Entering the ring

Going green
By DEIRDRE FULTON  |  July 6, 2011

Environmental advocate Jon Hinck, a lawyer and a state representative, is "seriously considering" a run against Republican US Senator Olympia Snowe in 2012, he told the Phoenix this week.

Hinck, a progressive Democrat from Portland, describes Snowe, who has served in the US Senate since 1995, as "a good senator, as senators go."

"But I happen to believe that we're on a really bad track," he says. "And a decent senator who's been in Washington for more than 30 years is not going to make the types of decisions we need." Snowe served in the US House from 1979 until she became a senator in 1995.

Hinck is particularly concerned with economic justice — the nation's income and wealth disparity — and energy policy. Without a comprehensive energy policy, he predicts a "pending environmental and national security crisis." While Snowe has been outspoken in her support for a national energy policy (she released a press release in May saying it was a "travesty" that the issue was being pushed aside to make room for the economic debate), Hinck does not think she's been sufficiently proactive. "I think the senator from Maine should be driving the energy policy debate," he says.

Hinck, who blasted Governor Paul LePage's environmental and energy strategies in these pages just a few months ago (see "Progressive Nightmare," by Deirdre Fulton, March 18), has whittled down his energy prescription to four simple tenets:

Get efficient.

When it comes to energy generation, "take nothing off the table."

Internalize all the costs — which dovetails with:

Eliminate subsidies and let the market dictate what works.

Hinck isn't the only Democrat contemplating a run against the popular incumbent. Former Maine secretary of state Matt Dunlap has also expressed interest; the possibility of a primary between Dunlap and Hinck could mean an increased focus on the environment, conservation, and energy issues. For the past several months, Dunlap has served as interim executive director for the Sportsman's Alliance of Maine, the non-profit organization that advocates on behalf of hunters, fishermen, and other wildlife-enjoyers in the state. The Alliance, like Hinck (whose wife is a lawyer for the wind industry), has been involved in the debate over wind-power development in Maine.

Should they officially decide to run, both Dunlap and Hinck would face a large obstacle. Not only is Snowe's seat relatively secure (though Hinck points out that "improbable wins have happened before"), but her bank account is bulging. The Portland Press Herald reports she has more than $2 million on hand.

• Speaking of tough mountains to climb . . . Now's the time to get outside and explore Maine's woods and trails — like I did this weekend, on the BIGELOW MOUNTAIN AND PRESERVE near Sugarloaf. (Note to self: If you're camping at the top, pack light. No, even lighter than that. Note Number Two: Remember that fires aren't allowed up there. Bring a camping stove or be prepared to eat cold meals.)

To aid in your summer adventuring, check out MaineTrailFinder.com, a one-year-old project that's the result of a collaboration between the Farmington-based Center for Community GIS, a mapping center, and the Canadian Quebec-Labrador Foundation, a non-profit that works in the Atlantic region to support conservation and stewardship initiatives. The site offers a free and interactive way to plan everything from easy day hikes to more strenuous overnighters. With the help of GPS and user-added content, they're adding trails and information all the time.

• And if aquatic trekking is more your thing, keep in mind that Outside magazine just voted the MAINE ISLAND TRAIL, a 375-mile waterway that stretches from New Hampshire to Machias, the nation's best sea-kayaking trail.

Deirdre Fulton can be reached at  dfulton@phx.com.

  Topics: The Editorial Page , Olympia Snowe, Portland Press Herald, environment,  More more >
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