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Facing the threat from fossil fuels
We've been reading a lot about "bomb trains" since the Lac-Mégantic disaster, in which much of the city's downtown was destroyed and 47 of its citizens were killed. But not much has been said about how a process called "stabilization," in which the most volatile hydrocarbons are drawn off the crude oil before transport, might have prevented this tragedy.
This technology, used in Texas for years, is only now being brought on line in the Bakken oil fields, where the Lac-Mégantic train originated. Still, federal law does not require it, and energy producers in the area claim it is unnecessary.
Then there are – BP's commercials to the contrary – the ongoing problems of the terrible Gulf oil spill, which are still far from resolved. Yet despite this, President Obama has opened the waters off our Atlantic Coast to oil and gas operations, even as he insists on the need to reduce atmosphere carbon from the burning of fossil fuels. Five hundred thousand American jobs and whole populations of marine life are placed in jeopardy.
From the coal industry's fouling of the Dan and Elk Rivers to the July ruling by a Colorado judge striking down the town of Longmont's fracking ban, declaring that the state's economic interests superseded local citizens' concerns for their health and safety, there is a stunning pattern in which the government appears to favor corporate interests over the health and safety of Americans. Just who are our elected officials working for? Why do they seem uninterested, unable, or even afraid to protect us?
The steady news of spills and explosions killing Americans and poisoning our water may seem like background media noise, but land and water are not inexhaustible resources. It is only a matter of time before some oily or gassy tragedy comes calling on us. If we do not bring our effective political force to bear on our government to refit our state and nation with clean, renewable energy, we will be complicit in our own tragedy.
It is we who need to decide whether we or the fossil fuel industry will become dinosaurs.
Reacting fairly to climate change
On our news blog on reactions to the plan to regulate Lake Ontario water levels:
Trying to address Great Lake water levels highlights the need to address environmental imperatives and how to compensate "victims."
As addressing climate change will force us (our governments) to make our life-support system sustainable, we must find an economic way to make these regulations that will impact some folks unevenly (say, Great Lakes shoreline property owners) more palatable.
Trying to restore Great Lakes levels is only one of the measures that will have to be taken as we adapt to more extreme weather and climate, which will always impact a special few. This doesn't mean we have to sacrifice these special few each time we trying to make our life support system viable.
We as a society should find better ways than creative destruction (let the chips fall where they may) to humanely address sometimes drastic environmental regulations.
We don't have to supplant our moral system with our economic system. We can address environmental concerns without creating victims, who will naturally do anything to protect their own interests. They will form influential groups, and we'll have a shitstorm instead of a solution every time critical environmental regulations come up.
FRANK J. REGAN
Reacting to Ferguson
The behavior of the people in Ferguson is shameful ("The Ferguson Warning," Urban Journal). Even more shameful is the attitude of those like the author who seem to feel that this is a problem of white racism. It is not. The problems in the black community will only be solved once we realize that race hucksters sowing an attitude of injustice hides the real problems.
Rioting and looting aren't going to give anyone a good feeling toward you or erase and negative stereotypes. You can't force someone to like you. If you want to be liked, be likable; if you want to be accepted, act acceptably.
Looting and rioting is the only voice a people have when they have felt devalued for too long. The media is focused on the riots, while the loss of life of a human being gets headlined on page 2. Anyone with a sense of decency can't condone the riots. The bigger issue is that the pot that was placed on that back burner is now angrily boiling over: racism.
Generation Y and Z don't want to march and demonstrate in order for white society to value them. We did that 60 years ago! It did not work. A true, authentic conversation must be had, because the younger generation faces an anemic economy, education being taken over by greedy corporate interest, and a horrifically unjust justice system. And they are desperately taking matters in their own tired hands.
Applying the principle of "inherent human goodness," I reject diabolical motives on the part of anyone involved in the tragedy in Ferguson, Missouri. The relationship between the community and those charged with its peace and safety has always been a complex and tricky issue.
I believe that the community and the police have more in common than they have differences. The upshot of this messy and tragic Ferguson affair will be an earnest examination of this relationship. In the meantime, I don't believe it's wise to play the attractive but futile game of "be your own armchair judge and jury." I'd rather do something to reduce human suffering here in Rochester.