I’m writing to make donors to Natural Resources Council of Maine aware of this organization’s true intent. While everyone supports a healthy environment, NRCM is doing it at the expense of good-paying jobs for rural Mainers who are desperate for employment.
It is easy for out-of-state visitors, residents of wealthy coastal towns and those living in Southern Maine to support the perceived policies of the Natural Resources Council of Maine. Since this group of donors enjoy low rates of unemployment, nice homes and neighborhoods and thriving and successful businesses, they may be unfamiliar with the harsh crisis facing rural Maine, especially in Northern and Downeast Maine.
The job-crushing, anti-business policies of NRCM are preventing rural Mainers from getting the kind of jobs they need to raise themselves out of poverty.
NRCM is the chief supporter of the preservationist movement that is holding Maine back. The organization has blocked reasonable mining regulations that would provide high-paying jobs to rural families in Northern Maine; promoted unilateral executive action to establish a national monument—even though several local communities have voted strongly against it—that would eliminate hunting and timber harvesting from thousands of acres; and has proudly blocked any significant hydroelectricity development over the last 40 years. These policy decisions have contributed to the decline of the manufacturing base that has been an anchor for rural Maine and has employed generations of sportsmen and women.
Maine has traditionally balanced the stewardship of our environment, while also ensuring that our population has economic opportunity. This balance is vital to providing opportunities for prosperity to rural Mainers. If we support economic development at the expense of the environment, we will have a natural disaster. If we support the environment over economic development, we will continue to have severe poverty.
NRCM is not interested in a balance. It is an activist group that says “no” to every opportunity to allow Mainers to prosper, and it is working to make rural Maine a national park virtually devoid of human activity or meaningful employment. I would request that you carefully review NRCM’s policy positions before donating to them in the future.
You may not realize that your financial support of NRCM pays for a lavish office building that is just a block from the State House—a short walk for its highly paid lobbyists to push their anti-business agenda on legislators—while residents in places like Calais or Millinocket or Mars Hill cannot afford even modest, middle-income homes. NRCM recently spent your money to rent buses and transport activists from Southern Maine to a meeting in Orono to push for a national monument in the Katahdin region, something the Legislature and town after town in rural Maine have voted to oppose.
Folks in rural Maine have neither the time nor the resources to attend these meetings or travel to the State House and lobby for the good jobs they need.
NRCM should not be leading the charge to deny life-changing economic opportunity to poverty-stricken people in rural Maine.
I understand and appreciate your desire to support Maine’s environment and precious natural resources. However, please understand that your financial support of NRCM is costing rural Mainers good jobs and keeping them mired in poverty. I urge you to ask NRCM to take a balanced approach that both protects our environment and provides prosperity for the people who live in it. I firmly believe human life is the greatest asset on this planet.
Paul R. LePage