A campaign promise better left unfulfilled

It's not news that candidates make foolish promises in the heat of a primary campaign, throwing out ideas to fire up their followers.

Politifacts.com lists several dozen promises Barack Obama made on his march to the White House.

Remember the one about closing the Guantanamo Bay Detention Center? Hasn't happened, even three years after his election.

Double the size of the Peace Corps. Increase the capital gains tax. End the income tax for seniors making less than $50,000 per year. All remain on the to-do list.

So it is also no surprise that Republican candidates for president are making a few irrational promises we should hope they don't keep.

Several have promised, for instance, to abolish the Environmental Protection Agency if elected.

This is an idea that can only be taken seriously by people with short memories or a callous disregard for the environmental progress that has been made in this country over the past 40 years.

In 1970, people would have scoffed at the idea of one day swimming in the mighty Androscoggin. Walkers hurried across the bridges connecting the Twin Cities in those days, trying to avoid the stench of the river.

They didn't linger there for events like the Great Falls Balloon Festival or take their lunch breaks strolling the river's shore.

This summer, the mayors of both cities pulled on waders and went fishing just across the river from the Bates Mill.

Up the river, the boat ramp in Turner is sometimes so packed with trailers it is hard to find one more parking place.

The river sparkles in the summer sun, and eagles can frequently be seen wheeling in the sky and diving into the river for lunch.

The bald eagle, our national symbol, was on the verge of extinction in 1970 when Richard Nixon, a Republican, proposed creating the EPA.

That was one year after the Cuyahoga River, then an industrial drain pipe between Akron and Cleveland, caught fire.

In the 1800s, there were between 300,000 and 500,000 bald eagles in the continental U.S. By the 1950s, there were 48 nesting pairs left.

That's when scientists first suspected that the widely used pesticide DDT was affecting the shell thickness of the eggs laid by fish-eating birds.

The fledgling EPA held seven months of hearings on the threat DDT posed to wildlife and humans before severely limiting its use.

The eagle population slowly rebounded. By 1992, there were more than 100,000 eagles in the lower 48 states and, by 2006, more than 400 nesting pairs in Maine.

In 2007, the bald eagle was removed from the endangered species list, just one of countless environmental success stories that have occurred since the EPA was created.

Today, the agency is trying to force Midwestern and Southern coal-fired power plants to curtail the emissions that drift over Maine and pollute our waterways.

That dirty air makes power cheap in those regions, giving them an economic advantage, but it leaves Mainers with respiratory conditions gasping for breath.

And that accounts for the hostility toward the agency in this campaign season.

If our next president is a Republican, which seems increasingly likely, the rest of us should hope abolishing the EPA is one campaign promise that goes unfulfilled.

rrhoades@sunjournal.com

The opinions expressed in this column reflect the views of the ownership and editorial board.

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Comments

Amedeo Lauria's picture

Need for Balance and Fairness

The push back on governmental organizations, to include the EPA, has more to do with the endless production of restrictive punitive policies without a single iota of Congressional, Judicial or Executive overight. Many governmental organizations, to include the EPA have become bloated and have forgotten their original charters. Many are in dire need of a bottoms-up review and can use some trimming and refocusing. Over the years, we have regulated ourselves out of the global marketplace. Our government is layer after layer of knee jerk created organizations that have not fullfilled their original charters and should see the sun go down on their operations. The same folks who talk with distain of the vilification of governmental organizations; talk about America's producers and employers as if they were common criminals. Remember, the US Constitution LIMITS the power of the federal government; these limitations are constantly being eroded, chipped away in small pieces, and no good will come of it.

Joe Morin's picture

Mixed Feelings

For starters, I'm curious who stated they were going to abolish the EPA? The story doesn't specify which Republican said that. Secondly, I think the EPA is very important but like many other Govt. agencies needs to have some changes. The EPA is an agency that can create law through regulations that is virtually autonomous and free from oversight. The problem is that agencies like the EPA justify the workforce and stay relevant through increased regulations. I deal with them on a fairly regular basis. Most of the stuff we deal with is common sense and prudent. There is another side that is 100% completely asinine. The part that makes no sense to me, my company or the agents...The part that requires private of business to stand on its head. The things we do don't bother eagles or toads or flies but still cost thousands of dollars. The EPA carries great power, with that power requires wisdom, there is a balance. In a blue state that is very green like Maine it is easy for an agency like the EPA to run rough shod over private business and be applauded for it.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

Very well stated, Joe,

Very well stated, Joe, although the Pirate would still like to see most of the EPA have serious restraints on its powers. With drastic cuts in EPA involvement, many of America's economic problems would disappear practically overnight.

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