With the gubernatorial election coming up on Nov. 6, we wanted to know more about the environmental stances of the four candidates.

In interviews this month, we asked them whether they believe in climate change, a question so basic that it caused some to do a double take. “Is that the question?” one said, eyebrows raised.

It’s relevant because Gov. Paul LePage was elected in 2010 as a climate change skeptic, scoffing at “Al Gore science” during a debate, and he almost immediately put a halt to the state’s efforts to develop a climate change adaptation plan that had begun under Gov. John Baldacci in 2009.

We wanted to know what the 2018 candidates thought of government infrastructure restructuring under the LePage administration, including the creation of the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry by merging two previously distinct departments, Agriculture and Conservation. We asked about their support for departments like Environmental Protection, Marine Resources and how the prospective governors would address the needs of Maine’s agricultural enterprises, particularly small ones under economic pressure, such as blueberry farms. Other topics of discussion included local pesticide ordinances, alternative energies and the health of Maine’s waterways.

We also asked each candidate to talk about a formative personal experience that shaped their approach to environmental and sustainability issues. We’re presenting these interviews condensed and lightly edited, but mostly in the candidates’ own words.

Terry Hayes answers a question at an Eggs & Issues forum in Portland on Oct. 3.

TERRY HAYES

PARTY AFFILIATION: Hayes served in the legislature as a Democrat but is now an Independent

CURRENT POSITION: Treasurer of the state of Maine

RESIDES IN: Buckfield

Where do you stand on climate change?

“Yes I believe it is real and that humans have a part in it. I’m not convinced that we can stop it at this point. That doesn’t mean we can’t mitigate the harm to some extent by changing our behaviors.

“It’s coming and we need to prepare for it. It is going to have a significant impact, not only on our coastal communities. It changes the landscape, it changes the fisheries, it changes forestry and forestry practices, all of these pieces that have been fundamental aspects of Maine’s economy. And we can see some of it starting already.”

She cited the apparently vanished Maine shrimp species and the frequency with which Maine is seeing extreme storms as tangible evidence of coming changes that will become much more apparent to Mainers. “And in a short amount of time.”

“It changes the landscape around any of those industries that are natural resource-based. And since that is our brand, that is how people see us – even though there are lots of people in Maine that don’t directly work in our natural resource-based industries – it is what attracts people here. It is our gift, if you will, and we have to figure out how to care for it at a time when we don’t exactly know necessarily what is coming.”

Has it been frustrating, serving in state government while climate change has been all but ignored?

“Once the response was known, it wasn’t going to change. So I guess I would say, I adjusted my expectations. Frustration is unmet expectation. It isn’t that I came into alignment or agreement with the current administration at all. It just means I didn’t expect anything different. We missed some opportunities, clearly, but I didn’t have any control over that. I am seeking to have some control over what happens next.”

Can you elaborate on those missed opportunities?

“Education is the big one. Education is the baseline of preparedness. If we reject the data, then we can’t teach from the data, and data is the best way to inform us on prediction, which is speculative by definition. The more prepared we are, the less disruptive it will be. That is the key component. From a policy perspective, we haven’t even talked about it because it wasn’t going to go anywhere. All our efforts got thwarted. When the Legislature wanted to put some money up to study it, they had to get past the governor with the two-thirds (vote). I think that was very, very, very shortsighted. Some communities are having the conversations on their own, absent state leadership.”

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Like Portland and South Portland, which are addressing sea level rise, as well as other sustainability measures, like passing pesticide bans? This spring, the LePage administration tried to pass legislation that would have overridden those local bans, and now the Farm Bill includes a similar override.

“You got it. As Maine’s next governor, I don’t want to tell Portland what to do. I want to come in and learn from what they have been doing, and other coastal communities that have already sat down to study what to do, and then scale that up. I don’t come at this like, ‘I’ve got a plan and if you all just line up behind me, I’ll march us to the right direction.’

“Some of the success that we are having in our agricultural communities is precisely because there is more local control. We’re seeing a growing passion around those issues and outcomes locally, which I think we should encourage.”

