After threatening EPA, LePage denies making said threat

Maine Gov. Paul LePage held a Town Hall style meeting at the University of Maine at Farmington on Tuesday.

The meeting was attended by several dozens of people and saw a man escorted out before the governor even took the stage for calling for his impeachment.

LePage spoke for a little over an hour, touching on issues such as lowering the state income tax, energy costs in Maine, welfare reform, and student loans.

The entire meeting can be viewed in this video from the YouTube page of Andi Parkinson:

Near the end of the meeting a question and answer portion was held, which led to LePage chiding Maine newspapers. Around the 1:20 mark, the governor interrupted a man asking a question that’s inaudible from the footage. 

“Whoever said that to you, or if you read that in a newspaper, it’s a lie,” LePage answered clearly.

Just moments later a UMF student from Scarborough began his question by prefacing, “I also read this in a newspaper, so you’ll love that.”

He then asked LePage directly, “Why do you want to yield the state’s Clean Water Act to the federal government?”

LePage responded, “I don’t know where you got that, that’s not true.”

Photo- Jonathan Ernst, Reuters.

Photo- Jonathan Ernst, Reuters.

In fact, it is true that on Aug. 31 LePage penned a letter to Maine’s congressional delegation threatening to give up powers granted to the state under the federal Clean Water Act and allow the EPA to take over. On the same day LePage sent the letter, Patricia Aho, the outgoing environmental protection commissioner, repeated the governor’s threats in a letter of her own sent to the EPA.

“I am… seriously considering relinquishing some or all of Maine’s delegated authority under this act,” wrote LePage in the letter.

If the threat is carried out, Maine would be the only state to relinquish such powers back to the federal government, which includes the authority to issue federal permits to factories and waste water plants, and the ability to monitor and enforce the provisions included in the Clean Water Act.

The student responded to LePage, saying that he got the information from the Portland Press Herald.

The story was covered by both the Press Herald and the Bangor Daily News earlier this month.

LePage diverted from the question, “This is what’s going on, the Penobscot Indians want to reopen the Indian Lands Claim to get more money,” he said in reference to a dispute between the state and the Penobscot tribe. “It’s that simple, it’s all about the money, follow the money.”

“I’m telling you,” LePage continued with a smirk, “if you wanna read the two daily newspapers in the state of Maine, you get what you get. They’re so bad that I don’t even trust the obituaries.”

More likely than not, LePage was referring to the Press Herald and the BDN, the two largest daily newspapers in the state.

What remains unclear is why the governor, who made the threat to grant Maine’s Clean Water Act authority to the federal government just a few weeks ago in writing, would now tell a room full of people that he didn’t make said threat.

Chris Shorr

About Chris Shorr

Chris is a sixth generation Portlander who loves all things Maine. He has worked with mentally ill and marginalized adults at a Portland non-profit, on a lobster boat in Casco Bay, at several high-end Portland restaurants, and at a local meat packing plant. He also ran for Portland City Council in 2013, wrote a weekly column in the now defunct Portland Daily Sun, and currently writes a weekly column in The Portland Phoenix.