Monday, July 25, 2016     Volume: 30, Issue: 52
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Weekly Poll
Should we tax marijuana?

Absolutely—tax revenue is one of several benefits that will come with legalization.
Yes, but taxes should be lower or zero for medical marijuana patients.
No—I don’t want the tax-and-spend government profiting off my marijuana.
Absolutely not—it’s a drug, and it’s a shame that it’s becoming so acceptable.

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New Times / Letters to the Editor

Vote to support education

Pam Estes - Paso Robles -

As a parent, my first thought when it comes to voting for my representative is education. I need to know that my children are in good hands when I’m not with them, and that the people I help send to the Capitol care about their chances in school as well as their ability to get a job later in life.

This is why I’m voting for Jordan Cunningham. I’ve seen firsthand how much work he puts into making sure our kids grow up in an environment that supports success. He is a school board member who works to make sure that parents’ investments are paying off. He also volunteers as a coach, helping to make sure kids are active and motivated, while teaching them the values of competition and sportsmanship.

With all the problems in the state, I have no reservations about sending Jordan Cunningham, a father of four and proven leader for this community, to Sacramento. I know that no matter what problems come up, he will always keep his focus on how those laws are going to affect our children.


More upgrades for cats!

Heidi McElroy - Los Osos -

I was so happy to hear that Woods Humane Society will be remodeling, making it easier for them to do more for homeless cats in our area (“A ‘catio’ of one’s own,” July 14). They do so much for homeless animals and deserve all the support they receive. My thoughts, though, are with the cats at Animal Regulation, right next door. They are in cages 24/7 and never see the light of day. The building is decades old, drafty, and in severe need of upgrades.

I’m hoping something can happen for this facility sometime soon. It is no longer just a place where unwanted or stray animals are taken to be euthanized. Animal Regulation does so much for them while the animals reside there, awaiting their forever homes. I hope someday soon to hear that they will get their day for upgrades and renovations!


Diesel particulate matter and explosions

Sam Meyers - Orcutt -

While I continue to maintain a neutral stance on the Phillips 66 project, I know enough about both the petroleum/refining industry and the railroad industry to know misinformation when I see it. In Natalie Risner's letter in New Times' July 14 issue ("Oil trains are too much risk for our county"), she raises a couple of valid points. However, the statement about diesel particulate matter is largely inaccurate and shows a lack of understanding about the freight railroad industry in general. I suggest she and others concerned about diesel particulate matter do research on Tier 2, Tier 3, and Tier 4 locomotives. The info is out there on the internet. I know Union Pacific has Tier 4 compliant locomotives on order for delivery this year. And she fails to mention an obvious reality: There are more cars, pickup trucks, and tractor trailers, and their emissions, on the local roads than ever before.

Let's also not forget oil trains already do go through San Luis Obispo and have for the last 15 years or so, two to three times per week. They run at night so very few people ever see them, which might be why there are those who continue to deny they even exist.

Lastly, the statement "massive damage up to a half mile" from an oil train derailment in this area is highly questionable. Seriously, that would depend on the type of oil being carried in the tank cars and where it is from, though it's probably based on oil trains carrying Bakken crude oil, an oil that wouldn't be delivered to the P66 refinery. The volatility of crude oil could be determined by its API gravity rating. For example, the current oil trains going through SLO are carrying heavy crude oil with a gravity rating of 14 or less, a far cry from most Bakken crude oil, which has a gravity rating of more than 31.


It's not if but when with oil train derailments

Madeline Palaszewski - Los Osos -

I attended the protest rally against the Phillips 66 rail spur project on Saturday, July 9. The mayor of Mosier, Ore., Arlene Burns, spoke about the derailment of an oil train in her small town in June. 

According to the Associated Press, federal investigators blamed Union Pacific Railroad, saying the company failed to properly maintain its track. As she told the crowd on Saturday, it’s not if there will be another derailment, it’s when.

This project has many glaring health and safety issues and a long list of organizations that oppose it based on these issues. From increased air and noise pollution to the very real possibility of a catastrophic derailment and explosion, this project is designed to benefit a few and could harm thousands of our citizens. The oil processed in Nipomo will be exported to Asian markets!

I ask our elected officials to protect us from this dangerous project. Please do what is right for San Luis Obispo County and all of the other California communities along the project’s tracks and vote no on the Phillips 66 rail spur project.


Atomic power is necessary

William Gloege - Santa Maria -

People hear about global warming, but few understand its dire threat to people.

A natural level of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the earth’s atmosphere traps just enough heat from the sun to enable earth to support life, around 200 parts per million among all atmospheric gases.

Around 1870 in the Industrial Revolution, mankind began burning wood, oil, coal, and gas for energy to run machines. That burning started increasing the CO2 in the earth’s atmosphere.

Today CO2 is at more than 400 parts per million for the first time in man’s history. NASA and many scientists say that is much too high, and too much of the sun’s heat is being trapped in our atmosphere.

Even small increases in global temperatures can cause abnormal changes in earth currents of air and sea and other natural processes. Those changes, in turn, affect rainfall and droughts, which can reduce our food and water supply.

The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says we need to greatly reduce the burning of fossil fuels like natural gas, coal, and oil to keep earth livable for our children and grandchildren.

Many people falsely believe wind generators and solar panels can do this job, but wind now accounts for only about 4 percent of our total U.S. energy and solar accounts for 0.4 percent, which isn’t even half of 1 percent. We can’t scale those up fast enough to stop global warming, say scientists like James Hansen and top Google engineers.

Power from the atom offers hope. It creates no CO2 and is 20 percent of our energy output today. With proper funding, it can be increased to levels that could stop global warming increases. It may be expensive, but what is the value of our children’s and grandchildren’s future lives?

The U.S. Navy has had such success and safety with atomic power that 100 percent of its largest ships, like submarines and aircraft carriers, are now powered by safe atomic reactors.

Tell your Congress person, Senator, and county supervisors you want your family to be safe from fossil fuel pollutants and you want your energy from the atom.