What could you do to help struggling farmers, including blueberry farmers? The price farmers have been getting for Maine wild blueberries is at a 30-year low; many are having trouble hanging in there.

After a similar question was posed to her by a wild blueberry farmer at a candidates’ forum in Machias, Hayes said she “felt ignorant” and called Nancy McBrady, the executive director of the Wild Blueberry Commission of Maine, to learn more.

“I think I understand the challenge, which is competitiveness right now and the fact that the smaller growers see themselves as disadvantaged because the larger farmers have their own processing (plants), and have expanded. And they have land in Canada and that land is coming into production.” (those farms have been heavily subsidized by the Canadian government “and that has been the case forever.”) “The broader picture is that worldwide, the demand for the small wild ones has diminished. The challenge here is to find a way to add value, other than freeze. What else can we make with these and how do we find ways to process them that can be scaled up?” The Maine wild blueberry is “a little gem, that are like pop rocks in your mouth.”

“I went and looked up their (the Wild Blueberry Commission’s) financial position. And they used over a half-million of reserves last year. That is not sustainable.” Hayes said McBrady told her backfilling from the general fund would help the commission. Hayes would consider that; she sees marketing as key. “A half a million dollars is not a ton of money. That is important to know. That is a place where a half a million dollars would make a difference for research and new product development.” Hayes said she is still researching the issue. “I don’t have a silver bullet to throw at it, but I have learned more about it. I describe this as, I have been majoring in Maine for 60 years and this is my Capstone project.”

What about alternative energies? The current governor has opposed wind and solar power projects. What are you for?

“Solar has been partisan. What is most intriguing to me is the underwater ocean currents in and out of the Bay of Fundy. To me that is fascinating. It has probably been three years since I looked at it up close, but to me that (turbines that harness tidal power) is something we could put in our rivers, our big rivers, and it may freeze on the top but it is flowing below. You just go with the flow. I am not saying that is where I want to invest, I don’t have enough information. The sun is a valuable (energy) source. We need all of this mix, and I don’t have a winner to pick at this point. Maine may have jumped the gun on onshore wind projects. We maybe rushed at that a little faster than we should have.”

What shaped your environmental outlook?

When her children were very young, Hayes’ husband worked as a clinical coordinator for New Beginnings in Lewiston, and as part of that work, he went on an Adventure Challenge with the group on a river trip near Jackman. “He came home from that, and he was a convert. He said, ‘There is nothing better than this. We’ve got to do this.’ I was like, ‘It costs too much money, you have to buy all this stuff.’ We didn’t have a canoe or life jacket.”

The family began slowly acquiring gear. Their first trip was in Belgrade, through Messalonskee Stream, with the family of five crammed into one canoe. Now they have four canoes and a trailer to pull them. “I have to lower expectations. We are not guides. We are weekend hacks.” A favorite trip is along the St. Croix River from Vanceboro to Kellyland, a run they do with their now-grown children in about three days. “This is the first summer that I haven’t done the river because I haven’t had the time.” Their children never got a trip to Disney World. “My daughter resents it to this day. But we have paddled most of the rivers in Maine. My favorite part of the (Maine) Gazetteer are the chunks with nothing. I love being someplace where my cellphone doesn’t ring.” Hayes feels like one of (the many) owners of Maine’s public lands.

Janet Mills

JANET MILLS

PARTY AFFILIATION: Democrat

CURRENT POSITION: Attorney General of the State of Maine

RESIDES IN: Farmington

Where do you stand on climate change?

“I believe the science and I believe the scientists and I believe that it was significantly contributed to by human activity, if not caused by human activity. And that we have opportunities to reverse this phenomenon. It is a real threat to Maine’s economy, including everything from the $1.6 billion lobster industry to our tourism industry to our forest economy and agriculture.”

What do you see as taking the biggest hit?

“Several things. You see ocean acidification. There is a report done a few years ago for the Legislature – the thing got shelved – on the impact of ocean acidification on shellfish. The shellfish industry, including lobster and scallops and mollusks, are impacted by that. I am told by the lobster fishermen that the warming water is affecting their lobster fishing right now. Then you’ve got ocean rising, a different phenomenon, also caused by global warming. While the beaches are just as broad and beautiful in Old Orchard and Scarborough and Ogunquit right now, we need to take steps immediately to make these communities more resilient to rising sea levels. Some communities already are. It can be simple things, like when you are building new piers, building them high enough to accommodate rising sea levels.

