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