whale who died with 64 pounds of garbage in its digestive tract.

A visit to your local store or supermarket (or a look around your home) provides evidence of our addiction. Nearly everything is made from and/or packaged in plastic. Those items that aren’t, like produce or bulk items, have handy plastic bags nearby, and items are often carried home in plastic bags (or paper, which has its own host of environmental problems) as well.

Plastic is winding up in the most remote areas on Earth, including the deepest parts of our oceans, with devastating consequences. It’s also having tremendous impacts close to home. In 2013, the Marine and Environmental Research Institute collected samples from Blue Hill and Penobscot Bays, and found an average of 17 plastic fragments in every liter of water. They also found high numbers of microplastics in animals often harvested for food. To quote them, “No one expected to find that much plastic in ‘pristine’ Maine waters, let alone amounts on par with those in heavily industrialized coastal areas.”

Plastic fibers, largely created by the erosion of plastic trash and the microfibers that come off synthetic materials (like nylon, spandex, polyester) in the wash, escape capture in treatment plants due to their small size. They’re the main type of debris found in American seafood, and are also found in 83 percent of the world's tap water and over 90 percent of bottled waters.

The health of our planet is dependent upon the health of our oceans. We must make concerted efforts to avoid disposable plastics and Styrofoam, and clothes, sheets, etc., made of synthetic fibers. We can refuse, reduce, reuse, rot (compost) and recycle. We can bring reusable bags and jars to the store for produce and bulk items. It becomes habit. It becomes fun. It makes you feel good and wonder why you didn’t do it sooner.

We mustn’t underestimate the power of our choices. As Jane Goodall once said, “Never forget that every single day that you live you make a difference, you impact the world, and you have a choice as to what kind of impact you’re going to make."

Rebecca Tripp


Local conservation totally undermined

The president has just proposed to “improve” the Endangered Species Act, a 45-year-old law that has saved many species from extinction. According to the head of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services, “These changes will produce the best conservation results for the species while reducing the regulatory burden on the American people.”

I for one don’t feel burdened by these regulations. It’s not a hardship for me to realize that the bald eagle has been saved because it’s been protected, that gray whales have rebounded along the Pacific Coast, that forests as old as the Crusades have been spared from destruction, that birds with yearly migrations of 4,000 miles continue to have safe landing places. Fish and Wildlife “Services” has for years served us by their campaigns to totally eradicate gray wolves and other animals, so now it can go full steam ahead ― slaughter wolf and grizzly families in their dens, pour concrete over native grasslands, ignore wetland destruction, etc.

Restricting the Endangered Species Act will shrink critical habitat and allow extractive industries like oil and gas drilling, coal and other mineral mining, and expanded logging, all of which could destroy the habitat these species need to survive. (Trump’s beloved wall is already doing that.) The administration has already weakened the century-old Migratory Bird Protection Act such that people and industries will no longer be held accountable for destroying bird species. If this version of the law had been in place after the BP Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, BP wouldn’t have had to pay any fines whatsoever for the million birds killed by the United States’ largest oil spill.

This proposal would give nearly equal weight to both economic and environmental considerations. This administration also proposes merging the Commerce Department with key agencies within the Department of the Interior, which oversees the Endangered Species Act. Non-human species don’t have corporate money to protect them.

The city’s Climate Change Committee has been tasked with determining how climate change impacts Belfast and we will then engage the community in projects to promote clean energy and more sustainability. But Trump’s policies fly in the face of these efforts. Friends of Sears Island has established a wonderful monarch butterfly protected zone that is a teaching tool as well as a sanctuary. But local conservation is totally undermined by Trump’s plan to gut environmental laws, now including the Endangered Species Act.

If futility trumps hope as local groups and individuals work to protect our basic needs and the needs of other species, then we could succumb to inaction. But one of the most effective actions we can take, right now, beyond working locally, is to work to defeat Bruce Poliquin, who if re-elected will continue to support nearly all of Trump’s scorched Earth policies.

Beverly Roxby


Where is your mom?

Imagine you are 3 years old. You have just taken a very long trip with your Mom by bus. You had no idea where you were going or why but you are with your mom, so it’s OK. You arrive in a strange, scary place but it’s OK because you are with your mom. Suddenly you are taken away from your mom by strange, scary people. You are locked up with a bunch of other scared, crying, miserable little kids. You don't know where you are. You don't know where your mom is. You don't know if you will ever see her again. The guards are mean. They yell at the kids. Nobody is allowed to touch each other except the guards ― they can do whatever they want. The food is bad but you are too upset to eat anyway. Where is the bathroom? Some of the kids are

itchy ― there are little bugs crawling on them. If they don't like the way you are acting they can give you a shot. You can't sleep. You can't tell if it is day or night anyway. How about a bath? If

you find your mom again, you may not remember her. You won't trust her because you think she doesn't love you. How could she if she let this happen? It must be your fault, somehow.

