Despite his bombast, or maybe because of it, Paul LePage is leading in the polls to become governor of Maine. It’s not his bombast that worries me, however. Indeed, his outbursts could enliven things in Augusta and be fun to watch – sort of.
What troubles me are his attacks on environmental policy and his inability to make the connection between a protected environment and Maine’s economy. His support of oil drilling off our coast and his contention that we are “ripe for a nuclear power plant” have been well publicized, but there is more.
Consider, for example, his opposition to the Land for Maine’s Future program (“You can’t harvest timber, you can’t do any cutting” to create wealth). Or his contention that clean air and water regulations should be the responsibility of the Department of Agriculture, not the Department of Environmental Protection. Or as he said in an MPBN debate: “I think the environment is important. However, I think private ownership begets good stewardship.”
I hope his Democratic opponent, Libby Mitchell, will point out to LePage that the state Office of Tourism values tourism as a $10 billion to $13 billion industry in Maine, luring 44 million visitors yearly, and is our biggest job engine by far. It’s a safe bet that many if not most are here because of our spectacular landscape,our specially protected places, our clean air and water. That’s right, the “good stewardship” that Paul LePage decries.
Gordon A. Glover