“As the state’s Attorney General, I have been on the frontlines with other attorneys general nationally, fighting the current (Trump) administration because they are trying to roll back the CAFE (Corporate Average Fuel Economy) standards, the vehicle emissions standards, which are critical to our reducing our carbon footprint and our noxious emissions. Half of our pollution is from transportation sources here in Maine. We can also reduce emissions from other states, and we’re in court and elsewhere in opposing the administration’s rollback of the Mercury and Air Toxics (Standards), which is critical to keep our waterways safe and our fish unpolluted. Airborne mercury is the primary pollutant of fish in our rivers. We’re fighting them for not issuing the Standards for Ground-level Ozone. We are fighting them on appliance efficiency standards and protection of the Clean Power Act. They are suggesting that they are saving jobs in the coal industry. Let me tell you about the jobs in the coal industry; there are 10 times as many jobs in solar and other renewable energies than in the coal industry.”

As governor, would you take steps to restructure some of the state government? Gov. LePage created a single department for Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry. Would you unpack that?

“I don’t know. It depends on who is there really. Conservation has taken a back seat, I’m afraid, to some other programs. Agriculture and Forestry are as important as Conservation, but the main thing about Conservation is the implementation of the Land for Maine’s Future and the failure of this administration to listen to the will and the voice of the people. (Land for Maine’s Future was established in 1987 as a means of funding conservation of Maine land, with voters approving a $35 million fund. It is under the umbrella of this merged department.)

“When it comes to land and waterfront easements and preservation, I hear from fishermen all the time that they are concerned about Commercial Street. That they can’t access the docks and the wharves to get their bait and to land their lobsters. They have a serious gripe with the city of Portland. That is why some years ago the Land for Maine’s Future was amended to include access for commercial fisheries. While I was in the Legislature, we passed the amendment to the (state) constitution that encourages waterfront preservation. But the Land for Maine’s Future commissioner and conservation people are not even allowed to attend the (Land for Maine’s Future) board meetings. So (LePage) has put a real cramp in the Land for Maine’s Future program and by sitting on the bond money, too. That’s a very popular program, and he’s ignoring the will of the people. I will not. I will move forward and fully support Land for Maine’s Future, and support a portion of those funds being directed toward preservation on working waterfronts.

“I like Paul Mercer (Commissioner of the Department of Environmental Protection). I like Pat Keliher (Commissioner of the Department of Marine Resources). They are both very good people. Both departments are somewhat short staffed. There were quite a few changes early on in the administration at DEP (formerly headed by the controversial Patricia Aho) I think Mr. Mercer has made some good hires in the last few years. I can’t say anything too nice about him or he’ll probably get fired. No, honest to God, if the governor thinks I like ’em, they are probably gone.”

Where do you stand on local ordinances that protect the environment, like pesticide bans? Some want to take those powers out of local control.

“I am very concerned about the federal government (doing that). It is in the Farm Bill. Here is what I would do, is meet with Maine’s congressional delegation regularly. The current chief executive – this is my understanding – has never met with the congressional delegation. That is a problem. He has also rejected nearly $2 billion of federal funding for everything from health care to forest legacy money to Alzheimer’s research to colorectal screening money. Who does that? We want to make sure that Maine gets its fair share from the federal government. It is our tax dollars. And when it comes to the Farm Bill, we want to make sure we vigorously oppose anything that would pre-empt state and local ordinances intended to help the state of Maine.”

In what ways would you support agriculture, particularly smaller farmers who are struggling, like the blueberry farmers, or our newer kinds of farmers, like aquaculturists?