If you survive this, for the rest of your life you will suffer. You could have nightmares, anxiety, suicidal depression, insomnia, flashbacks, an inability to trust anyone ― or God.

You might be so angry and wounded that you will be violent to others or take your own life. You will almost certainly try to self-medicate with drugs, alcohol and other destructive behaviors.

Sandy Spinney


An experienced, dedicated leader

I am writing to support the election of Erin Herbig to represent Waldo County (District 11) in the Maine Senate. Rep. Herbig grew up in Belfast and has witnessed so many of her peers being tempted to leave this area and not return. As a future senator, she will work hard to bring opportunities back home.

As a lifelong educator presently serving as coordinator of Literacy Volunteers and the WorkReady program at Belfast Adult Education, I interact daily with many local residents whose lives would benefit from Erin’s efforts to (1) expand reliable high-speed internet areas of rural Maine, including Waldo County; (2) bring a community college center to Waldo County; (3) support working families through access to affordable childcare, health care and paid family leave.

Rep. Herbig’s outreach to Belfast Adult Education to strengthen training partnerships between adult education, vocational programs, and Waldo County employers has given me hope that the needs I see are being addressed.

In particular, I am heartened to know that my legislator recognizes the urgent need for apprenticeship programs that connect training to local jobs, foster aspirations, and provide better prospects for a decent livelihood.

A vote for Erin is a vote for those who are the most vulnerable and voiceless, giving them an experienced, dedicated leader who can create real change for the common good.

Denise Pendleton


A bit of gratitude

The issue of communication at City Council meetings is generating a lot of interest, and I am encouraged. Mayor Samantha Paradis has done well in advocating for herself and calling for some changes in the way meetings are conducted.

In turn, the council members have agreed to a facilitated discussion with Pam Plumb, a very seasoned and skilled professional and former city councilor in Portland. With her help, the mayor and council members can establish guidelines that meet their expressed needs for mutual respect and recognition of the work they do, whether among themselves or with the public.

As a volunteer for Restorative Justice, I support this model that can benefit us all.

I have on occasion not felt heard by City Council members, for instance when I questioned the cost of the Rail Trail and its possible effects on property taxes. I later admitted I was wrong that time — the Rail Trail is great (I still worry about my taxes).

While I do not agree with every decision the City Council and other officials have made, they deserve credit for recent developments. Belfast is charming and has amenities that rival those of Camden and Damariscotta. The council also listened to citizens’ concerns and refused permits to both Walmart and Lowe’s. How about some recognition for all that, instead of continuing criticism?

A teacher visiting from Africa once looked around and told me “This is paradise, you know.” I was humbled to think how much I take for granted. How many of my complaints are really minor compared with the hardships people experience elsewhere. Maybe we all need a bit of gratitude now and then.

Joanne Boynton


Real reform must come from grassroots pressure

Our current health care policy doesn't favor the common good.

Instead it is designed to incorporate stakeholders in the medical-industrial complex and their shareholders. The market-based system is unhindered by cost or price control.

The pharmaceutical industry massively lobbies against negotiated drug prices or importation of drugs from other countries.

The results of this: the ever-increasing millions of Americans who cannot afford necessary care with an end result that one diagnosis or one major injury and that American faces medical bankruptcy.

Universal coverage through improved and expanded Medicare for all should be the aim of health policy in America. It is in all other modern industrial countries around the world.

Just look at the opioid epidemic America is waking up to at present. It is estimated 80 percent of the addicts injecting will contract Hepatitis C. What does the history of Hep C reveal? Only that present policies dealing with public health are a failure. The chronic virus, Hepatitis C, infects 3.2 million Americans who could be cured with the latest drugs. But these Americans are not cured because of the cost, ranging from $26,000 to $95,000 for the drug treatment course. …"Many of these patients will die a preventable early death due to the high costs of drugs and the lack of insurance coverage." Pages 28 and 29, Common Sense: U.S. Health Care at a Crossroads in the 2018 Congress by John Geyman, M.D.

What is our public interest?

It is a political question we have the power to control.

"There is plenty of money in the current system, now more than $10,000 per capita per year which is more than double that spent by most advanced nations with universal coverage to assure access to affordable health care for all Americans." Page 29, Common Sense: U.S. Health Care at a Crossroads in the 2018 Congress by John Geyman, M.D.

The public indignation over U.S. health care is only growing and the real reform will have to come from grassroots pressure. That is the only way to assert the public will.

Bonami von Rumpf


Herbig cares

Rep. Erin Herbig is a strong advocate for working families across Waldo County.

As a business owner in my early 20s, I'm often thinking about how to balance the success of my business with starting a family and remaining in Waldo County. Erin Herbig supports people like me by advocating for affordable childcare and health care, significantly lowering the burden for working families.

