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Editorial: Jim Labrecque Wants to Join the Maine Legislative Wrecking Crew
Editorial: Jim Labrecque Wants to Join the Maine Legislative Wrecking Crew

James Labrecque is running for the Maine Senate in District 9, Bangor and Hermon. He will take on incumbent Democrat and retired medical doctor Senator Geoff Gratwick, who has a perfect 100% pro-environment lifetime voting score on bills rated by Maine Conservation Voters. Gratwick’’s spouse is Lucy Quimby, founder and president of the Bangor Land Trust. Labrecque would probably have a different score than Gatwick on environmental and conservation issues.

Labrecque, a refrigeration technician, is single handedly responsible for killing legislation to promote solar and wind power in Maine. As Gov. Paul LePage’s self-proclaimed trusted Technical Advisor on Energy issues, Labrecque has persuaded LePage to repeatedly veto legislation to encourage expansion of solar power. Maine is the only state in the northeast without state incentives to support the expansion of solar energy. Lepage has also blocked new offshore and onshore wind power projects.

Instead of more solar and wind power, Labrecque’s solution is to import electricity from Hydro Quebec to run heat pumps. Labrecque is a good heat pump salesman, but a clueless policy expert. Thousands of Mainers have installed heat pumps in their homes in recent years, but that is due to heavy public subsidies, $500 rebates from Efficiency Maine Trust. Labrecque pretends those rebates are “loans.” He may know basic thermodynamics, but he clearly he does not understand basic economics and public policy.

That has not stopped Labrecque from seeking forums for his ideas. In 2002, he ran unsuccessfully for the Maine House of Representatives. Failing that, he took to the airwaves. He has a biweekly show on WVOM-FM, a rightwing radio station in Bangor, which he uses as a vehicle to disseminate his (and LePage’s) energy views. That is where the two met.

According to an Associated Press article, last month Labrecque claimed that a wind turbine at the University of Maine at Presque Isle “uses outside power to turn the turbine blades when there’s no wind.” University spokeswoman Rachel Rice said there are electric motors to swivel the unit, operate a cooling fan and run hydraulics, but that has nothing to do with the blades turning.

In 2017, LePage toyed with nominating Labrecque to the Maine Public Utilities Commission. However, Labrecque said he was not interested, he was too busy. Besides, he said he is “too aggressive, too much like the governor,” to function in a bureaucracy.”

Labrecque is no longer too busy to join the wrecking crew inside the Maine Legislature. He was a late addition to the list of Republican candidates after others withdrew but now he looks forward to throwing wrenches into the gears of government. Like LePage, Labrecque supposedly decries government, yet he has applied for Maine Clean Elections funds.

Gov. Paul LePage will be out of office in 2019. If elected, watch for Jim Labrecque to carry forward the LePage legacy of using the power of state government against the interests of its own citizens. And he may not be too polite about it. The name Labrecque drives from middle French meaning unceremonious, curt, blunt, abrupt.

Note: This editorial is not an endorsement of any candidate.

Posted on Thursday, August 9, 2018 (Archive on Thursday, August 30, 2018)
Posted by Jym St. Pierre   Contributed by Jym St. Pierre

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