June 06, 2020

Clear-cut bill foes arouse our emotions

I am appalled at, and ashamed of, the widespread use of mindless, emotional propaganda against the proposed forest practices referendum, not only by the powerful forest products industry, but by citizen groups and citizens themselves. While I sympathize with the intentions fo the proposed bill, I disagree with its severity. I don’t believe the state, especially Aroostook County, about which nobody in other parts of the state seems concerned these days, can financially withstand such a cut-back in production.

However, I disagree with tactics currently being used to defeat the proposal. I often see bumper stickers reading “Stop the Forestry Ban,” many on cars owned by people who themselves complain about deceptive tactics used by the Ban Clearcutting political action committee in calling their referendum the “Clearcutting Referendum.” These people claim that only a small portion of the referendum concerns the practice of clear-cutting. While the entire referendum does involve more than the practice of clearcutting, neither is it a forestry ban. It is an “Initiated Bill to Promote Forest Rehabilitation and Eliminate Clearcutting.”

Opponents of the bill are more intent on arousing emotion, especially those people in areas whose economies are based almost solely on the forest products industry, rather than using solid statistics as evidence of the referendum’s potential economic devastation. The Maine State Planning Office, in conjunction with the Maine Forest Service, used computer modeling to conduct an economic impact analysis of the proposal. The forecast is a rather dismal one, should the proposal become law. However, I have neither seen nor heard of this analysis anywhere in my research of the subject. Only after numerous phone calls were made was I able to obtain a copy.

I was disappointed with the political action committee called ACCESS (Aroostook Citizens Concerned for their Economic Security and Survival), which was unable to provide me with a copy of the study, and directed me to my local representative. When I first contacted the organization, I wasn’t informed that a study was done at all, until I directly asked for a copy of it. I was then told that they had one, but they wouldn’t provide me with a copy, and that I should look elsewhere for this information, such as my local representative.

Shouldn’t this organization’s whole being revolve around this impact assessment? Here is a group that claims to be “Concerned for Economic Security,” and it didn’t seem at all interested in an economic impact study conducted by state agencies.

Although I do not fear that the referendum will be passed in November, what scares me is the political means currently being used to defeat it. Is this how our political process functions, by arousing emotion and blinding people in their anger?

In an effort to allow people to see past the ignorant propaganda, I would like to inform the public that a copy of the economic impact analysis of the proposed referendum can be obtained by contacting the Maine Forest Service in Augusta at 287-2791. I have also placed on reserve at the Blake Library of the University of Maine at Fort Kent campus and the Fort Kent Public Library, copies of the analysis, for people from the area to read for themselves. Let’s rise above deceptive politics and allow people to make decisions based on fact, rather than emotion fanned by inflated propaganda.

Wayne Saucier Jr. lives in Fort Kent.

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