“We’ve got all this competition from cultivated blueberry growers in Peru and Canada, and those blueberries are just not as good. Ours are much higher content in antioxidants. We need to kick butt and get out there and tell the world what a good product we’ve got. But we thought potatoes were going to disappear 30 or 40 years ago, because the lime in the soil was dissipating. They made a comeback partly because of diversification and innovation. The fisheries are doing the same with aquaculture. Some of the lobstermen are turning to oyster farming. You go to a fancy restaurant in New York or Washington, and you are going to see Maine oysters on the menu. That is a big potential industry. But I know one new oyster farmer, it took them two years to get permitted by the DMR (Department of Marine Resources). I don’t know if it is because of a lack of staffing or what.

“We could be entirely self-sustaining when it comes to Maine brewers. A goal would be to grow all our own hops, barley and have more malt houses. We need more organic slaughterhouses.”

What about broadband to rural communities? Farmers are clamoring for it.

“You know anybody who says they are going to bring fiber to your home all over the state of Maine is being disingenuous, because we don’t have the money to do this. My idea at first is to support broadband districts in different rural settings, along with co-working spaces, so people can either enlarge their businesses there or work remotely. Then from there, we can work on getting it to the home. The middle mile is the important thing. We need a statewide broadband strategy first of all. We don’t have one.

“I toured Backyard Farms up in Madison. It’s amazing…out in the middle of nowhere. They said they could do that anywhere in Maine. Imagine Aroostook County. We would be the breadbasket of New England, and I’m not just talking about it as a long-term goal. In the Netherlands, they have tons of greenhouses. We could grow broccoli, lettuce, tomatoes year-round. I hate going to the grocery store in January and buying vegetables from California.”

Speaking of solar, where do you stand on alternative energies?

“When it comes to offshore wind, we have the research going on, we have the only floating platform offshore wind prototypes, and we should move forward with that. I don’t like the way the current administration has pulled the rug out from one contract and then another through the PUC to discourage those efforts. The goal is ultimately to bring down the price of electricity in Maine. The governor of New Jersey a few months ago authorized 3500 megawatts of power from offshore wind projects. That’s enough for one-half-million homes. And Massachusetts and Rhode Island are following suit. We have more wind in the Gulf of Maine than anybody else on the East Coast. If we used only 1 percent of that capacity that would be the equivalent of two Maine Yankee power stations. That’s huge. And we wouldn’t need to use 1 percent. We need to consult with the fishing industry and then we need to move forward with that.”

What shaped your environmentalism?

“When my father was U.S. attorney – he was a Republican – he brought the lawsuit that ended the log drives on the Kennebec River. Ralph Nader wrote a book called ‘The Paper Plantation’ (on the pulp and paper industry in Maine, published in 1974). In it, he applauded my father for bringing that lawsuit under the federal Clean Water Act. And then he brought a lawsuit against the Belfast chicken processors for dumping blood and guts right into Penobscot Bay, right into the bay.”

Was that dinnertime conversation?

“Oh sure. And he took those steps sometimes at the risk of his own job. He wasn’t the most popular person in his own party for doing that.

“I remember, growing up when the Androscoggin River had about 3 foot of foam on it. You could just about walk across it. It was really awful. There were four paper mills on the Androscoggin River between Berlin, Rumford, Jay and Livermore Falls and the river was clogged with soot and pollutants, and there was no oxygen. The Kennebec and Androscoggin and Penobscot were among the dirtiest rivers in the country, and I am proud to say that now, they are among the cleanest.

“We still have a lot of work to do to keep those rivers clean and clean them up more. There is a proceeding now before the DEP to reclassify part of the Penobscot River around Millinocket because it is cleaner than ever before and I certainly applaud the Penobscot River Restoration Project, which is a partnership with state and conservation partners to take down two dams and build a fishway on the third dam.

“I hope people will vote for Question 3 (the Transportation Bond issue) on the ballot on Nov. 6, because that has $5 million dollars in it to replace culverts on the upstream tributaries. That will help the fishing industry, it will help sportsmen, it will supply jobs. I know it doesn’t sound very sexy. If you go into The Nature Conservancy’s office (in Brunswick), they have a big map with all of the culverts all over the state that need to be replaced. It is a huge project. They’re drawing down $5 million of federal money to help to do that. It is a great partnership of contractors, tribal representatives, sportsmen.”

