Letters: What Do You Think?

Construction Unions Don’t Jump at Every Building Project

The presumption in “Short-Term Jobs vs. Open Land” [July 29, 2010] is that building trade unions blindly support any project regardless of the consequences for the environment. Nothing could be further from the truth.

We have operated for over 100 years in an industry that constantly adapts and responds to the needs of society and the economy. That experience has taught us that short-term jobs are no substitute for long-term sustainable economic growth. In today’s economy that includes sustainable energy and environmental policies.

That is why unions have embraced green building and the switch to alternative energy sources. Both here in Massachusetts and across the nation, America’s building trades unions are at the forefront of legislative, financial, media, grassroots and coalition efforts to promote alternative energy initiatives, including wind, solar and bio-power.

In Massachusetts, unions and our contractor partners have been the lead proponents of cost-effective performance contracting methods to enable municipalities to do energy retrofitting of public buildings. Unions have also dedicated millions of dollars to adapt our state-of-the-art apprentice training programs to meet the needs presented by these new technologies.

To answer Stephanie Kraft’s question, “Can the building trades unions learn not to go to bat for every project, large or small, that involves building?”, we have learned that lesson years ago and are leading the way to teach others.

Daniel D’Alma, President
Pioneer Valley Building Trades Council

Olver and Shakespeare

In response to a response (see Letters, July 29, 2010): I happen to agree with Mr. Bennett that we spend far too much on foreign wars, but that does not excuse the immorality of saddling generations born and unborn with unnecessary debt so that some people now can have a subsidized evening of highbrow entertainment and so that our spendthrift Congressman Olver gets his picture in the paper. What a swell guy! Shakespeare has endured for centuries without earmarks. If we had $300K lying around, it might be a worthwhile expenditure.

John P. Saccavino

Dispersants Made Gulf More Toxic

There was a recent report on Countdown from a whistleblower inside the Environmental Protection Agency. He confirmed what many environmentalists had testified about the use of dispersants in the Gulf: that they were used to cover up the volume of oil spilled and to limit BP’s liability. The dispersants, as studies have shown, created a much more toxic situation by mixing with the oil. The whistleblower also said that if they hadn’t used the dispersants, they could have cleaned up most of the oil from the surface without its reaching the shores, further poisoning marine life and killing fragile ecosystems.

He said the EPA had studies from Spain and Israel documenting the toxicity of the dispersants and their ineffectiveness. These studies were ignored. He also said that the order to let BP take charge came from someone outside the EPA in the U.S. government.

Now 200 million additional gallons of highly toxic material are in the Gulf, contaminating ecosystems and habitats which, by ceding power to BP, the U.S. government failed to protect.

When it comes to protecting the environment, it is important that the people in charge of oversight have the right priorities in mind. Due to the level of corruption in government agencies that oversee oil companies, it might make sense to create an independent agency which has an established track record of advocating for environmental protection to decide the fate of the earth in situations like this in the future.

Amelia Shea
Peterborough, N.H.

World Peace Begins With Soul Peace

I wish to encourage the America government to end its war in the Middle East.

Bishop Fulton J. Sheen (1895-1979), one of the most remarkable Americans of the 20th century, once remarked: “Unless souls are saved, nothing is saved; there can be no world peace unless there is soul peace.” Indeed, the Kingdom of God is within each and everyone of us. And this is where the battle for peace is truly fought. It will never happen in Iraq, Afghanistan or anywhere else where there are killings taking place, for violence begets only violence.

Bishop Sheen once said that three things are necessary for peace: the subjection of the passions to the intellect, the subjection of the body to the soul and the subjection of the whole person to God. Once these are achieved, we become cleansed of past sins and safeguarded from committing future sins of selfishness, greed, lust and pride.

Paul Kokoski
Hamilton, Ont.

Northeast Biodiesel Not Wood-Fired

Northeast Biodiesel is breaking ground on its new community-owned fuel facility in Greenfield. This renewable energy project will produce 3.5 million gallons of clean fuel per year, 13 green jobs, and an estimated $45,000 in tax revenue for the town. However, this clear benefit to the region is suffering a bit in the shadow of the Madera Energy biomass proposal.

People are very confused! Any time the words “bio” and “Greenfield” are uttered or printed, it’s assumed the topic is Madera Energy’s wood-burning power plant proposal, to the point that people have expressed to me how disappointed they are to hear that Northeast Biodiesel is launching. But this project has nothing to do with the Madera Energy proposal in Greenfield.

Biodiesel is a clean-burning liquid fuel, and when made from recycled vegetable oils, as this facility will do (this is set in stone in the business plan), its carbon footprint is at least 80 percent better than diesel made from petroleum. Besides being compatible for use in school buses, tractors, cars, and generators, it can be used in lieu of home heating oil in a typical oil burner. Northeast Biodiesel’s majority owner is a consumer cooperative, Coop Power, whose members live here. It’s not owned by venture capitalists from elsewhere.

So if you don’t support massive biomass power plants, Northeast Biodiesel is something you can support. More info about how you can get involved and become a member is at http://www.cooppower.coop.

Erik Hoffner
Coop Power volunteer board member

Author: Our Readers

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