Letters to the Editor February 28, 2017

Greed is industry’s problem, not laws


“Even with a united government in 2017, it will be an uphill climb to roll back the damage done by this [Obama] administration.”

That’s Republican Rep. (and Christian Scientist) Lamar Smith, who chairs the House Science, Space and Technology Committee, talking about environmental/fossil fuel regulations. This guy was put in charge of science, but as a loyal oily Republican from Texas, he denies all science. He’s a Christian Scientist, though. That must be why he got the job.

Fifty-two years ago, in 1965, President LBJ informed Congress of his Science Advisory Committee’s Report on Pollution of Air, Soil, and Waters, saying, “This generation has altered the composition of the atmosphere on a global scale through radioactive materials and a steady increase in carbon dioxide from the burning of fossil fuels.

“Pollution now is one of the most pervasive problems of our society. With our numbers increasing, and with our increasing urbanization and industrialization, the flow of pollutants to our air, soil, and waters is increasing. This increase is so rapid that our present efforts in managing pollution are barely enough to stay even, surely not enough to make the improvements that are needed.

“If we are to manage our pollution as we should, we must give more or nearly the same attention to how we dispose of our waste materials, as to how we gather and transform our raw materials. Society must take the position that no citizen, no industry, no municipality has the right to pollute.”

Newly discovered company documents show that in 1977, Exxon’s own research scientists warned company executives that carbon dioxide was increasing in the atmosphere and that the burning of fossil fuels was to blame.

But instead of using the big brain god or evolution gave them to find a remedy to the problem – you know, like for the common good – they took the low road and covered it up and then proceeded to obstruct preventive climate/environmental policies and regulations on their industry. The oil industry spends hundreds of millions of dollars lobbying annually.

Exxon Mobil ($11,840,000) and Koch Industries ($9,840,000) are the top two lobbyists and polluters. The toxic Koch brothers via ALEC have been fighting rooftop solar tooth and nail, as has Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Energy in Idaho, Oregon, Utah and Wyoming. Pure greed. The Tea Party’s “Conservatives for Energy Freedom” is all for solar!

And now Rex Tillerson, retired CEO of ExxonMobil, who has a long and sordid history of defying and undermining American interests around the globe for Exxon (“I had to do what was best for my shareholders.”), will be taking over as Secretary of State, America’s leading diplomat.

Will/can he suddenly become American’s No. 1 patriot? Can a leopard change its spots? Will he bite the hand that has fed him for 41 years?

Back to Rep. Lamar Smith: “President Barack Obama pushed an aggressive climate agenda, sending shock-waves through the energy industry in Texas and beyond.”

Give me a break. Aggressive? Not enough. All we’ve ever asked is that you take responsibility of the negative consequences of your very toxic industry. Why wouldn’t you want to be a good neighbor and wipe your behind?

These free-market guys go on and on about how regulations stifle competition and innovation, but I say greed is the limiting factor.

Greed is what keeps these industries from reinvesting a percentage of their profits into making safety improvements and innovations that would make regulations -unnecessary. Greed and that belligerent ‘No-one-tells-me-what-to-do!” attitude.

Regulations are a challenge, nay an opportunity, to an industry to be better.

Diane Daiute

Sweet Home

Now is time to contact legislators


With legislative sessions in full swing, it is vital for rural constituents to contact legislators regarding issues that affect our communities. Here are some simple tips for calling your legislators.

Before contacting your legislator, take five minutes to visit their website and learn about their party affiliation, their background, and their stances on your priority issues. This research will help you craft a message that appeals to shared values.

Next, prepare two or three talking points that outline why your legislator should support your stance. If you want to talk about renewable energy, for example, legislators might be interested in economic benefits, environmental benefits or public health benefits. It is helpful to write out your talking points ahead of time.

When you call your legislator’s office, you will likely get a staff person. It is still worthwhile to speak with staffers. Introduce yourself and tell the legislator or staffer why you are calling. Start with a personal story or value statement, then use the talking points you prepared. End with a request for your legislator to support a bill or take a stance on an issue.

Finally, remember to be confident, courteous, brief and passionate. Even if you disagree with a legislator’s position, do not resort to name-calling, swearing or threats. End by thanking your legislator so you can continue to build your relationship.

Contact [email protected] to tell us about your policy priorities or advocacy actions you are taking.

Stephanie Enloe

Center for Rural Affairs

Lyons, Neb.

Editor’s note: We’ve been tight on space in recent issues of The New Era, but when we have room, we plan to once again publish our “Contact Your Government Representatives” guide with local public officials’ names and contact information.