Shawn Moody

SHAWN MOODY

PARTY AFFILIATION: Moody ran as an Independent in 2010, supported LePage in 2014 and is now running as a Republican.

CURRENT POSITION: Businessman who began building an auto repair and auto recycling business as a teenager. Today, there are 11 Moody’s Collision Centers throughout Maine.

RESIDES IN: Gorham

Where do you stand on climate change?

“Climate change is here. It is obviously real. The climate has always changed. We need to focus on reducing pollution and waste. We have done a good job of that in America, but I am frustrated that we haven’t done a better job in emerging industrial nations around the world. Like in New Delhi, India, people are choking in the streets. They can’t breath that air.” (Historically, the United States has contributed more carbon emissions to the atmosphere than any other country in the world, including India. It is currently ranked second in the top five world polluters, above India.)

During the primary, Moody answered “It’s mostly, it’s no” when asked whether humans activities are contributing to climate change in Maine. Last week he told Source, “I don’t know if I would say (humans) are the primary reason. But we are certainly part of the challenge that the planet faces.”

What specific actions would you take?

“We will bring back the Governor’s Carbon Challenge.” Instituted by Gov. John Baldacci, the voluntary program brought together companies, municipalities and institutions from around the state, including Bath Iron Works, Oakhurst Dairy and Bowdoin College, to set goals to reduce greenhouses gases. Moody spoke as a small business owner in 2008 at the Governor’s Energy Summit. His auto body business was named an Environmental Leader for its voluntary participation in a program run by the Maine Department of Environmental Protection. “I will lead that charge. We would set voluntary goals on how we would reduce our carbon footprint. We would meet at a big expo. The latest and greatest would all come and display their best equipment. We’d have breakout sessions. I was actually a panelist at some of them, presenting on LED lighting, well it was called T-8 and T-5 then.” The Governor’s Carbon Challenge, he said, “built an incredible incubator of ideas and practices.”

“I am all about reducing waste and pollution. Environmentalism is lucrative. Saving electricity and lowering our carbon footprint, that is what I am going to bring to the governor’s office.”

What measures would you take to help small farmers, including Maine’s struggling blueberry farmers?

“The timing couldn’t be any more perfect; we just went to Wyman’s (one of Maine’s largest blueberry farmers and processing plants). They share the same concerns, because the price has been suppressed. There could be a similar trend as to what happens with the dairy farmer. We spend a lot of money on the seafood industry in terms of marketing, and tourism as well. With the blueberry industry, we could do a better job. They have proven to be a healthy product. We have the supply. I would work with the industry to develop a marketing plan so we can tell the world how delicious and healthy they are. Maine already has a quality brand across the globe. We have our organic farmers. We should help drive that. It is the straightforward capitalistic model of supply and good demand. We don’t want to reduce production, we want to increase sales.”

Are there state departments you’d want to beef up? Are you satisfied with staffing levels at the Department of Environmental Protection or the Marine Resources? OK with the consolidation of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry?

“Specific to the consolidations of those departments, with each department I would target strategically and focus attention where it needs to go. If the Forestry department needed something, then we would make those resources available. If the agricultural community had specific limitations, we would have a small task force that would jump in that would be more nimble and more agile.

“We want to increase the number of members on the PUC – Public Utilities Commission – from three to five.” (The PUC appointed by Gov. LePage has seen considerable turmoil, including resignations, ire from LePage over its decisions and concerns that it skews to the interests of big industry.) We think for a multiple-million dollar economy, we need five people to have more diversity.” As governor, he’d appoint these additional members. “And the legislature has to approve these two new members. One of the new members would be specific to renewable energy. We’d look to the additional commissioners for a balance of expertise and backgrounds so that we can do some innovative work around energy policy. We want an overarching energy policy to start out the administration that creates a predictable and sustainable system. That is what our energy producers want.”

What alternative energies do you support?

“Did you know that we have the largest public-private partnership with Maine Audubon? We put a solar array there. Moody’s did that. We own it. We produce about 75 percent of Maine Audubon’s power through that solar array. You know what is cool? They reached out to us.” (The project was the largest solar array at any Maine conservation agency when it went online in 2014.)

