Friday, July 26, 2013

Foreboding Echos

I infrequently agree with viewpoints offered by George Smith but when he’s so completely on the right train track as he was in July 17th’s column, reinforcing his concerns, opinions, and questions should compel many to add greater citizen voice to his message.

In his column, Mr. Smith addresses concerns about trains carrying oil through our towns; he lives in Mount Vernon and I live in Readfield. Not only are these under-regulated and under-staffed trains lumbering through Maine communities in exponentially rising numbers but the larger questions he raises about the energy directions we truly ought to be pursuing and how we ought to really be investing security resources are key considerations that people, officeholders, and our professional public servants in Maine and this country need to be asking and addressing.

That Lac-Mégantic and its surrounding environment is so similar to many small towns in Maine makes the horror of this disaster delivered by low-regulation, skimpy safety margins, inadequate equipment, and most of all our oil dependency addiction, traumatically and immediately relevant. The very train that wiped out a town center and so many lives was headed to Maine to transit our towns and our precious environment. Many more trains are still crossing our state carrying an exponentially growing volume of unrefined oil and exponentially growing potential risks.

It used to be our family found the late night lonely whistle of a train rumbling along Maranacook Lake and through Readfield Depot a bit enchanting and a reminder of an earlier era when my grandfather worked a lifetime for the Bangor & Aroostook Railroad. Now that same sound imparts a far more foreboding and troubling echo.

The above post was published as a letter to the editor in the July 26 Kennebec Journal.

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