Valley News Forum for March 12, 2023: Is greed our goal with train regulations?

Published: 3/12/2023 6:12:14 AM
Modified: 3/12/2023 6:12:14 AM
Is greed our goal with train regulations?

Railroad executives are among the highest-paid in the country the president of CSX made $16 million plus stock options this year.

Yet during the Trump administration, the former Obama safety regulations including improved train braking systems as well as environmental protections regarding toxic chemical spills and clean air and water were gutted. Trump had the indecency to go to East Palestine, Ohio, to comfort the locals, never mentioning his deregulations or the low wages for rail workers and their dangers.

According to Trump and the railroad executives, these safety measures are just too expensive ... might even affect their exorbitant salaries ... as would paying the workers better wages. Republicans say they’re for the working man while they lower taxes on obscene salaries and mega profitable corporations. And worse than that, they’re putting profits before safety. (Need I remind you of gun legislation?)

I recently had the happy experience of catching the Vermonter from Claremont! I was slightly daunted when I arrived and saw an Amtrak sign but no station and no trains. After a bit, two delightful good Samaritans arrived, each wearing yellow jackets saying “Train Host Volunteer.” They quickly assured us the train would arrive and possibly on time.

One man brought out two stools as he said the step to the train was high. They both instructed us that we only had 90 seconds to board! It’s wonderful in this day and age that people who love the trains will assist at no salary.

In the meantime others care less about trains and people ... only about profits. Reminds me of Fox News executives admitting they lied about election fraud to keep their viewers and advertisers. Is this the America we want? Is greed our goal?

Sally Prince

New London

Nuclear waste transport a risky endeavor

Last week a freight train bound for Vernon, Vt., derailed. Fortunately, it was empty. The train was on its way to the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant to pick up a load of radioactive waste bound for Andrews County, Texas.

Two years ago, a 12-axle tractor trailer carrying empty nuclear waste casks ran off the road and crashed in Andover, Vt. It too was headed to the Vermont Yankee site in Vernon.

It is fortunate that neither incident involved actual nuclear waste. The recent train accident in East Palestine, Ohio, has brought the issues of deteriorating infrastructure and less than effective regulatory oversight into clear view for our country. All the industry and Department of Energy planning involving thousands of shipments of high-level nuclear waste moving across the country for decades is ill-advised.

We need to invest in hardening waste storage at nuclear sites around the nation and adequately supporting the host communities with resources and security for the foreseeable future.

Chris Williams

Hancock, Vt.

VSU students losing more than physical books

Our world is now one of distraction. We want our news in sound bites and answers to questions immediately after we ask Google. We are slaves to our machines and a beep indicating a text or email can, immediately and rudely, draw our attention away from our family, our friends, and the book open in front of us. How much more distracting is it when that book is digital?

Concentration is critical to retention. Many studies have determined that “for most students, print is the most effective way to learn and to retain that knowledge long-term,” according to an 2021 op-ed by Naomi S. Baron in the Los Angeles Times. Online education during COVID was a disaster even for students with reliable internet access, which we know is not a given.

The Vermont State University is making a mistake to divest itself of much of the physical collections in its libraries.

The VSU president claims this move will save $600,000 of the $5 million in expected cuts this year. What is the cost estimate of the investment needed in digital licenses for online access? How much will those costs rise in the next five years? Who will be determining what physical materials will remain in the libraries, the concerned faculty? The public is owed an accounting. And the university must take into account the effect of this move on the quality of education the students will receive.

A university worthy of its name (and of the honorable name of Vermont) should support its libraries with both a strong physical collection and staff that can be discerning and trustworthy guides to its resources, whether in the hand or online.

Susan DeWitt Wilder

Johnson State College ’78

Davis, N.C., and Perkinsville, Vt.

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