Saving Earth

In case you missed it, the Trump administration announced a proposal that opens up large areas along the coastline of the East Coast, which includes Maine, to oil and gas drilling.

I don’t know how many Mainers know that we have 3,478 miles of coastline—that’s more than California (3,427), and over 5,000 miles of coast if you include all of the islands as well. Only Florida and Louisiana (mostly bayou) have more miles of coastline.

The Earth looks better without drilling rigs. [Old Orchard Beach, ME]

I thought that there was going to be an opportunity to offer public comments at the Augusta Civic Center today. I was planning to attend.

This morning, I found out that members of the public wouldnt’t be allowed to speak at this “listening session hosted by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM). Instead, advocates, like Friends of Casco Bay are urging activists and other concerned parties to submit comments via the BOEM website set-up for that purpose.

There will be future opportunities to speak and “lend our collective voices,” as well as other actions. In the meantime, I’d urge you to submit your own comments.

For now, here are my comments I submitted this morning, while also attaching my OpEd that was published in Friday’s Portland Press Herald:

[Comments submitted to the BOEM website for public comment on the Notice of Availability (NOA) of the 2019-2024 Draft Proposed Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) Oil and Gas Leasing Program and Notics of Intent (NOI) to Prepare a Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (EIS)]

Good morning,

I am the father of a 33-year-old son, Mark Baumer. Mark was a poet and activist who was making a barefoot walk across America in 2016-2017 to raise awareness about climate change, as well as the effects of the proliferation of oil and gas pipelines, as well as the consumption of fossil fuels continues to raise the levels of CO2, which is one of the major causes of human-induced climate change.

Mark was hit and killed by a driver who, given what I’ve been able to gather, proably shouldn’t have been behind the wheel of a SUV—at the very least, she did not maintain her lane and hit and killed our son on January 21, 2017, a year ago. This was devastating for my wife and me, as Mark was our only son.

In order to create some sliver of meaning from his death, we’ve launched the Mark Baumer Sustainability Fund. It is a 501c3 foundation intent on making sure that Mark’s wish for a world that no longer relied on non-renewable energy to fuel it becomes possible.

Unfortunately, the decision by President Trump and his administration to lift the ban on offshore oil and gas drilling is the wrong policy, it’s short-sighted, and also, not something that bodes well for the future of Earth. It’s also something that is the opposite of what Mark wanted for the planet.

Mark posted 100 videos, one for each day he walked. He was killed on Day 101. He was pretty clear about the motives of our current president in terms of the environment and protecting Earth. President Trump does not care!

Our own state, the state of Maine, has 3,478 miles of coastline – more than California (3,427), and over 5,000 miles of coast if you include all of the islands as well. Only Florida and Louisiana (mostly bayou) have more miles of coastline. Unfortunately, Governor LePage, like President Trump, still thinks it’s 1950 and that oil and gas is the energy plan for the future. Mark mentioned leaders like these, who seek “profit as the world burns.”

Mark didn’t have a “woe is me” mindset. On his final walk, he had to push through pain, dealing with cold (in Ohio), and a host of other challenges. Yet, he got up every morning for 101 days and showed us a way forward. If not for the actions of a driver in Florida, I have no doubt Mark would have finished this epic walk. He left behind videos, blog posts, and poems from his trip. Better, I think he provides a way for us to #resist the actions of climate-deniers like Mr. Trump.

I implore you not to despoil the beautiful coastline that borders much of our nation, including the coastline here in Maine.

I have attached the OpEd I wrote and had published in the Portland Press Herald on Friday, January 19, 2018. My position and that of the Mark Baumer Sustainability fund is very clear on the matter of offshore drilling for gas and oil.


Jim Baumer
Father, writer, and president of the Mark Baumer Sustainability Fund