The invitation comes after the governor sent letters to the council’s donors suggesting they were supporting a group that is harming Maine’s economy.
By Kevin Miller, Staff Writer
Portland Press Herald news story
Gov. Paul LePage said he invited the head of the Natural Resources Council of Maine to meet with him to discuss ways to both protect the environment and grow the state’s economy.
LePage’s invitation came one week after Lisa Pohlmann, executive director of the NRCM, blasted the governor for sending letters to roughly 200 of the organization’s donors claiming that “your financial support of NRCM is costing rural Mainers good jobs and keeping them mired in poverty.”
“As I have stated repeatedly, I am not against the environment,” LePage said in his weekly radio address, the text of which was released Wednesday. “Maine’s scenic beauty, including our pristine lakes, rivers, forest and ocean, is the best in the nation. However, we cannot keep saying ‘no’ to any economic activity that would allow rural Mainers to prosper. We cannot let them wallow in poverty with no way out.
So I have written another letter to Ms. Pohlmann. I invited her to meet with me to discuss how we can work together to conserve our environment while allowing the economic development that will create good jobs for Mainers.”
But LePage also took another swipe at Pohlmann, who leads an organization that he has called one of the “biggest enemies of the state of Maine.” LePage said Pohlmann “decided to grandstand” in front of the media rather than come to him directly about the letter.
During a press conference last week, Pohlmann and several NRCM donors accused LePage – a vocal critic of Maine’s environmental organizations – of attempting to harass or intimidate the group’s supporters as well as misusing public money.
“It appears the governor has taken the unprecedented step of directing public employees to hunt down the names and addresses of NRCM members so that he can send harassment letters to their homes,” Pohlmann said. “This has got to stop. The governor should not be using Maine taxpayer money for his vendetta against NRCM.”
It was not clear Wednesday morning when, or if, Pohlmann received a letter from LePage or how she will respond. But NRCM staff pointed out that in 2011 the group organized a “Roundtable on Maine People and the Environment” with the governor that featured 29 speakers presenting their views on links between Maine’s environment and its economy.