“I am excited about renewable energy across the board. I met with the renewable energy folks (the Maine Renewable Energy Association) last week. We talked about everything from methane gas to solar to wind to tidal, a different kind of hydro. They were all represented, and they were all excited about a new chapter to be written here in Maine. I mentioned having the five members of the PUC, and they said nobody was so innovative, that they had never heard that proposal before. People were outspoken, that we have $160 million that we want to invest. We have $100 million that we want to invest. It was incredible because of the pent-up energy.

“We have to do it thoughtfully and we have to do it sustainably. And would you mind, would you quote me on this? The biggest renewable energy project and initiation is our youth. Because that is our greatest natural resource. And we haven’t been able to tap into it. We need to be keeping the young Mainers here so they can develop skills and go into trades with high compensation and upward mobility.”

What shaped your personal awareness of environmental issues?

“My experience with weatherization. I was working six or seven days a week at my shop behind Shop ‘n Save in Gorham. I was living in one room at the time, paying $25 a week, so I decided I will fix up a room in the garage and save that $100 a month. That first winter I lived there I heated it with kerosene. The toilet would be skimmed over – I don’t want anyone to feel bad for me. I was just that conservative. I would go without to save money. That fall I insulated it and put in a heating system and it was a lot more comfortable and cozy.”

Moody also cited his connection to ReVision Energy, which worked with Moody’s Collision Centers on the Audubon array: “When I talk to Phil Coupe and Fortunat Mueller (ReVision’s co-founders), the one thing they say is they have no problem in getting help, because young people want to participate in something that is environmentally sustainable, and they are anxious to work for companies like that.

“I am a fiscal hawk and a very conservative person, so we adopted lean practices within our organization to reduce waste. We were able to generate revenue from our waste systems. We were doing that 20 years ago.”

You’re a car guy. What is your take on electric cars? Would you drive one?

“I drive a pickup truck because we are general contractors. We work on all electric vehicles, which are extremely technical and take a lot of training to work on. We have the capability. Our business is able to do that because we have workforce training. I don’t think any of the other candidates have practical experience. They talk about it, but I don’t think they have any experience.”

Alan Caron

ALAN CARON

PARTY AFFILIATION: Running as an Independent

CURRENT POSITION: Environmental and economic activist

RESIDES IN: Freeport

Do you believe in climate change?

“Yeah, yeah yeah… There is no scientific debate. There is only a political debate. So let’s be sure we understand the difference between the two. It has become a deeply partisan topic, and it never should have been. It would be nice if we had state leadership with a vision, that isn’t trying to bring us backwards and that isn’t inherently destructive. He (LePage) has been enormously destructive. Everybody has been thrown into a defensive mode for seven and a half years. He has inserted his own ideology over the recommendations of people who know what they are talking about, and over votes from the voters. It has just been astonishing.

“I don’t know how you can plan for the future without accounting for climate. When I see a big economic plan that doesn’t account for climate, I just dismiss it. We cannot be building a new prosperity in Maine if we are blind to climate change. It is affecting lobstermen already. You were hearing the first early edges of it. Lobsters are moving north at four miles a year. This is huge problem. We have lost cod fishing already. It used to be the dominant fish species. Part of it because of overfishing and in part because the water is too warm. The sooner we get on top of it, and realize that all species are moving north, the better. When I was a kid, we didn’t have turkey vultures in Maine. It was considered a southern bird. We didn’t have possums. They are just leading edges of all species moving north. Including humans – we need to be ready for this deluge of people.”

One of the LePage administration’s early acts was to merge departments and create the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry. Many people say the department is too large and unwieldy. Would you consider restructuring?

“That umbrella is too large. It is too large, and I would take a hard look at reorganizing that part of government. I say often in talks that we all want change to happen and we all have a different definition of that change, but we should have learned from the LePage experience to never elect someone as governor who hates government. Because what will happen is what has happened over the last seven and a half years, a series of horrible mistakes, all brought about for the wrong reasons and usually without much thought. If your objective in life, is to, as Republicans have said, to make government small enough so that you can drown it in a bathtub, don’t be surprised if the elderly people suffer, if the environment suffers, kids in need suffer. These are all errors of ideology over common sense. I would take a hard look at that. It is an odd combination. What is the connection? Oh, land? That’s it. What are the logical connections? One is charged with essentially protecting land, the other is charged with making it economically profitable.”

