Recently, a man in Bath who currently
works at Bath Iron Works (BIW) told me, “We can’t afford to keep building these expensive Zumwalt
destroyers.” The ships are now coming in at more than $4 billion per copy. He
later told me that he no longer knows whom to believe as he watches Trump and
the Democrats battle with one another. I told him he isn’t alone and is smart to
mistrust all that is going on in Washington these days. The corporate
oligarchies internal power struggle is not considering the well being of the
public. We the people have got to come together and fight for our children and
grandchildren who are being left with an economic and environmental mess to
In early March I had to leave our Bath "Zumwalt 12" trial a day early to
attend a conference in Sweden. After that event I did a speaking tour throughout
Scandinavia and ended it in Copenhagen, Denmark. I was quite impressed to see
the many offshore wind turbines in the waters between Sweden and Denmark as I
rode a high-speed rail system over a bridge connecting the two nations.
My mind flashed to our own Gov. LePage who, soon after taking office, moved quickly to kill any chance
of a Norwegian energy company building an offshore
wind farm in the Gulf of Maine. (Experts say that the Gulf of Maine has the
greatest wind power potential in the US.)
Very recently I read an
that reported on Gov. LePage’s failure to create more energy for our
state and to lower our energy costs.
The governor’s plan to expand natural gas capacity in Maine has stalled, a
good thing considering the fact that we must move away from fossil fuels if we
hope to successfully deal with global warming.
LePage’s wrong-headed stands against rooftop solar and against greater
statewide emphasis on energy efficiency is a direct threat to our future
generation’s chances for survival.
From what I can see, the governor has also done little or nothing to promote
public transportation across Maine. A commuter rail system from Portland to Bath
would go a long way in reducing our state’s carbon footprint.
Studies from UMASS-Amherst Economics Department
have long revealed that
building a commuter rail system at BIW would double the existing work force. The
cost of one Zumwalt-class destroyer could surely build a world-class commuter
rail system for Maine. And shouldn’t creating clean energy jobs be a priority in
our state? I don’t hear any of our elected officials pushing for that. If Sens.
Collins and King really wanted to create jobs and deal with global warming this
would be the way to go.
On April 1 there will be a christening at BIW as another destroyer (outfitted
with missile defense interceptors) is commissioned. Peace groups from across
Maine will once again hold a non-violent protest at the shipyard gates demanding
that we end our wasteful addiction to militarism. We will call for the
conversion of BIW to building commuter rail, wind turbines, solar and tidal
My son recently got married and he and his wife are likely to have children
in the near future. I am focused like a laser beam on wanting to ensure that my
descendants, and all future generations, have a real chance of survival on our
Building more warships, which dramatically contribute to the Pentagon’s
number one global carbon boot-print, won’t cut the mustard.
We should all care about preserving life on this fragile planet. Thus we must
continually demand an immediate switch from endless war making to sustainable
production that helps us deal with our real enemy today – climate change.
Bruce K. Gagnon is a member of PeaceWorks and lives in