A former history teacher, Tom is a columnist who lives in Lovell, Maine. His column is published in Maine and New Hampshire newspapers and on numerous web sites. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Name: Tom McLaughlin
Tuesday, July 22, 2014
It’s always easier to organize against something than for something. My experience in two big “against” campaigns were both kind of fun for me as a young leftist/liberal. We could easily portray ourselves as the good guys stopping bad guys from ruining our lives. The first was against a highway through our neighborhood in Lowell, Massachusetts in the early seventies and, the other was against a nuclear waste dump under our town in Maine during the late eighties. We won each after only a couple of months of hell-raising and I learned much. You can tell a lot about people by what riles them.
In rural western Maine where I live, many people have gotten worked up the past few years about Poland Spring selling water out of the aquifer under the towns of Fryeburg and Denmark. Most residents of those towns have their own wells and worry that Poland Spring may pump too much causing the water levels in their wells to go down. They imaging their situation as ordinary people each with a small straw drinking from a big bowl and then a giant sticks a huge straw into the same bowl and starts sucking enormous amounts of water. Their fears don’t seem completely unreasonable given that big aquifers out west have declined because of large agricultural and industrial users pumping out more and more water. The underground aquifer, or “bowl” if you will, is constantly being replenished by rain, but will that keep up with increasing demand? Then I think of Sebago Lake. Unlike Fryeburg’s invisible aquifer, it is a huge bowl of water visible to everyone and supplies Greater Portland. I never see it go down unless it’s done intentionally by the Portland Water District or others adjusting its outlet dam in fall. It seems like there’s more than enough clean, fresh water in Maine for everyone.
Last summer a dog jumped on a bird at a beach in Scarborough, Maine and killed it. That’s what dogs will do, but animal lovers in that southern Maine shore town have been up in arms for a year over it. On one side are bird lovers who are appalled because the bird was a “piping plover” which is “endangered” according two the state and “threatened” according to the federal government. On the other side are dog lovers who like to let their animals run free on southern Maine beaches mornings and evenings. First it was the bird lovers and greenie federal officials who prevailed on the town council to pass a town-wide leash law. Dog lovers flipped out and overturned the council’s action by referendum. Bird lovers then got the council to pass more limited restrictions. At this writing, Scarborough animal lovers are still fighting each other.
My level of concern in this matter can be measured in units of micro give-a-sh**s. If I had to pick a side, it would be for the birds. Unleashed dogs on southern Maine beaches mornings and evenings outnumber children, and they’re annoying. But then millennials in the Greater Portland, Maine area would rather have dogs than kids. Children would cramp their lifestyle and increase their “carbon footprint.”
Next door in South Portland, Maine, green weenies are all worked up because they don’t want Canadian oil to coming into town through the Portland Pipeline. Even though tankers have been unloading oil there and safely piping it north to Canada since 1941 or so, greenies in South Portland insist the pipeline cannot safely reverse flow and bring Canadian oil south. They’re part of a wider, nationwide, green weenie movement that wants to leave petroleum in the ground. They want us all to put up wind mills and solar panels, and if we can’t ride bicycles, then drive Priuses as a last resort. They’ve successfully pressured President Obama to block the Keystone Pipeline for the same reasons. They’re knocking on doors to scare people about “Tar Sands Oil” ruining our environment and causing global warming.
Canada will sell its oil to China and India if they can’t sell it to the United States. Even if you believed that humans cause global warming (which I don’t), stopping any of these pipelines won’t reduce carbon in the atmosphere that purportedly causes warming. It will only hurt us because we’ll have to get our oil from much more volatile places like Venezuela and the Middle East. Greater Portland’s green weenies lost a referendum to stop importing Canadian oil last winter, but they’re still pushing. South Portland’s City Council enacted a ban on exporting crude oil from the city and that is likely to trigger still another referendum.
And on it goes.