What about staffing at places like the Department of Environmental Protection. Would you beef it up?

“A lot of good people have left. Others are hiding in their offices, afraid to act. The same phenomenon is happening at the national level now. You have people that not only hate government, they don’t care much about the environment. It’s all about profits and money. There is no sense of balance, and so, be careful what you elect. Who you elect. It is a tragedy that we have lost a generation of talent from state government on issues vital to our future.”

What shaped your environmental outlook, growing up in Waterville?

“I lived on the south end of Waterville, and that part of the geography is an area where two rivers combine in a long peninsula. About 3 miles from our neighborhood we had two swimming holes on the Messalonskee side, which is not polluted. We had five big gravel pits that we climbed in, where we somehow managed to make games of it. There was a big dam that we played in a lot, catching crayfish, and we just had a ball. So a lot of my experience, even though I grew up in a neighborhood of a city, it was on the edge of the wilderness, and we had a big “Our Gang” group – we would leave at 7 in the morning and come back at dark. We would grab some Wonder Bread and minced ham sandwiches. We lived in the wild. Perhaps the most important thing to me was that my aunt and uncle had a fully functioning farm in Augusta where I would go some weeks in the summer. They had 10,000 broilers, 30 to 35 milking cows. My job was to lay on the back of the bailer and pull the hay out. They also both worked two jobs at the Edwards Mill in Augusta. I often joke that in those times, if you didn’t have two jobs, you were considered to be a slacker.”

Where do you stand on the issue of local ordinances designed to ban pesticide use or promote other environmental issues?

“The LePage administration tried to pass legislation statewide to ban, or override them. Leadership has to devolve to a state or local level. LePage has tried to stop any environmental regulations. We have had an abdication of leadership. They say nice words, about oh, how we’re trying to make regulation more predictable. No, they’re not. They are just trying to roll back all the successes we have had in our environment. And I say that as a guy who did grow up in front of a multi-colored, stinking river (from tanneries north of Waterville) which is where poor people live. I am proud to be in a state that produced Ed Muskie and George Mitchell, who did astonishing national work on clean air and clean water. We get it here. We were the first state that did a bottle bill. This is deeply ingrained in who we are. It is offensive to me, these attempts to roll back and gut our environmental agencies.

“That isn’t to say that the agencies are perfect or that implementation is perfect. But let’s not misunderstand what is going on here. This is the agenda of big businesses that would just as soon flatten everybody who gets in their way. If you don’t have leadership at the state level, it must devolve to the local. Which is where I think a lot of action is happening, on pesticides and climate change.”

What about alternative energies? This is a big issue for you. You have solar on your own home, right?

“Yes, and our biggest electric bill is $12 a month. That is to connect us to the grid. Six or seven months a year we generate excess and for five months a year, we live off that excess.

“I want us (Maine) to commit to a 30-year plan for energy independence. Beyond alternatives, beyond conservation, I want energy independence. We have a chance to do it in Maine, and it would be the most transformative action we can ever take. What it amounts to is replacing the $5 billion a year we spend on oil and gas with solar and offshore wind, but primarily solar.

“Solar is the disruptive technology of our time. It is equivalent to the battery-size reduction that moved us from land lines to cell phones. The same thing is happening now, on the solar storage size primarily, but also in the collection side. It is not hard to foresee that in 10 years we will be building new homes with solar shingles and a big bank of batteries where the furnace used to be. It is just going to happen. It is being driven by the major auto manufacturers. Every major car manufacturer is retooling for automatic cars. Why are they doing that? Because the battery technology is advancing so fast. You can buy Tesla car batteries at Home Depot. But you cannot see that if you are focused on how to return us to the past. Are we going to be ahead of that wave or are we going to be behind? I am all in on this.”

Mary Pols can be contacted at 791-6456 or at:

[email protected]

Twitter: MaryPols

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