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CDT readers question authority, democracy and more: Letters to the Editor

Map of Sunoco’s Mariner East Pipeline project.
Map of Sunoco’s Mariner East Pipeline project. Sunoco Pipeline

‘Is this America?’

Ellen Gerhart, a 63-year-old retired special education teacher, grandmother, and property owner is sitting in jail for protesting an unwanted Sunoco Mariner East pipeline on her land. Judge George Zanic, Huntington County, PA, not only granted Texas-based Energy Transfer Partners (parent company of Sunoco) eminent domain rights, but also sentenced Ellen to two to six months in jail and fined her $2,000 based on concocted accusations from this same company.

This is what our Governor, legislature, judiciary, and Congress are subjecting our fellow citizens to: Give up your property and individual rights so corporations can profit and PA can become an energy exporter OR be arrested, charged, and imprisoned for monitoring and protecting your land while these companies commit violations, contaminate your water and air, destroy habitats, and suffer nothing but temporary shutdowns and inconsequential fines.

Ellen Gerhart is in jail because of fabricated charges made by a company that has been surveilling her and her family, denied them full access to their property, and has caused damage and destruction to their land. But, who has been charged and sentenced??? According to our elected politicians, we are the criminals.

See PA Senate Bill 652 and the senators who voted for it. We pay the taxes, steward our land, and industries can take whatever they want and cause irreparable harm with virtually no consequences. If we protest, we are charged, sit in jail, and are fined – Is this America??? - Ellie Salahub, Lebanon Pipeline Awareness

‘War on climate change’

Earth is bringing a new type of weather. We are seeing - and feeling - oppressive heat, massive storms, killing drought, wild forest fires, and torrential rains. Our climate is entering an era of extreme weather never seen before. Flooding cities, species extinction, and melting ice caps are no longer predictions but actual events.

Claims that this is just part of a natural cycle are true, however, this time the natural cycle is caused by humans. Scientists reported as long ago as the late 1800s that the industrialized burning of coal would alter our weather. We can all see our weather is changing.

It is a natural fact that carbon dioxide gas comes from burning of coal, gas, and oil during chemical combustion, and no matter how hard we try, denial will not change Mother Nature. By turning our backs and pretending that extreme climate change is not happening we are all fools complicit in the destruction of the good and beautiful things our lives depend on.

People should be afraid. A bit of fear is a healthy response to the threats we are facing from climate change. Shortsighted policies do not help. Withdraw from the Paris Accord does not help. Sucking oil and fracking gas as fast as possible is not helping. Delaying the switch to renewable energy is rejection of help we need now.

Johnson declared War On Poverty. Nixon declared War On Drugs. Someone must declare War On Climate Change. - David Roberts, Bellefonte, PA

Democracy is temporary?

Democracy is one of our nation’s many concerns today. In 1787, Alexander Fraser Tyler, a Scottish history professor at the University of Edinburgh, noticed a continuing pattern in the advance and decline of the world’s democracies.

“History tells us that democracy is always temporary in nature. A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves largesse from the public treasury with the result that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy, always followed by a dictatorship.

“The average age of the world’s civilizations has been 200 years. These nations have progressed through this sequence: from bondage to spiritual faith; from spiritual faith to courage; from courage to liberty; from liberty to abundance; from abundance to selfishness; from selfishness to apathy; from apathy to dependence; and finally from dependencee back into bondage.”

Upon reading this quotation from Tyler, I feel after all the things that are happening in our country today, I hope and pray we are not heading in the direction of a dictatorship! - Marty Warner, State College, PA