Thursday, August 18, 2011

Fox in the hen house, part 47

It's been a slow summer for political outrage in Maine. We had the winter of our discontent, with the Governor's various outrageous actions (saying "kiss my butt" to the NAACP, getting rid of the labor mural in the dead of night, attempting to bring back BPA, wanting to open up 3 million acres in the north woods to developers). We had the spring of the lobbyist, with the Governor's special adviser and lobbyist for the fireworks industry writing successful legislation to legalize same, and the appointment of the chemical industry's chief lobbyist as acting commissioner of the Department of Environmental Protection. Now the other shoe has fallen in the Department of Conservation.

I remember wondering in December when Bill Beardsley was appointed Commissioner. He had spent 23 years as President of Husson University and by all accounts had done a fine job there. The questions came from his years as head of Alaska's energy office and as a power company executive, and from vaguely remembered political positions - for offshore drilling, for more nuclear plants, for Industrial Wind, not to mention believing in creationism and paving over vernal pools - publicized when he was running for governor. But he's not been in the news, until now. Now the fox appears: he's working on an inventory of Maine's natural resources, all of it, pure drinking water, minerals like uranium (!) and gold, hydro- and tidal power, granite, wind, anything that can be exploited.

He claims it's just a tool to assure balanced use of resources. Almost worse, he calls it an "almanac." If I weren't so worried about its obvious potential mis-use, I'd rail about this insult to the English language, this cynical throwback to some Yankee state of heaven. For now I'll just say that Maine's current administration has little respect for the land or for the passion and intelligence of its inhabitants, and resolve to watch Mr. Beardsley closely.

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