The headline of your story on dredging near Searsport states that the debate is jobs versus the environment. But the story actually frames the debate as industry versus industry.

There is the wood products industry that hopes for larger ships to enter the port so wood products shipped by train to the port and then to other destinations can revitalize places like Millinocket. Then there are the lobstermen who fear that the dredging will have a negative impact on their industry. I imagine most people would love to see more economic activity, so long as it doesn’t jeopardize what they have.

If this were a debate between jobs and the environment, the arguments would run differently. The environmentalists would be talking about the impact on a crucial ecosystem that would undoubtedly be harmed by this dredging. Dredging cannot not impact ecosystems. It is only a debate now because of the question, “Will the dredging negatively impact the lobster ecosystem and thereby economically hurt the lobstermen?”

Unfortunately, Americans have become so cynical that it’s hard to find a trustworthy source to inform us if the overall economic impact will be beneficial. I pray that those who give out dredging permits will do something unorthodox – come to a reasonable and timely decision so we can have our cake and eat it too.

Chuck Barnard