Beware of the newest invaders

Beware of the newest invaders

Our land is being invaded, not by a foreign army but by a domestic one. The invaders will take all that they can from the earth and then move on to fresh lands to conquer, leaving desolation in their wake. Our water will be poisoned, our soil contaminated, and our air polluted. They will no longer be able to support life as we have known it.

I am referring of course to the “Drillers” — the so called “frackers” — who are scalping Mother Earth, poking her full of holes, and injecting toxic chemicals in order to steal her buried treasures of oil and natural gas. I realize that the lure of quick and easy money is hard for most of us to resist, especially in these financially challenging times; but we must remember that we cannot eat money, drink oil, or breathe natural gas.

If the primary responsibility of government — local, state, and federal — is the safety and well-being of its citizens, then our government, at all levels, has been shirking its responsibility. Not only has it been collaborating with the “enemy,” but it has been welcoming it with open arms. Government should be phasing out fossil fuels as a source of energy, and putting on a fast track the transition to renewable and clean sources — solar and wind.

Greed and ignorance are in the saddle now, and they are riding roughshod over us and our land. Either one of these alone is dangerous enough, but together they make a terrifying and destructive combination.

Bill Whitehouse, Youngstown

Energy brings prosperity today

The Vindicator article “The building that was supposed to change the face of Youngstown” did a great job enumerating the promises made to the Mahoning Valley over the years. It also did a good job of explaining what the NAMII tech initiative is and the amount of government approvals needed for it to go forward. It sounds modern and exciting and filled with good things for the Valley. But I am not going to get too excited yet because we have heard it all before. In an election year, talk is cheap.

I am a bird-in-the-hand kind of person. One thing this area has already is a burgeoning natural gas industry regularly pumping huge amounts of money into the Valley. More importantly, it’s happening in the private sector. The promise of natural gas, coal, and even oil for our Valley is real. Energy is the future of our country’s economic success. It is the future of our Valley’s success.

The current administration is hostile to fossil fuels. Obama’s EPA is destroying the coal industry in Ohio counties along the river, in West Virginia and western Pennsylvania. It is doing it by decree overriding the express wishes of Congress. Fracking is next on the list. You just won’t hear it until after the election.

Now is the time to pull out Reagan’s adage, “trust but verify.” President Obama is the master of telling you to look over there, not over here. Over there is this wonderful technological initiative that requires numerous government agencies approval and budget processes to fund it. Over here is the energy industry funded by private money and is the foundation of a new pipe mill on the Mahoning River and rising local bank deposits. All of us hope that NAMII happens. It is a revolutionary technology. But at the end of the day, the success of the project will rest on its own merits. If it is as strong as they say it is, it will transcend politics because leaders of both parties will want on the bandwagon.

This election we should be looking at only one thing. Which candidates will help or hurt the energy industry in the Mahoning Valley? That’s our future.

Atty. Mark G. Mangie, Youngstown

An ill-advised and cowardly tax

We are becoming such a polarized and divided nation between those who feel the government has a right to take more and more of the property (the earnings) of private citizens, and those of us who feel we can make much better decisions on the use of these funds than our government can. This unfortunately plays out both nationally and locally.

Commissioners McNally and Righetti quietly brought back their plan to impose a 66.7 percent increase in the local bed tax rate for our county’s hospitality industry (yes, raising the bed tax rate from 3 percent to 5 percent is a 66.7 percent increase). They quickly voted to adopt it and begin collecting it barely six weeks from now. What is even more outrageous is that placing this significant added burden on the ability of this local private industry to successfully compete for business in our region was done under the guise of providing more government funds to “promote economic development” in our area. Gosh, if our politicians are truly in favor of “economic development,” they should help our existing businesses to maintain and improve their existing viability — not compromise their ability to compete and be successful.

I applaud Commissioner Traficanti for opposing this confiscation of additional funds from these local small businesses. This new tax burden will require these private owners to reduce their own profit margin in order to stay competitive within the region. That means, over time, less money available than their competitors to re-invest into their own properties. Less money available to keep their rooms attractive and modern, and less money to pay those who work for them.

The commissioners can arrogantly impose this added tax without much vocal opposition because their constituents will rarely if ever rent rooms in local hotels. Let’s say the commissioners tried to instead impose a 66 percent increase in the local sales tax rate. Do you think there would be public outrage? Sure there would.

Paul Witkowski, Canfield