Obama must reject Keystone pipeline for good of the country
President Obama has all the trappings of a reformer, but none of the reformer’s true mettle. Whatever he said about climate change during his inaugural speech were just empty words.
Since then, the State Department came out with its sham environmental assessment and concluded that the bitumen, or tar sands oil, will have no impact on global warming. That is basically a lie, and is in keeping with all the television commercials meant to brainwash us into believing that tar sands will be great because it will create jobs and help us achieve energy independence. And, of course, it can be extracted in a very Earth-friendly way.
The facts tell another story. First, tar sands oil is nothing like the sweet crude oil that comes from the Middle East. In order to separate it from the sand, it needs to be mixed with a number of toxic chemicals and treated with steam to soften it. The refining of tar sands oil requires three times the energy used to refine normal crude oil. Because the substance is so corrosive, pipelines transporting it leak all the time.
Part of the Enbridge Pipeline carrying tar sands oil from Alberta to Midwestern refineries leaked over 700,000 gallons of crude into Michigan’s Kalamazoo River in 2010, and the 200 acres of the river are still contaminated with the hardened crude.
Originally, TransCanada, the company that will be profiting from the sale of this oil, touted the creation of 100,000-plus jobs in the United States if this pipeline were to be approved by the president. The environmental report states that the pipeline will create under 5,000 temporary jobs.
That the pipeline will help us achieve energy independence is another piece of propaganda. As far as fossil fuels are concerned, we import 40 percent of our oil. The number used to be 60 percent, but the president has overstated our move toward energy independence. Besides, even if we could exploit all the reserves of oil within our borders and along our coastlines, it would be a bad idea because the carbon and other gases emitted from burning all that dirty fuel would only speed up climate change rather than slow it down.
We can’t have it both ways, like our smooth-talking president would want us to believe. We can’t burn that dirty Canadian oil and cut carbon emissions at the same time. This is why the Keystone XL Pipeline must not be approved by the president.
Parties, not the people, control the politicians
A March 7 letter, “Politicians should be loyal to their public before their party,” makes an excellent point. What most citizens are unaware of is that once individuals are elected, they are controlled by the party of their choice.
We all hear when someone is running for election, what they will do for us once elected. Many promises are made, and I believe that in most cases the ones doing the promising are very sincere. However, they soon find out that despite the promises, they will do as they are told by those in leadership positions, or they will get nothing accomplished.
Despite whatever legislation they introduce to fulfill their promises, those pieces of legislation (bills) will never get out of committee to be voted on because the chairs of the various committees have almost complete control over what goes to the floor for a vote.
In other words, play the game, do what you are told and then maybe down the road, he or she will have a role to play that may make a difference. The size of the office space, the number of staff, the choice of committees is not something that he or she has any control over. So they learn very early to play the game.
We hear the advice to “vote the incumbents out” if they do not work on behalf of their constituents, but we rarely do that because the party they belong to will go all out to get them re-elected, and most of us are just too trusting and naive to realize how we are being influenced, so history gets repeated.
I do believe the only answer to getting the things done that need to be accomplished is to get rid of them all, but I do not believe that will ever happen.
Marilyn R. Wessels
Rexford Bridge unsafe for anyone not in a car
I am writing about the incredibly unsafe conditions of the Rexford Bridge for bicyclists and pedestrians. I am a 16-year-old three-season runner for the Niskayuna track team, and I ride my bike to practice from my house in Alplaus.
The conditions of the sidewalk on the bridge are unfit to ride a bike on. The pavement is crumbling, uneven and narrow, and even has rebar sticking out. I’ve almost had the rebar puncture my tire. It has clearly not been maintained in a long time. If there was more of a shoulder on the road, this would not be a problem, but I was once nudged by a car that brushed my handlebars when I tried to ride on the shoulder of the road instead.
In addition, in the winter, runners and walkers can’t use the sidewalk because it is completely covered with snow from plows.
It’s better for the environment for me to ride my bicycle to practice, and pedestrian use of the bridge should be encouraged for everyone.
I know the bridge is supposed to be replaced at some point, but I hope that the state Department of Transportation can fix this problem in the meantime.
Birds are all around, in places where it’s safe
In response to Clif Tygert’s March 5 letter questioning where the birds are: I’d like to respond that bird activity has been very good in the Capital Region this winter.
In addition to all the regular resident birds, red-breasted nuthatches and common redpolls are visiting many area yards for the winter.
Most likely, some change has taken place in Clif’s neighborhood or in his own yard. Perhaps the habitat has changed, such as trees cut down or development in the area. Another possibility is that there is a predator in the area, such as a small hawk or an outdoor cat.
Cats prey on birds (as well as other wildlife) and can keep birds from using bird feeding stations where they don’t feel safe from predation.
The writer is co-owner of Wild Birds Unlimited Nature Shop.
Removal of town clerk was politically motivated
Re March 3 letter, “State court made right call over Van Woeart”: I read with interest Deputy Town Supervisor Norman Miller’s comments in the Gazette concerning the recent case involving my client, Michelle Van Woeart.
Mr. Miller’s references to the dog case from three years ago demonstrate precisely what I stated in my published comments to the Gazette: The actions against my client were politically motivated.
One has to note that simply because the Town Board was found not to have acted in an arbitrary and capricious manner does not mean, by any measure, that it acted in the best interest of the residents of Princetown.
Indeed, removing the most knowledgeable person from a position she held since 1985 was a disservice to town residents. The Town Board could have just as easily removed the purported incompatibility of positions by resolution. But again, it chose to remove my client based solely on political reasons.
The residents of Princetown should know that they have a hard-working and respected jurist in Michelle VanWoeart. And that the actions of the Town Board majority in creating the situation which forced a legal challenge have clearly demonstrated not only a lack of basic fairness but have shown them to be petty, vindictive and not deserving of the trust placed in them by Princetown residents.
Stephen G. DeNigris
Mayor Johnson shows his scorn for democracy
Mayor Scott Johnson was quoted in The Saratoga Wire calling those who spoke at the public hearing Feb. 26 “basically the same old cast of characters.” The mayor continued: “You know, bring me somebody new that I can actually believe in. Don’t parade the same people to me on the same issue again and again. It has no effect.”
The mayor appears to be saying: “Send me people who think like me. When I want your opinion, I’ll tell you what it is.”
The mayor’s comment reminds me of ancient Rome’s autocratic emperor Caligula, who did not gladly entertain conflicting views. Caligula, according to history, suffered a bad end, but not, sadly, before indulging the public’s and his own blood lust.
Thanks, Mr. Mayor — the same ol’ cast of characters who came before you at the public hearing were simply your fellow citizens advocating for America’s precious democratic process, which traditionally has been nurtured by bipartisanship — negotiation and open discussion.
None of the public hearing speakers announced their party affiliation, nobody pushed a partisan agenda. Mr. Mayor, do you truly see these people, who are faithful to the core values of democracy, as just “the same old cast of characters?”
Please consider that these “characters” stand in a long line of distinguished patriots like John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Lyndon B. Johnson, Ronald Reagan and Barack Obama.
These folks are on your side, Mr. Mayor — you should be on theirs.
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