It's important to me that my elected officials not only advocate for policies that positively impact businesses in Waldo County, but also put people and communities at the forefront of that legislation.

Erin's Waldo County Works business tour is a prime example of the kind of leadership we need in Waldo County. Her dedication to ensuring that business owners across our county have opportunities to make their voices heard makes me confident that Erin will continue to advocate for policies that support positive growth and development throughout our communities.

Erin Herbig cares about Waldo County, and has proven her commitment to growing our vibrant businesses and neighborhoods.

We need a state senator who cares about the future of our communities. We need Erin Herbig.

Rachel Epperly

Stockton Springs

Capitalism at its very worst

I have lived and worked in Belfast for 28 years. My husband and I have a son born and raised here. I love Belfast. My mind goes to the tradition enjoyed by my family of the New Year’s Eve parade and bonfire, people of Belfast marching together. The current divisiveness hurts my heart.

The jaw-dropping vitriol expressed toward concerned citizens was a red flag to me. It indicated an already “done deal,” and that calling opponents or just people asking questions a “mob” was an effort to choke off further dialogue by intimidation.

Maybe it was a deal to help Belfast, in the councilors’ minds, but it was not a decision of consensus, and it was not a dialogue between those who expressed concern and those who granted no time for valid discussion.

I feel the council has been duped out of water rights, perhaps unknowingly, something we should have seen coming, and were too trustful to monitor.

I see no effort to control the amount of water the aquafarm factory can have, when limits to the water have been reached, and people’s wells start to go dry. Protection is removed from the conversation.

What happens to aquifer water rights if this company goes under or is sold?

I saw no notification of citizens of Belfast who do not use city water, but instead have wells (like me).

I saw this deal go down in the complete vacuum of Belfast, when water use and discharge will affect our neighboring towns.

I see “facts” from the fish factory shifting all the time. Food source, discharge composition, sludge disposition. Somehow fish are seen as a clean enterprise, fostered by very slick marketing. How is this different from a pig farm operation? Isn't it a glorified sewage plant?

I see an office in town that can only mean they have resources to sway opinion (propaganda, anyone?). They are spending money in very calculated venues. Marketing something not even approved? Deception can be very diplomatic.

I do not want valuable natural resources, the only True Wealth of our area, to be exploited for corporate greed. Capitalism at its very worst.

I want to see that the people of Belfast, marching together in a parade, are protected. I want our resources protected. Water is our Wealth, Water is Life.

Eileen Wolper


Regulators use science, not speculation

Not in My Backyard. Wikipedia defines a NIMBY as "a person who objects to the siting of something perceived as unpleasant or potentially dangerous in their own neighborhood, such as a landfill or hazardous waste facility, especially while raising no objections to similar development elsewhere."

Belfast has had a recent hatch of NIMBYs regarding the Nordic salmon factory. Maine has a vigorous environmental review process that would be conducted before such a facility were permitted. In addition, federal CAFO regulations would apply. Let's let them do their thing ― the regulators use science, not speculation.

In the U.S., the farmers and fishermen make up only about 1 percent of the population. Given this, some concentration of production is inevitable.

The thing that we need to pay attention to is the waste stream from the factory. If designed and managed properly, wastewater would be treated before discharge into the bay and bio-solids could be safely land-applied and be a benefit to local farmers.

David Greeley


Not food for the masses, after all

My concerns about the city of Belfast welcoming Nordic Aquafarms remain, despite the PR campaign both city officials and NAF have been waging.

Why risk increased pollution of Penobscot Bay by a for-profit company with very little experience? NAF incorporated in Delaware in 2014 and has not seen a successful harvest of farmed salmon yet.

Aquaculture as an industry is noted in Wikipedia to be the fastest-growing food industry in America. And salmon, which comprise 13 percent of farmed fish production, are estimated to bring in 34 percent of the "value" of all farmed fish. Bingo. Money. Not food for the masses, after all.

Why here? Why is Belfast, Maine, the best place on earth for this experiment? Well, in Norway, NAF is permitted for 2,200-ton annual production and in Belfast, they are requesting 33,000 tons annually ― to start at half of this tonnage, Erik Heim stated, but this is still over 10 times what has been permitted in Norway. And it looks like they believe they will get it.

And interestingly enough, there are no regulations and special permitting "snags" here in Maine. In Nova Scotia, where the only two operating RAS facilities for full growth salmon are housed, there is currently a Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture, recently updated to include a very conscious section on public participation and transparency. Quoted from their website: "These regulations contain new checks and balances to ensure that new aquaculture development happens where it makes sense based on scientific evidence."

Who will regulate NAF in Maine? The Department of Agriculture!

If aquaculture is the fishing grounds of the future, certainly its development here deserves to be the "largest community conversation" before we agree to the "largest land-based fish farm in the world." There is a lot at stake: our environment, our water, our world.

Meredith Bruskin