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Newsday letters to the editor for Monday, Oct. 23, 2017

President Donald Trump tosses paper towels into a

President Donald Trump tosses paper towels into a crowd as he hands out supplies in Puerto Rico on Oct. 3. Credit: AP / Evan Vucci

Coal brings toxic mercury into food

Newsday highlighted President Donald Trump’s tweet regarding his termination of the 2015 Paris climate accord [“Tillerson denies rift,” News, Oct. 16].

I don’t remember any good reason for his action other than his pro-coal stance and wonder whether it was prompted by contributions to his presidential campaign by the coal industry. I’m a Republican who cannot believe that our representatives have difficulty accepting global warming and scientific explanations.

However, there are further problems associated with coal. When I was a young man, I learned of the acidification of the lakes of New England by emissions from coal-fired power plants, and not long after that about the mercury in tuna. In time we learned of the increasing mercury in our oceans and fisheries.

Mercury is naturally contained in coal, and an estimated 40 percent of the mercury that eventually finds its way into fish, whales, shellfish, etc., originates with coal-burning power plants and chlorine production plants. Mercury is now in our food chain. There are many island people who depend on fish for protein, thereby increasing mercury concentration in their bodies. Some also eat whale. Coal is a hazard.

The president has little to brag about regarding the termination of the Paris accord. Will the Environmental Protection Agency act on violations to the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards of 2011 and Clean Air Act of 1963 and amendments through 1990?

Robert Schweitzer, Mount Sinai

Paper-towel toss was humiliating

As an American of Puerto Rican descento, my heart sank and my anger soared as I watched in horror how the president humiliated fellow Americans in Puerto Rico by throwing paper towels to the crowd as a gesture of support [“Premature praise in Puerto Rico,” Editorial, Oct. 4].

Why not just pour salt in the wound? The indignity of such an act has no place when people have lost everything. Lives and livelihoods were lost.

I am mortified. Dignified and empathetic President Donald Trump is not. He could never relate to the devastation experienced by my family in the mountain area of Barranquitas and the rest of Puerto Rico; he should have taken a limo there and observed firsthand how my family worked together to clear the roads of trees, electric poles, mud and other debris.

To say that they are waiting for the government to do everything for them is despicable.

Vilma E. Matos, Northport

Editor’s note: The writer is vice president of the National Association of Puerto Rican Hispanic Social Workers.

Jones Act opponents are corporations

Ted R. Bromund’s op-ed about the Jones Act read more like something written by a lobbyist than a senior research fellow at The Heritage Foundation [“Jones Act illustrates a folly of policy,” Opinion, Oct. 12].

The Jones Act requires goods shipped between U.S. ports to be carried by U.S.-owned and operated vessels. The law has little to do with the problems faced by Puerto Ricans, which stem from the effects of the catastrophic Hurricane Maria and a crumbling infrastructure, especially in the countryside, that have been ignored by the Puerto Rican government for decades.

Three U.S. vessels filled docks of San Juan harbor with cargo within days of Maria, and many other U.S. ships and tug-barge vessels were ready to meet the needs of the island as room on the docks became available. The problem was that cargo could not be moved inland. Many trucks were destroyed, drivers could not get to work, and roads were impassable. This is not a Jones Act issue.

The anti-Jones Act efforts are driven by the corporate concerns of the agricultural conglomerates and the oil industry that use these vessels to transport cargo to market. Storm-stricken Puerto Rico is not their cause, but it was an opportunity to take another bite at this apple.

Lou Bettinelli, Brightwaters

Editor’s note: The writer is president of Interport Pilots in Port Monmouth, N.J., which provides water transportation services.

I’ll take Smithtown’s quiet character

Regarding the Newsday editorial board’s endorsement of Edward Wehrheim [“For Smithtown supervisor,” Editorial, Oct. 16], I’m not envious of more developed areas like Patchogue or Babylon. If I were, I’d move there.

I have no use for four-story apartment buildings, just a love for a quiet relaxed town such as Smithtown.

For Wehrheim, I have a piece of advice: Keep it a quiet, laid-back place to live. The world is way too hectic, and there’s no need to join the madness. If you should be tempted to change the character of Smithtown, you’re going to be out in four years.

Jerry Davenport, Smithtown