Commentary

LePage: NRCM Should Meet with Me to Create Jobs for Mainers

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Last week the executive director of the Natural Resources Council of Maine was outraged about a letter I wrote to their donors. But instead of responding directly to me, she decided to grandstand.

I sent a letter to Lisa Pohlmann, who is the face of the Natural Resources Council of Maine, and a couple hundred of its donors. I explained that 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.

The job-crushing, anti-business policies of NRCM are preventing Mainers in rural towns across our state from getting the kind of jobs they need to raise themselves out of poverty.

Maine has traditionally balanced the stewardship of our environment, while also ensuring that our people have 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.

All Mainers are concerned about the environment, and we all agree we must conserve it. Having worked in the forest industry for decades, I understand and appreciate the need for sustainability and a clean, healthy environment.

I doubt Lisa Pohlmann knows how I feel about the environment—and I’m sure she has no idea how long I worked in the forest industry. But she railed at her press conference last week that I am the most anti-environmental Governor of the past 40 years.

As I have stated repeatedly, I am not against the environment. Maine’s scenic beauty, including our pristine lakes, rivers, forest and ocean, is the best in the nation. However, we cannot keep saying “no” to any economic activity that would allow rural Mainers to prosper. We cannot let them wallow in poverty with no way out.

So I have written another letter to Ms. Pohlmann. I invited her to meet with me to discuss how we can work together to conserve our environment while allowing the economic development that will create good jobs for Mainers.

I’m not talking about short-term jobs for workers to install a couple of solar panels on your neighbor’s roof at our expense. I’m talking about long-term, good-paying career jobs for Mainers that will lift them and their families out of poverty.

If the Natural Resources Council of Maine really wants to help the Maine people, Ms. Pohlmann should let us know what kind of permanent career jobs her organization will find acceptable in rural Maine.

About Paul LePage

Governor Paul LePage (R) has served as the 74th Governor of Maine since 2011. Prior to his time as governor, LePage served as the general manager of Marden's and as the mayor of Waterville.

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