Bob Gustafson of Working Waterfront reports this week that fisheries officials in Canada are pulling together a coalition to promote a permanent ban on oil drilling in the Georges Bank that lies offshore in the Gulf of Maine, south of Nova Scotia and southeast of the state of Maine. Georges Bank has historically been one of the best places in the world for people to find fish because of its shallows and circulating currents. After centuries of overfishing Canada and the United States are working out agreements to help the fishing stock grow back while sustaining a fishing trade that enrichens many coastal towns. In order for the biologically and economically valuable Georges Bank fisheries to be preserved, all governments will have to work together; most of the Georges Bank is controlled by the United States.
Into this tenuous situation has barged Republican candidate for Governor of Maine Paul LePage. LePage’s attitude toward environmental protections is that they “serve no purpose except to cost businesses money.” Instead, he favors offshore oil drilling in areas that sustain Maine’s fishing industry. A Gulf of Maine oil spill like we saw in the Gulf of Mexico this year and see elsewhere around the world every year would devastate the wildlife of the Georges Bank and devastate the economies of Massachusetts, Maine and Nova Scotia. A Gulf of Maine oil spill would undo long, hard work to preserve Georges Bank for its own sake and for the economic vitality of future generations of humanity.
At a Republican gubernatorial debate in May 2010, after the BP oil spill disaster had exploded in the national consciousness, Paul LePage was asked the question “Would you support offshore drilling in the waters off the Maine Coast?” Paul LePage answered with just one word before moving on to the next question: “Yes.”
Just in case you thought Paul LePage was having an off night and misheard “offshore drilling” as “double billing,” Paul LePage can also be found ridiculing Maine’s Public Utilities Commission in April of 2010 because “They fought drilling off the coast of Maine.” Just last month, Paul LePage was the only candidate in a Maine gubernatorial debate to declare his support for offshore oil drilling.
If Paul LePage wins his race for Governor of Maine this November, he is ready to sacrifice the Georges Bank, possibly for good. Less than a month before Election Day, he’s ahead one point in the polls.