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Letters from readers for the issue of June 20, 2014

Cure for voter remorse

As a supporter of Commissioner Henry Heimuller in the May primary, I was doubly disappointed by the dismissive attitude shown by Commissioners Heimuller and Earl Fisher towards citizens concerned with ever-increasing rail shipments of crude oil through the most densely populated areas of our county. As reported in the June 13 issue of the Spotlight, Commissioner Heimuller appeared not only condescending but clueless when he asked a speaker, in apparent seriousness, if there would be any difference if a car and a horse trailer collided with a log train versus an oil train. The speaker pointed out the obvious fact that a log train lacked the potential to explode and destroy half of the town. Heimuller then bent over backwards in an apparent attempt to miss the point entirely: he suggested that any type of train collision would cause serious damage to a car and horse trailer.

Heimuller says he’s been invited to serve on a state task force on rail safety. Rather than increasing the odds of a catastrophic rail disaster in Oregon, might I suggest he take a remedial class in common sense instead?

Heimuller has demonstrated why The Spotlight endorsed Wayne Mayo as the candidate with fresh thinking and new ideas. Perhaps Mayo would be less inclined to jeopardize our future and the future of our community for the sake of corporate profit. The run-off election in November offers a rare opportunity to cure voter remorse. I urge you to join me in taking advantage of it.

Fool me twice, shame on me.

Jeff Campbell


Consider the cost

We live in a burning house. Sadly, we keep throwing oil on the flames.

My vision for our precious Columbia County, with its rivers, forests, farmlands and villages, includes protecting the beauty, the sustainablity of what the earth has given us in abundance.

I think many in this county and certainly in this state, nation and on this planet would agree that we have long outgrown the need for more heavy industry, pesticides, herbicides, guns galore, whose costs we have never considered and are now in a time of containment for the very survival of our bees, our food, our water, our soil, indeed, for the very survival of a planet capable of sustaining human life.

I could cite the rush to profit by corporations and detail some of the deceptions by those who would exploit our people and our land. But the evidence has been hashed over and over in meetings and hearings across the county. I could bemoan the lack of public awareness, a public unschooled in sciences, and deceived by flashy media, the seduction of jobs, jobs that will disappear as soon as the Bakken field dries up — and it will. But evidence and moaning seems to matter little to change the course of madness.

We live in a burning house. What to do? Be kind. Be thoughtful. Educate yourselves. Speak up for the land, the trees, the rivers, the air. Do what you can. And find peace inside.

Mary Duvall


Endorsement gave us away

Excuse me for noticing, but, this paper did endorse Wayne Mayo for Columbia County commissioner. How could anyone reading the opinion page not notice?

Mr. Mayo, most of his relatives, in-laws, outlaws and anyone else that could be scared up that could write a letter extolling Mr. Mayo’s almost superhuman effort on behalf of mankind has been published in this paper.

I am of the opinion that if it sounds too good to be true, it most likely is. I don’t believe it is Mr. Mayo’s “turn.” One look at his website and it becomes clear that Mr. Mayo should at least consider that using the timber card for jobs for Columbia County has been around since the ‘70s. It has not been viable for sustainable employment since the 1970s.

Henry Heimuller is trying to move Columbia County into the 21st Century.

Is he perfect? No.

But we must move forward, not look to the past for answers to make Columbia County viable in this century.

Liz Scott


Republicans and selective memory

Regarding Nancy Reed’s recent letter concerning the exchange made to return Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, I am forced to reply and counter her clearly misinformed and inaccurate understanding of the nature of Bergdahl’s release (“Bergdahl should have been left behind,” June 13).

Ms. Reed makes statements like, “Clearly, there is no doubt that he (Bergdahl) deserted his post.” I believe that the military court that would decide one way or the other has not yet begun, and yet Ms. Reed and her foolish conservative representatives are ready to “hang the traitor” without even so much as a trial.

Her demand that Congress act swiftly and punish our president begs the following question: Where was her anger when President George W. Bush released as many as 500 detainees, some of them far more dangerous, and where was her outrage as Bush went even so far as to undercut military prosecutors by sending two British men, both captured by U.S. Armed Forces, back to England, despite plans to try them by military commission?

And let us not forget Bush’s release of Osama bin Laden’s chief bodyguard and longtime confidant, Ab-dul-lah Tabarak, who remains free to this day.

I think it is fair to say that Ms. Reed and her conservative base were not in the least bit concerned or troubled by Bush’s many indiscretions, but are of a whole different mindset because of their blind hatred towards the current occupant of the White House.

Fred Adams


More to the oil tanker story

Scappoose is a small town built on the rail line to a major deep water port on the Columbia River in Oregon. Bakken crude is now shipping in long unit trains through our placid community.

While the transloading has contributed some jobs at the end of the line, the very real danger brought to the forefront by the explosion in Lac-Mégantic, Quebec, last summer is not lost on us.

According to a Wall Street Journal report in February, Mississippi crude off-gasses, creating a reading of 3.3 psi. Arabian light sweet vaporizes at 4.7 psi. Bakken crude vaporizes at 8.6 psi and, according to a lab tech at Tesoro, has been read as high as 12 psi.

It is the evaporation rate — the fumes — that create the explosion that’s happened a number of times now beyond Lac-Megantic.

In my correspondence with the National Transportation Safety Board, they have made it clear that their priorities for communities like ours is emergency response and environmental cleanup — not combustibility nor explosiveness. This is the wrong order of things.

Lac-Megantic saw an explosion diameter of 1.2 miles.

The vaporization or evaporation of the product in transit needs to be fully addressed, far more than the minimalist “new pressure relief valves.” The cars need to be painted white. Sloshing needs to be minimized. A double tank, possibly with the addition of a rubber bladder sealing off the product, needs to be considered.

It’s my hope that full comprehensive upgrades in safety will come now while the industry is flush with cash and before more lives are taken.

Wayne Mayo